CEDAW’s concluding observations to Pakistan’s Fifth Periodic Report

CEDAW’s concluding observations to Pakistan’s Fifth Periodic Report

Pakistan is signatory to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women. Recently Pakistan under went its fifth periodic report review. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) considered the fifth periodic report of Pakistan at its 1751st and 1752nd meetings, held on 12 February 2020. Following is the outcome Concluding Observations of the review:

Positive work recognized

The Committee welcomed the progress made by Pakistan in the legislative domain, in particular the adoption of the following:

        (a)    Criminal Law (Amendment) (Offences in the Name or on Pretext of Honour) Act and the Criminal Law (Amendment) (Offences relating to Rape) Act, both in 2016;

        (b)    Juvenile Justice System Act, which establishes a programme of diversion for juvenile offenders, in 2018;

        (c)    Act No. XIII of 2018, the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, which recognizes the right of persons to choose their gender identity and prohibits discrimination against and harassment of transgender and intersex persons;

        (d)    Elections Act of 2017, which seeks to ensure equal access for women to voting registration;

        (e)    Acid and Burn Crime Act of 2018, which criminalizes the misuse of corrosive substances and provides for treatment, rehabilitation, legal support and protection for victims of acid and burn attacks.

Recommendations given to Pakistan

Sustainable Development Goals

CEDAW urged Pakistan to recognize women as the driving force of the sustainable development of Pakistan and to adopt relevant policies and strategies to that effect.

Parliament

CEDAW recommended that the National Assembly and the provincial assemblies, in line with their mandates, to take the necessary steps regarding the implementation of the present concluding observations between now and the submission of the next periodic report under the Convention.

Withdrawal of declaration made upon accession to the Convention

The Committee urged the State party to strengthen its efforts towards the expeditious withdrawal of its declaration made upon accession to the Convention

Devolution of powers

CEDAW recommended that the State party set standards and establish an effective coordination mechanism aimed at ensuring the transparent, coherent and consistent implementation of the Convention throughout its territory.

Women and peace and security

The Committee recommended that the State party adopt a national action plan for the implementation of Security Council resolution 1325 (2000), in cooperation with representatives of women’s civil society organizations from the different provinces, and ensure that the plan:

        (a)    Takes into consideration the full spectrum of the Security Council agenda on women and peace and security, as reflected in Council resolutions 1325 (2000), 1820 (2008), 1888 (2009), 1889 (2009), 1960 (2010), 2106 (2013), 2122 (2013), 2242 (2015), 2467 (2019) and 2493 (2019);

        (b)    Incorporates a model of substantive equality that, in line with the Convention, will have an impact on all aspects of women’s lives and will address gender-based violence against women and intersecting forms of discrimination against women, in particular women with disabilities and Ahmadi, Christian, Dalit, Hindu, Roma, Sheedi and Sikh women and girls;

        (c)    Ensures the participation of women, including those belonging to ethnic and religious minorities, in peace, transitional justice and reconciliation processes, in particular with regard to the elaboration and implementation of the national action plan;

        (d)    Integrates gender-responsive budgeting, sets out indicators for the regular monitoring of its implementation and provides for accountability mechanisms.

Definition of discrimination against women

CEDAW recommended that the State party:

        (a)    Amend article 25 of the Constitution and adopt, without delay, a comprehensive definition of discrimination against women in its Constitution, covering all internationally recognized prohibited grounds of discrimination and encompassing direct and indirect discrimination in both the public and private spheres, including intersecting forms of discrimination against women;

        (b)    Ensure that legislation prohibiting discrimination against women provides for appropriate enforcement mechanisms and sanctions.

Visibility of the Convention

The Committee recommended that the State party:

        (a)    Raise awareness of the Convention, in collaboration with the media and civil society, with particular emphasis on the concept of substantive equality;

        (b)    Strengthen legal training and capacity-building programmes for judges, prosecutors, lawyers and other law enforcement officials and ensure that the Convention, the Optional Protocol, the Committee’s general recommendations and views on individual communications and its findings from inquiries are made an integral part of systematic professional training, so as to enable those receiving the training to apply the provisions of the Convention directly and/or interpret national legislation in line with the Convention.

Access to justice

CEDAW recommended that the State party:

        (a)    Ensure that parallel justice systems and informal dispute resolution mechanisms are consistent with the Convention and do not discriminate against women;

        (b)    Raise awareness among the general public to give preference to judicial remedies over informal dispute resolution mechanisms when denouncing violations of women’s rights;

        (c)    Eliminate barriers in the physical and built environment, communication barriers and economic barriers to access to justice for women and girls by ensuring the availability of modern and accessible information and communications technologies and by using the media, including social media, to raise awareness among women and girls of their rights and the remedies available to them, in cooperation with civil society and women’s associations;

        (d)    Strengthen the judicial system, including through the allocation of sufficient human, technical and financial resources and through regular capacity-building on women’s rights and gender equality for judges, prosecutors, lawyers, police officers and other law enforcement officials.

National machinery for the advancement of women

CEDAW recommended that the State party:

        (a)    Raise awareness about the existence and functions of the Human Rights Information Management System, particularly among civil society organizations, and ensure its accessibility;

        (b)    Ensure that the devolution of powers does not adversely affect women’s advancement in all spheres of life and that federal institutions, such as the National Commission on the Status of Women, are fully equipped to effectively coordinate and oversee the formulation and implementation of gender equality policies and programmes and the prioritization of women’s rights in development strategies throughout the territory of the State party;

        (c)    Amend the Code of Civil Procedure (Act V of 1908), with a view to ensuring that recommendations made by the National Commission on the Status of Women are taken into consideration in the formulation of relevant legislation, policies and programmes;

        (d)    Institutionalize an inter-provincial coordination mechanism and allocate adequate human, technical and financial resources to the provincial commissions and the women’s development departments;

        (e)    Ensure that the National Commission on the Status of Women has adequate human, technical and financial resources to fulfil its mandate.

National human rights institution

CEDAW recommended that the State party:

        (a)    Ensure that the National Commission for Human Rights is in full conformity with the Paris Principles;

        (b)    Strengthen the mandate of the Commission and enable it to investigate complaints about violations of women’s rights;

        (c)    Provide the Commission with adequate human and financial resources to carry out its mandate throughout the territory of the State party;

        (d)    Encourage the Commission to apply for accreditation by the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions.

Women human rights defenders

CEDAW recommended that the State party ensure that women human rights defenders and political activists are able to exercise their political rights and receive adequate protection from intimidation, reprisals and violence, and that perpetrators of such acts are prosecuted and adequately punished. It also recommends that the State party review the procedure for non-governmental organizations to obtain foreign funding and ensure that they can freely carry out their advocacy work.

Temporary special measures

CEDAW recommended that the State party:

        (a)    Adopt temporary special measures with time-bound targets, including quotas, accompanied by sanctions for non-compliance, to accelerate the achievement of substantive equality of women and men in all areas in which women, including rural women, migrant and asylum-seeking women and women with disabilities, are underrepresented or disadvantaged, such as in political and public life, in education and employment, including in managerial positions, and in the public service;

        (b)    Conduct capacity-building programmes, targeting decision makers and employers, on the non-discriminatory nature of temporary special measures for achieving substantive equality between women and men.

Stereotypes and harmful practices

CEDAW recommended that the State party adopt a comprehensive strategy to eliminate discriminatory stereotypes and harmful practices, such as child and forced marriage and crimes committed in the name of so-called “honour” (“karo-kari”), which includes awareness-raising and education targeting the general public, parents, religious and community leaders and the media, in collaboration with civil society and women’s organizations, on the criminal nature and harmful effects of such practices.

Gender-based violence against women

CEDAW recommended that the State party:

        (a)    Adopt legislation to criminalize all forms of gender-based violence against women, including domestic violence and marital rape, without exemptions;

        (b)    Adopt a national plan of action to combat all forms of gender-based violence against women, with a particular focus on domestic violence;

        (c)    Introduce systematic capacity-building for judges, prosecutors, police officers and other law enforcement officials on the strict application of criminal law provisions for gender-based violence against women and on gender-sensitive investigation procedures, and introduce mandatory training for medical personnel;

        (d)    Ensure the availability of inclusive and accessible shelters for women who are victims of violence throughout its territory and strengthen medical and psychological support services as well as legal counselling and rehabilitation services, for victims, by providing adequate funding, training staff and regularly monitoring those services;

        (e)    Systematically collect and analyse data on all forms of gender-based violence against women, disaggregated by age, region, disability and relationship between the victim and perpetrator, as well as data on the number of protection orders issued, on prosecutions and on the sentences imposed on perpetrators, and include such data in the next periodic report.

Trafficking and exploitation of prostitution

CEDAW recommended that the State party:

        (a)    Ensure the effective enforcement of the Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Act and of the Prevention of Smuggling of Migrants Act, including through systematic training for judges, prosecutors, border police, immigration authorities and other law enforcement officials, and strengthen labour inspections, in particular in sectors employing seasonal workers and in private households;

        (b)    Ensure that victims have access to inclusive and accessible shelters and support services, including psychosocial assistance, and effective redress;

        (c)    Strengthen collaboration with the forced marriage units of countries from/to which girls and women are trafficked for the purpose of forced marriage, and ensure their prompt return;

        (d)    Ensure that cases of trafficking are effectively investigated and prosecuted and that those found guilty are adequately punished;

        (e)    Expedite the establishment of a specialized inter-institutional mechanism coordinating action against trafficking at the national level, and allocate adequate human, technical and financial resources to it;

        (f)    Accelerate the adoption of a national action plan to combat trafficking in persons and provide information on its results in its next periodic report;

        (g)    Increase funding for non-governmental organizations running shelters that provide medical, psychological and social reintegration services to victims of trafficking;

        (h)    Continue to raise awareness about the criminal nature and risks of trafficking in women and girls, provide training to the judiciary, law enforcement officers and border police on the early identification of women and girls who are victims of trafficking, and ensure that victims are referred to appropriate services;

        (i)     Provide training on gender-sensitive treatment of trafficking victims to the judiciary, law enforcement officials, social workers and medical professionals working with victims of trafficking;

        (j)     Ensure the collection of disaggregated statistical data on internal and cross-border trafficking, on the number of criminal proceedings initiated, and on the sentences imposed on perpetrators of trafficking-related crimes, and include such data in the next periodic report.

Equal participation in political and public life

The Committee called upon the State party to:

        (a)    Amend its Electoral Law to increase the minimum quotas for the representation of women in the National Assembly, the provincial assemblies and the Senate to at least 30 per cent, in accordance with international standards;

        (b)    Establish a procedure for women to file complaints about forced disenfranchisement and adopt the draft bill submitted by the Election Commission of Pakistan, requiring re-polling in elections in which women’s votes account for less than 10 per cent of all votes cast;

        (c)    Conduct awareness-raising activities on the importance of the participation of women in decision-making;

        (d)    Take targeted measures, including temporary special measures, such as the preferential recruitment of women in cases of equal qualifications, to increase the number of women judges in the higher courts and ensure the appointment of women to the Supreme Court.

Nationality

The Committee recommended the State party amend section 10 of the Citizenship Act of 1951 with a view to bringing it into full compliance with article 9 of the Convention by enabling Pakistani women to transmit their nationality to a foreign spouse on an equal footing with Pakistani men. Furthermore, the Committee invites the State party to consider ratifying the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness.

Education

The Committee recommended that the State party:

        (a)    Enact legislation and take all necessary measures to increase school enrolment among girls and reduce their dropout rate, especially at the secondary level, by, inter alia, holding parents (or guardians) responsible for school attendance, formulating re-entry policies to enable young women to return to school after pregnancy and adopting programmes for the retention of girls in the education system;

        (b)    Develop and integrate into school curricula: (i) inclusive and accessible content on gender equality, including on women’s rights, and positive portrayals of women in public life, and (ii) age-appropriate education on sexual and reproductive health and rights, including comprehensive sexuality education for adolescent girls and boys, with a particular emphasis on responsible sexual behaviour;

        (c)    Strengthen and monitor measures to encourage girls’ enrolment, attendance and retention in schools and their reintegration if they drop out, particularly at the secondary and tertiary levels and with a focus on girls living in poverty, girls living in rural areas, pregnant girls and adolescent mothers, by eliminating the direct costs and reducing the indirect costs of education.

Employment

The Committee recommended that the State party:

        (a)    Effectively enforce the principle of equal pay for work of equal value, especially in the private sector, in order to narrow and close the gender pay gap;

        (b)    Promote equal sharing of family and care responsibilities between women and men by introducing flexible working arrangements, increasing the number of childcare facilities and introducing innovative measures to increase the social acceptance of men taking care of their children and of women choosing to return to work following childbirth;

        (c)    Promote the transition of women from the informal to the formal economy and extend labour protection and social security coverage, including the planned pension scheme and the universal health insurance system, to women employed in the informal economy, and reduce unemployment among women by promoting their entry into the formal economy through measures that include vocational and technical training;

        (d)    Continue to enhance gender-informed data collection systems for women’s employment statistics, particularly with regard to home-based women workers, women domestic workers, unpaid women care workers, women with disabilities and refugee women;

        (e)    Consider ratifying the Workers with Family Responsibilities Convention, 1981 (No. 156), of the International Labour Organization;

        (f)    Promote the participation of women in managerial and leadership positions, including through measures such as quotas or fast-track selection processes for women.

Health

The Committee recommended that the State party:

        (a)    Improve women’s access to health-care facilities and to medical assistance provided by trained personnel, especially in rural and remote areas, and ensure the adequate allocation of human and financial resources to the health sector in all provinces and the accessibility and safety of all health services for women and girls;

        (b)    Strengthen its efforts to reduce the high rate of maternal mortality and ensure access to affordable modern contraceptive methods throughout the State party;

        (c)    Review its abortion legislation with a view to legalizing abortion in cases of rape, incest, threat to the life or health of the pregnant woman or severe fetal impairment, and with a view to decriminalizing it in all other cases, and prepare guidelines to ensure that women and girls have access to safe post-abortion care;

        (d)    Address the high incidence of obstetric fistula and the physical and economic barriers resulting in women’s limited access to antenatal, delivery and postnatal care;

        (e)    Ensure that perpetrators of forced sterilizations are prosecuted and adequately punished, prevent unnecessary gender reassignment surgery in law and in practice, identify and eliminate the barriers preventing victims from gaining access to justice and ensure that they have access to effective reparation, including compensation.

Rural women

The Committee recommended that the State party:

        (a)    Effectively implement the Enforcement of Women’s Property Rights Act of 2019, increase women’s access to land through inheritance, purchase or distribution of state land, and protect women’s land ownership;

        (b)    Eliminate discriminatory practices and customs that prevent rural women from acquiring and inheriting property, including from using land, and from participating in development projects as decision makers and beneficiaries;

        (c)    Strengthen access by rural women to health care and other basic services, including education, promote their participation in decision-making and involve them in the design, development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of all relevant policies and strategies.

Disadvantaged groups of women

The Committee recommended that the State party:

        (a)    Address intersecting forms of discrimination against women and girls belonging to ethnic and religious minority groups, in particular Ahmadi, Christian, Dalit, Hindu, scheduled caste, Roma, Sheedi, and Sikh women and girls;

        (b)    Provide information, disaggregated by sex, age, disability, ethnicity, religion and geographical location, collected through the Human Rights Information Management System, on women facing intersecting forms of discrimination in its next periodic report.

Marriage and family relations

The Committee recommended that the State party expedite the adoption of a bill to amend the Christian Marriage Act and the Christian Divorce Act and of the marriage bill for Sikhs. It further recommends that the State party:

        (a)    Adopt a bill to amend the Child Marriage Restraint Act to set the minimum age of marriage at 18 years for both sexes without exceptions throughout the State party;

        (b)    Amend the Penal Code to make offences related to forced marriage cognizable and continue raising awareness among all communities and at all levels about the criminal nature and harmful effects of child and forced marriage on the education, health and development of girls;

        (c)    Amend the Muslim Family Laws Ordinance and take all necessary measures to discourage and prohibit polygamy and to ensure the protection of the economic rights of women in existing polygamous marriages;

        (d)    Ensure that the family laws of the different religious communities provide for financial protection for women upon divorce in the form of equal levels of marital support and equitable shares in matrimonial property;

        (e)    Amend or repeal all discriminatory provisions in laws that provide for unequal rights of women with respect to marriage, divorce, guardianship, inheritance and property.

Data collection

The Committee called upon the State party to develop capacity-building measures to improve the collection of data disaggregated by sex, age, ethnicity, religion, migration status, disability and other relevant factors, which are necessary to assess the impact and effectiveness of policies and programmes aimed at enhancing the enjoyment by women of their rights. In this regard, the Committee draws attention to its general recommendation No. 9 (1989) on statistical data concerning the situation of women.

Optional Protocol to the Convention and amendment to article 20 (1) of the Convention

The Committee encouraged the State party to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention and to accept, as soon as possible, the amendment to article 20 (1) of the Convention concerning the meeting time of the Committee.

Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action

The Committee called upon the State party to use the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and to further evaluate the realization of the rights enshrined in the Convention in the context of the 25-year review of the implementation of the Declaration and Platform in order to achieve substantive equality between women and men.

Dissemination

The Committee requested the State party to ensure the timely dissemination of the present concluding observations, in the official language of the State party, to the relevant State institutions at all levels (national, regional and local), in particular to the National Assembly, the provincial assemblies and the judiciary, to enable their full implementation.

Technical assistance

The Committee recommended that the State party link the implementation of the Convention to its development efforts and that it avail itself of regional or international technical assistance in this respect.

Ratification of other treaties

The Committee encouraged the State party to ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families and the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, to which it is not yet a party.

Follow-up to the concluding observations

The Committee requested the State party to provide, within two years, written information on the steps taken to implement the following recommendations:

  • Adopt legislation to criminalize all forms of gender-based violence against women, including domestic violence and marital rape, without exemptions;
  • Adopt a national plan of action to combat all forms of gender-based violence against women, with a particular focus on domestic violence;
  • Ensure the effective enforcement of the Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Act and of the Prevention of Smuggling of Migrants Act, including through systematic training for judges, prosecutors, border police, immigration authorities and other law enforcement officials, and strengthen labour inspections, in particular in sectors employing seasonal workers and in private households;
  • Enact legislation and take all necessary measures to increase school enrolment among girls and reduce their dropout rate, especially at the secondary level, by, inter alia, holding parents (or guardians) responsible for school attendance, formulating re-entry policies to enable young women to return to school after pregnancy and adopting programmes for the retention of girls in the education system;

Pakistan’s 6th periodic report to the CEDAW will be due in February 2024.


        

One thought on “CEDAW’s concluding observations to Pakistan’s Fifth Periodic Report

  1. Impressive webpage! They are doing great work.It’s a very comprehensively written report, thats is factual and focused. Well structured covering all the areas effectively. Thumbs up and keep up the good work.

Leave a Reply to Haleema Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *