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Women Rights in Pakistan

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Women rights in Pakistan are often questioned due to a known fact that Pakistan is a male-dominated society. Pakistan is an Islamic State and its constitution follows the Shariah Law laid down by Islam, hence stating that women in Pakistan have no rights at all is wrong and foolish of you.

The constitution of Pakistan recognizes equality between men and women due to which several women have held high positions like Prime Minister, Speaker of the National Assembly, Leader of the opposition and other important positions. Gender Equality was guaranteed in the Constitution of Pakistan in 1973 and in 1975 an official delegation from Pakistan took part in the First World Conference on Women in Mexico which led to the constitution of the first Pakistan Women’s Rights Committee.

The first women bank was established in 1989 in order to address women’s financial needs. The Social Action Program launched in 1992/93 aimed at reducing gender disparities by improving women’s access to social services. The country’s first all-women university, named after Fatima Jinnah, was inaugurated on 6 August 1998. In 2000, the Church of Pakistan ordained its first women deacons. On 2 September 2004, the Ministry of Women Development was made an independent ministry, separating from the Social Welfare and Education Ministry.

In late 2006, the Pakistani Parliament passed the Women’s Protection Bill, repealing some of the Hudood Ordinances. It also allowed DNA and other scientific evidence to be used for prosecuting in rape cases. In 2006, The Protection of Women (Criminal Laws Amendment) Act was also passed. In December 2006, for the first time, women cadets from the Military Academy Kakul assumed guard duty at the mausoleum of Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

During President Asif Zardari’s regime, Pakistan saw landmark development in women’s rights legislation and was commended on an international level. During the time Pakistan appointed a female member of parliament and party loyalist Dr. Fehmida Mirza as the first female speaker in South Asia. During the tenure, Pakistan saw its first female foreign minister, Hina Rabbani Khar, first secretary of defense, Nargis Sethi, deputy speaker of a province Shehla Raza and numerous female ministers, ambassadors, secretaries including Farahnaz Ispahani, Media Advisor to former President of Pakistan and co-chairman PPP, Sherry Rehman former ambassador of Pakistan to the US, Fauzia Wahab, Firdous Ashiq Awan, Farzana Raja, Shazia Marri, Sharmila Faruqi and others held prestigious positions within the administration.

On 29 January 2010, the President signed the Protection against Harassment of Women at Workplace Bill in which the parliament adopted on 21 January 2010. Two additional bills were also signed into law by the President in December 2012 criminalizing the primitive practices of Vani, watta-satta, swara and marriage to the Quran which used women as tradable commodities for settlement of disputes. In addition the punishment for acid throwing to life imprisonment. In 2012 the government also revived the National Commission on the status of women and Muttahida Qaumi Movement also held the biggest women political rally which had an estimated 100,000 women in attendance.

A Child Marriage Restraint Order was also introduced which makes it illegal for girls under the age of 16 to be married. The government passed a bill in 2004 which made honor killing to be considered equal to the offense of murder.

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