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Senate approves women's protection bill 2012

03 February, 2012

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ISLAMABAD: The Senate on Thursday unanimously passed the National Commission on the Status of Women Bill 2012 to protect women's rights against every sort of discrimination.

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Human Rights Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar presented the bill, which had already been passed by the National Assembly. Both the treasury and opposition parities supported the bill. However, Senator Professor Khurshid Ahmad called for introducing some amendments to the bill before he favoured it.

The commission will be independent having autonomous status with full financial and administrative powers. Its fundamental functions will be to examine policies, programmes and other measures taken by the government for women's welfare and gender equality.

Its preamble cited the main objectives of what the government called the fulfillment of one of its promises for the independence of Pakistani women as "promotion of social, economic, political and legal rights of women" as provided in the constitution and "in accordance with international declarations, conventions, treaties, conventions and agreements relating to women, including the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women".

The commission will consist of a chairperson, who shall be a person with experience of working on women's rights for more than 15 years, understand international commitments of the country, have a legal understanding and is committed to the cause of women's empowerment. It will also have two members from each province and one member each from FATA, AJK, Gilgit-Baltistan, Islamabad Capital Territory and two members from minorities. A member must be at least 30 years of age, having experience on women's rights for more than five years and "committed to the cause of women's empowerment".

The bill said the chairperson and members, including ex-officio, would be appointed by the prime minister from among names recommended by the parliamentary committee from a list agreed with the leader of opposition in the National Assembly containing three names for each post – or separate lists to be sent by the two in case of difference between them.

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