Tashkent, 22 August 2022 (TDI): Nilofar Bakhtiar, the Chairperson of the National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW), led a Pakistani delegation to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Women’s Forum.

The Forum was held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, on August 18-19, 2022. Tanzila Narbayeva, Chairman of the Senate of Uzbekistan, inaugurated this year’s SCO Women’s Forum.

The SCO is an intergovernmental organization created on June 15, 2001, in Shanghai. Currently, it has eight member countries; China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

Moreover, it has four observer countries interested in full membership, as well as six “Dialogue Partners.”

The Forum was convened to examine issues of ensuring gender equality; to foster contact among SCO nations in the formulation and implementation of effective measures in the sphere of gender equality.

Likewise, it focused on empowering women and increasing their role in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The forum was attended by the heads of states of the member countries, government women’s machinery from all SCO nations, political and public figures, members of civil society, international organizations, diplomatic corps, and national & international media.

Nilofar Bakhtiar thanked and complimented the Parliamentarians of Uzbekistan for hosting this event in her address at the forum.

She stated that they had all come together to assist one another by sharing their experiences and solutions for achieving the shared goal of women’s social and economic growth.

She described Pakistan as a country with a rich cultural diversity as well as a friendly and supportive social climate. Along these lines, she went on to add that like every other country in the area, Pakistan faced challenges in developing a gender-balanced society.

However, it is certain that women’s development is now part of the government’s human rights program. Women are being recognized as valuable team members by policymakers.

In the same vein, Pakistan will soon arrive at a point where women will be recognized as equally significant players in national development.

She stated that women are now in a better position and have more chances for health, education, and political participation as a result of decades of hard work.

What’s more, women’s political participation has come a long way, but there is still a long way to go. Furthermore, rapidly evolving information technology has also created new opportunities for economic development.

The Chairperson of the National Commission on the Status of Women also discussed the National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW), which was founded by a presidential edict in 2000.

The Commission was granted financial and administrative autonomy by the NCSW Act in 2012. It was the result of the Government of Pakistan’s national and international commitments.

These include the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action in 1995 and the National Plan of Action (NPA) for Women in 1998.

Nilofar Bakhtiar further explained that NCSW’s most successful strategy has been to collaborate with civil society networks and organizations, government departments, universities, bilateral and multilateral donors, and parliamentarians – mostly women members of assemblies.

While the institutional priorities of NCSW are to improve provincial coordination; identify shortcomings in laws related to honor killings and raise public and law enforcement agency awareness of existing laws and access to them.

Moreover, taking appropriate measures to ensure disaggregated data collection on all forms of violence against women, including domestic violence; advocating for universal education for girls; & women’s 33% quotas in elected/non-elected decision-making is also its priority.

In conclusion, the Chairperson stated that in terms of decision-making and political participation, they had long engagements with the Election Commission of Pakistan.

Similarly, they had remained very supportive of the Electoral Reforms Process, Sensitization and Training of Media for Election Reporting, Women’s Electoral Registration Campaigns, Election Observation Process, as well as in-depth research on voting patterns.

It is noteworthy, that the participants of the forum emphasized the importance of women’s cooperation in strengthening public diplomacy and the growing importance of gender interaction.

This would be in a deepening friendly, mutually beneficial, and equal relations among SCO member countries in achieving sustainable development goals in a joint declaration.

It was also underscored that women’s ever-increasing participation in building public architecture, state administration, and issue resolution in the fields of security, environmental protection, economic, social, scientific, technological, cultural, and humanitarian domains should be promoted further.