Aurat Foundation Organizes Seminar:
‘18th Amendment: Opportunities and Challenges for Provinces and Women’
In order to share and discuss various aspects of 18th Amendment with members of civil society and media, Aurat Foundation organized a seminar on at Holiday Inn hotel. The event was titled as ‘18th Amendment: Opportunities and Challenges for Provinces and Women’. The event was presided by Anis Haroon, Chairperson, National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW). Jami Chandio, Executive Director Center for Peace and Civil Society, Rehana Hashmi, Exective Director Sisters Trust and Consultant with UN Women were the main speaker on the 18th Amendment.
Anis Haroon, in her concluding remarks, declined the understanding of some sections of population and human rights groups that devolution of Ministry of Women’s Development (MoWD) would destroy the women’s cause. Such groups and sections of population wrongly they think that provinces and provincial institutions are not sensitized enough to effectively take up the women issues. She told the participants that most of resolutions regarding women’s rights and issues were put and discussed in the Sindh Assembly; similarly resolution were also presented in other Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhaw. However, issues of women’s rights were not taken up in the Punjab assembly. She said that not the provinces but the federal structure need to build up capacity.
Jami Chandio, Executive Director Center for Peace and Civil Society, in his presentation said that under 18th Amendment, 102 clauses of the Constitution Pakistan have been amended. The one major significance of 18th Amendment is that it has reversed the centralization of state institutions which done by the British colonizers. The amendment has effectively formulated the provincial autonomy. A number of ministries, around twenty one, were unnecessarily being kept with the federation while the issues they represent were more of provincial nature. So far, notification has been issued to devolve to the provinces, which include M/o Local Government, M/o Population, M/o Special Initiative, M/o Youth Affairs, M/o Zakat-O-Usher, M/o Education, M/o Livestock, and M/o Women Development. He also said the amendment has also made some existing institutions effective and active. For example, Council of Common Interest (CII) was a good-for-nothing institution and occasionally had meetings before the 18th Amendment. In the post-amendment times now, the CCI frequently hold its meetings and discuss important issues and take decisions.
Rehana Hashmi, women’s rights activist and Executive Director Sisters’ Trust, expressed disappointment that the government is still nowhere near to decide whether to devolve Ministry of Women’s Development (MoWD) to provinces, or not to, or what kind of structure to keep at the federal level if at all. She said that the government hasn’t still issued the notification for devolution of MoWD, neither it has decided the financial and administrative particulars of any independent commission on women’s development.
Naeem Mirza, Chief Operating Officer (COO), Aurat Foundation, said that some people take devolution of the MoWD as ‘termination’, which is not true. He argued that instead of opposing the devolution we shall initiate a dialogue among the main stakeholders on to frame and decide the modalities of the devolution of the MoWD to provinces.
One of the women participants, in fact farmer councillor, strongly demanded the government to immediately restore the Local Government System, as with put this system in place, the devolution of various ministries and institution would be effective in terms of their performance. The participants and speakers agree with the demand. Nayyar Shabana, National Coordinator, Legislative Watch Programme of Aurat Foundation moderated the seminar.