By Syed Ali Jubran
While speaking to a roundtable discussion, Syeda Shehla Raza, Minister For Women Development Govt. of Sindh said just after flood her department took measures to cater to the initial needs of women who came in the camps in Karachi.
“We arranged sanitary napkins, pampers, biscuits and milk for children besides cooked food etc as women and children had major problems in accessing bathrooms, in the schools or colleges where they were camped. The expected rain was 49mm but it exceeded to 1700 mm and it was a crisis which was beyond our control, yet the department along with other line departments did its best to give relief to the people,” she maintained.
The round table was jointly organized by the Sindh Commission on Status of Women, UNFPA and Pathfinder International on the topic of ‘Crisis Within a Crisis: Climate Emergencies and Violence Against Women’, held yesterday at Movenpick, Karachi. The session was held as part of the series of events being held in Sindh, Pakistan and globally in light of 16 Days of Activism to End Violence Against Women and Girls.
The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is an annual international campaign that kicks off on 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and runs until 10 December, Human Rights Day.
Ms. Nuzhat Shirin, Chairperson SCSW, Ms. Bayramgul Garabayeva, Head of Office UNFPA Sindh and Dr. Zaib Dahar, Senior Technical Advisor Pathfinder International extended a warm welcome to the audience. The honourable Minister for Women Development, Shehla Raza and the Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Coastal Development, Mohammad Ismail Rahoo joined the event as chief guests. In her keynote address, Ms. Shehla Raza highlighted the need to build climate resilient infrastructure to protect women from GBV, particularly in times of crisis. She also highlighted the legislation done in Sindh, and called for a change of the collective behaviour in society for extending support to victims of abuse and violence. She cited the case being fought by Mehdi Kazmi to seek justice for her daughter. Mohammad Ismail Rahoo emphasised upon the economic empowerment of women and protection of their livelihoods to make them less vulnerable to GBV.
Other distinguished guests and panelists included Veerji Kohli, Special Assistant to CM, Anjum Iqbal Jumani, Secretary WDD, Imdad Hussain Siddiqui, Director Operations PDMA, Waqar Memon, Director MIS, Department of Health, Behzad Amin Memon, Director Monitoring and Evaluation, Planning and Development Department, Ms. Renuka Swami, Program Analyst UNFPA, Ms. Shanzae Asif, Program Manager, Legal Aid Society.
The panel discussion was followed by an interactive question and answer session, in which members of the transgender community raised their concerns over creating more inclusivity in such dialogues. Last week on 24th of November, Pathfinder International, UNFPA and Women Development Department Sindh had lit up the Sindh Assembly Building and Teen Talwar Monument with orange color to bring attention to the cause of activism against gender-based violence. With the support of government of Sindh, civil society will continue to raise awareness and sensitivity for this cause of the next two weeks as part of a global campaign.