Accountability Mechanisms, Gender Transformative Approaches & Post-legislative Scrutiny

An expert discussion on how gender transformative approaches can be institutionalized and embedded into accountability mechanisms and post legislative scrutiny.

Date: August 12, 2020
Timings: 3:30pm -5:30pm (PKT)
Via Zoom


About the webinar:

This webinar will conclude the series of discussion on pro-women legislation in Pakistan and engaging men at various stages of legislative and implementation processes. Emphasizing the challenges faced in the implementation of pro-women laws such as societal norms around gender, the speakers will share insights on how to institutionalize gender transformative approaches. Reviewing existing accountability mechanisms and post-legislative scrutiny, the discussion will focus on how women and girls who experience violence can be better protected and support services can be strengthened. The discussion on post legislative scrutiny will consider the usefulness of accountability mechanisms available to measure and analyze the state of government institutions tasked with offering protection to women. The speakers will also discuss how men can be engaged to strengthen these mechanisms and institutions.

The discussion will be guided by the following questions:

1. How important is a gender transformative approach in addressing VAWG? In what ways it can be institutionalized? How can it be institutionalized?
2. What revisions are required in accountability mechanisms to ensure effectiveness of pro women legislation?
3. How do men perceive accountability while working on women issues? How is it linked with a gender transformative approach?
4. What strategies can be adopted to strengthen accountability mechanisms within a gender framework once due legislation is in place?
5. How can we ensure that work with men and boys upholds the rights of women and gender minorities and contributes to their empowerment?
6. In a post legislative scenario, how are men’s roles in governance, justice system and administrative bodies, linked with accountability and responsibility?


Pro-women legislation in Pakistan

In recent years, several laws aimed at protecting women’s rights have been passed in Pakistan. These include the Protection for Women (Criminal Law Amendment) Act 2006, Protection against Harassment of Women at Workplace 2010, Prevention of Anti- Women Practices Bill, Acid Control and Acid Crimes Prevention Bill 2011, Women in Distress and Detention Fund (Amendment) Bill and Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Act, 2012.

Following the 18th Amendment and the devolution of power to provinces, provincial legislatures have also passed pro-women laws and made amendments to existing laws. These include the Sindh Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Act 2013, Balochistan Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Act, 2014 and Punjab Protection of Women against Violence Act 2016. Additionally, the Hindu Marriage Act 2016 stipulated a marriage registration process for Hindu citizens of Pakistan, allowing Hindu women to legally register their marriage.

These legislative measures are often seen as great steps towards protecting women against gender-based violence and discrimination and touted by policymakers as having improved women’s economic and social position in Pakistan. However, significant gaps remain in the implementation of these laws and the growing number of GBV cases in Pakistan overshadow these legislative achievements.

Status of women in Pakistan

Pakistan ranks 151 out of 153 countries on the Global Gender Gap Index Report 2020 index, published by the World Economic Forum (WEF) only managing to surpass Iraq and Yemen. Pakistan received a score of 150 in economic participation and opportunity, 143 in educational attainment, 149 in health and survival and 93 in political empowerment. A comparison of previous rankings shows that the overall ranking for Pakistan has declined from 112 in 2006 to 151 in 2020. Among the seven South Asian countries included in the index, Pakistan charted at the very bottom. Bangladesh ranked 50, followed by Nepal, 101, Sri Lanka, 102, India, 112, Maldives, 123, and Bhutan, 131. Overall, South Asia has closed two-thirds of its gender gap. The region is home to 860 million women, three-fourths of whom live in India.

According to the Human Development Report 2019, Pakistan reported Gender Development Index (GDI) 0.747 and Gender Inequality Index (GII) 0.547 which was highest in the region. These indicators reflect discrimination faced by women in health, education and command over economic resources. A high GII value reveals the loss in human development due to inequality between women and men in reproductive health, empowerment and economic activity.

Pakistan’s poor performance on these indicators raise questions about the effectiveness of legislative measures aimed at protecting women and reducing gender-based inequalities and discrimination. The COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on social and economic life have created additional difficulties for women, with more cases of GBV being reported. Lessons from pandemics in the past also show an increased risk of sexual exploitation of women across the world. If these trends are also witnessed in Pakistan, increased sexual violence, coupled with lack of access to SRH facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic can have disastrous impact on women’s health and overall wellbeing.

Role of men and boys in implementation of pro-women laws:

Several studies point to the importance of engaging men and boys in efforts to reduce GBV. Unpacking masculinities, addressing harmful practices and attitudes by including men and boys in discussions is pivotal in bringing sustained change.

Similarly, when the implementation of pro-women laws in Pakistan is analyzed, police, health and social welfare departments emerge as key institutions where according to the law, response services are centered. Effective implementation would require both structural and non-structural changes in these institutions. Police in Pakistan, for instance, is largely dominated by men who make up around 98 per cent of the force.The police is one of the most important institutions in the implementation of pro-women laws, however, women make up only 1.5 per cent of the force. When analysed through the lens of traditional masculinities, these numbers allude to the impediments to offering quality services to women in accordance with the law. The speakers in this webinar will be discussing the importance of addressing the gender gap in public services, especially those related to the implementation of pro-women laws.