In a major step forward, the National Commission for Women (NCW) and a visiting delegation from Pakistan on Monday decided to work towards the establishment of an apex body that would provide a common platform to women of South Asia and take up issues of common concern to the region.
The two sides drew inspiration from the working of the SAARC (South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation), with the heads of South Asian countries meeting frequently to discuss issues impacting the region.
During a two hour meeting, NCW chairperson Girija Vyas and the Pakistani delegation, led by Simi Kamal of the National Commission on the Status of Women, decided to take up the matter of setting up such a platform with their respective governments
Talking to reporters later, Vyas took note of the similarities in problems faced by women in South Asia and said that it would help if there is an apex body of women organizations from the different states in the region so that they could meet regularly to exchange views and discuss issues.
During the meeting, the two sides discussed the working of their respective commissions and the need to deal with common issues like trafficking, marriage laws, maternity mortality rate, education and health.
Kamal emphasized the importance of learning from each other’s experience and reviewing the implementation of laws meant for safeguarding the rights of women Reacting to queries, Kamal described the rise of fundamentalism as the biggest threat to women’s rights in her country. She said women in Pakistan were treated as ``second class citizens’’ and suffered all kinds of violence. A new law against domestic violence was on the anvil to reform the ``Hudood’’ law that puts the onus of proving rape on the woman. As for the current controversy over the veil, she said that while women in Pakistan were free to dress as they wanted, more and more women were taking to the veil in urban areas to assert their religiosity.