Statement by Ms. Khawar Mumtaz, Chairperson, National Commission
On the Status of Women (NCSW) at the General Debate of the
58th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women
(New York, 13 March, 2014)
I would like to congratulate you on your election as the Chair of this 58th Session of CSW. The Session carries special significance as it compels us to reflect and take stock of where we are in relation to MDGs, especially the ones relating to women and girls. I think we all agree that while significant progress has been made on the MDGs, the results are uneven across various goals and targets with wide variations among regions and countries. And, this is true for Pakistan also.
Pakistan’s progress on MDGs was negatively impacted by a series of natural disasters- earthquakes and repeated floods which destroyed infrastructure and displaced 90 million people in 2010-11. The global financial crisis and security challenges also added to our hardship.
These acted as setbacks, and Pakistan could not achieve progress on all MDGs across all its regions. While we have made satisfactory progress on 10 indicators, we are lagging behind on others including some relating to women empowerment.
- Pakistan is on-track on its poverty reduction target with absolute poverty showing a downward trend (from 34.5% in 2001-02 to 12.4% in 2010-2011). This is attributed in part to the unconditional cash transfer scheme (Income Support Programme) which provides cash assistance to the poorest 20% households and through women. The measure has opened wide ranging opportunities for women from participation in election to accessing credit.
- Its major achievement has been women’s representation in national parliament and provincial Assemblies. Women have been 20-22% of these bodies. Their active participation led to at least half a dozen legislations for protecting and promoting women rights.
- Over the last few years, the Government has passed landmark legislations to prevent violence against women and to protect women’s social and economic rights. These includes; the law against honor killings; Women Protection Act 2006, that criminalizes rape; protection against sexual harassment at workplace law whereby federal and provincial Ombudsmen have been appointed with a robust implementation mechanism; law against acid crimes that has raised conviction rates by 14% and registration of cases by 50%; prevention of anti-women practices including forced marriage and denial of inheritance; and establishment of a Fund for women in distress.
- The 1973 Constitution of Pakistan ensures equality of all citizens irrespective of sex and calls on the state to make special efforts to bring women and girls into the mainstream of public life. Over the years, Pakistan has produced outstanding women who serve as role models for successive generations, including the first women Prime Minister and the first Speaker of National Assembly in the Muslim world. Today, Pakistani women are active in every field of life. Our women have joined as fighter pilots, are heading boards of corporations, serving as leading lawyers, and we also have a strong civil society advocating for human rights.
- Pakistan registered a significant decline in its Maternal Mortality Rate, from 500 maternal deaths per 100,000 in 1990 to 276 deaths per 100,000 in 2006-07. Total Fertility Rate decreased to 3.8 births per women in 2012-2013 (from 5.5 births per women in 1986-91). Contraceptive Prevalence Rate has increased to 35%. Slow progress on maternal health is mainly due to the lack of pre and post natal care services, hemorrhage and anemia resulting from poor diet.
- Average age at first marriage has risen to 19.5 years from 19.1 years in 2006. The median age at first birth for women has risen to 22.2 years. Knowledge of at least one modern method of family planning is 99% in married women. The challenge is to match needs with services.
- On education, Pakistan MDG Report 2013 reveals a gender gap in literacy rates. Overall literacy rate is 58%; female literacy rate is 47% compared to 70% for men. Gender discrepancy in education persists due to teacher absenteeism, drop outs of girls and insufficient number of schools in rural areas.
- This has also been a time of reflection for Pakistan; why have MDGs not been achieved? In order to overcome the remaining challenges to the achievement of MDG targets, the Government of Pakistan is experimenting with new approaches, some out of the box, which include evidence-based programme planning ,technology-based monitoring of field staff, partnerships with vibrant non-profit sector organizations for service delivery and monitoring, taking skill training to women’s doorsteps, special loan schemes for youth – 50% of which is earmarked for girls, and including behavioral change components in its programmes. We are confident that adoption of these new innovative measures will give faster and greater results.
- In conclusion, let me reiterate that Pakistan is deeply committed to the agenda of women empowerment and will pursue the objective of Beijing Declaration and the MDG goals till fully achieved.
- Pakistan is also supportive of the stand-alone women empowerment goal and stands for mainstreaming women’s perspective in Sustainable Development Goals.
I thank you Mr. Chairman.