By: zulfiqar Ali Khan
Hunza, October 27: Although violence against women in Hunza and Nagar valleys are negligible however the population of seventy thousand women is still deprived of basic health and education facilities in Hunza and Nagar valleys. This was reported in a consultative workshop organized by ASR Resource Center Lahore with the collaboration of United Northern Areas NGOs (UNAN). The workshop was part of the consultative meetings aimed to develop a comprehensive report about the status of women in Gilgit-Baltistan to be presented in United Nation as part of the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). About 25 representatives of village-based social welfare organizations participated the workshop.
The representatives of ASR briefed the participants about the CEDAW convention and said that it is for the first time to include the status of women in Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir in national level report.
The representatives of local organizations said that accessibility is main issue as compare to social and cultural barriers for female education and employment. They reported that the highly scatted Hunza and Nagar valley lack schools, colleges and vocational institutes for women. They said literacy rate of women in Hunza is high due to the efforts of Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) but the government is failed to provide opportunities for women.
They said that there is not a single gynecologist for a population of about seventy thousand women in Hunza and Nagar valley.
They said Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) has a great contribution for the development of women in the region. Representatives of women organizations also highlighted the issues of inheritance and the preference of parents for son over daughters.
Parveen Ali Jan, member, District Council Gilgit said that improvement in education has also improved the status of women in the region. She said health facilities are really poor in the region and there is lack of awareness about balance diet particularly during pregnancy. She said nutritional problems have had a negative impact on pregnancy and lactation of the women.
Focus group meetings were also held with women groups, government officials, political representatives and media personnel.
Women organizations have however criticized for not engaging the real representative organizations of women in the consultative process.
Pakistan signed the CEDAW convention during 1996. By signing this agreement Pakistan is ethically and legally bound to take all necessary measures to end discriminate policies and laws and discourage all traditions that hinder women’s progress and equality with men. Pakistan has hardly been able to introduce some cosmetic measures in this regard. The situation further gets worse in FANA, FATA and AJK. The government makes no effort to extend the implementation of international agreements to these oppressed areas. The people of Gilgit-Baltistan are already facing a problem of citizenship. These aspects are further affecting the women more severely. ASR has thus, for the first time, initiated this process in Gilgit-Baltistan and AJK so that CEDAW could be implemented in these oppressed areas.