Promises! Promises! Promises! Promises are meant to be broken, especially when they are made in the context of women’s rights and status.
This is the sad reality of Pakistan’s leadership backing off from meeting its commitments to the international community and, more importantly, to its own citizens. In the past few decades, Pakistan has signed and ratified many significant UN conventions and covenants, only to fall far short when it comes to implementation or amending local laws to bring them in conformity with international standards.
- Pakistan ratified CEDAW in 1996: two decades later, it is far from implementation
- Women’s low status deprives the state of realising the full productive potential of half the population
- The Gender Gap Index 2015 ranked Pakistan 2nd from the bottom among 145 countries
Pakistan has also committed itself to meeting the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with the objective of building on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). While all 17 have an impact on women since they form 50pc of the world’s population, SDGs 5 specifically covers gender equality and women’s empowerment. In fact, at a meeting of world leaders in New York on September 27, 2015, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was among those who were vociferous in making firm commitments to meet the goal of gender equality. Anniversaries are a time for taking stock. Pakistan has had to contend with many such occasions and has, on each occasion, tried to put up a good face before interlocutors from the international community. This process has unfolded before each Universal Periodic Review conducted by the Human Rights Council at the United Nations, where Pakistan’s representatives try and put up a brave front in defending the country’s human rights record. Meanwhile, the Gender Gap Index 2015 ranked Pakistan second from the last among 145 countries in terms of the prevalence of gender-based disparities.