President for improved status of women, providing enabling environment

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Arif Alvi

DNA

Islamabad, JAN 2: President Arif Alvi has underscored the need for taking measures to improve the status of women, provide them employment opportunities and enabling working-environment to increase their economic participation. He highlighted that our religion Islam granted property rights to women and it was our responsibility to give them their due share and create a safer society for them.

The President expressed these views while chairing a meeting during his visit to the Federal Ombudsman Secretariat for Protection Against Harassment at Workplace (FOSPAH) Head Office, in Islamabad, today. Federal Ombudsperson for Protection Against Harassment at Workplace, Ms Fauzia Viqar, Secretary FOSPAH, Mr Arif Karim, advisors and officials of FOSPAH attended the meeting.

Ms Fauzia Viqar gave a detailed presentation about the role and achievements of FOSPAH in protecting women’s rights. She informed that FOSPAH was providing speedy justice in harassment at the workplace and property cases of women who had been deprived of their ownership rights. She informed that 725 harassment cases were registered with FOSPAH, during 2023, out of which 517 cases had been decided. She said that an upsurge had been witnessed in the registration of harassment and women’s property cases with FOSPAH due to the awareness campaign about its role and functions. She apprised the meeting that harassment of women and denial of property rights to women were pervasive issues in Pakistan. Appreciating the continued support of the President Dr Arif Alvi, she told the meeting that so far 208 representations against the decisions of FOSPAH had been filed with the President, out of which only 10 were under process with the office of the President while the rest had been decided.

Addressing the meeting, the President called for taking appropriate legislative measures at the federal and provincial levels to ensure the protection of women’s property rights, besides discouraging the transfer of property by women to their family members due to pressures. He said that he was conducting personal hearings of the Ombudspersons’ cases to expedite the process of justice. He stated that highlighting important decisions of FOSPAH in harassment and women’s property cases through media would help increase awareness about the role of the Ombudsman. He said that police at the local level needed to improve their response to women’s complaints in property cases, adding that police officials should be educated about the provisions of the Enforcement of Women’s Property Rights Act, 2020.

The President urged FOSPAH to further increase its outreach and efficiency to provide speedy justice to women in harassment and property cases at their doorsteps. He also advised FOSPAH to enhance its linkages with NGOs and women’s rights organizations in Pakistan to seek suggestions for improving women’s status. The President said that providing a harassment-free and enabling environment to women in both the public and private sectors was essential for their economic and social empowerment. He underlined the need for increased engagements with the business community, particularly the chambers of commerce and industries, to provide employment to women as well as sensitize them about the importance and provisions of the Protection against Harassment at Workplace Act, 2010.

The President appreciated FOSPAH for its role in providing speedy justice to women, adding that women-led institutions like FOSPAH were critical in addressing the challenges being faced by women at workplaces as well as in acquiring their due property rights.