||Ms. Mussarat, Directorate of Social
Welfare and Human Rights
|Introduction and objectives
|Video presentation on Sexual Harassment
||directed by Mir Mustafa Raisani
|Summary of Code of Conduct
||Dr. Fouzia Saeed
|Address by Chief Guest
||Mr. Tenola, Advocate General, Baluchistan
|Speech by Special Speaker
||Sohail Sikander, Ministry of Women Development
|Vote of Thanks
The Directorate of social welfare, human rights and women development hosted the meeting, and was assisted by Conscience Promoters on behalf of AASHA.
The Chief Guest was the advocate general of the province, who endorsed the Code of Conduct.
The meeting was a grouping together of workers and NGOs of Quetta, along with journalists, officials and policy makers. There was verbal unanimity on the need for legislation regarding harassment at the workplace, but this consultation probed into and questioned effectives of implementation procedures at length.
In the welcome address, Ms. Mussarat spoke about the importance of the concern, and urged participants to work towards elimination of such practices in their own capacity. She informed participants that this consultation was a part of a nation-wide process, one in each province, which would feed into an aggregate national consultation
Naila Qadri from Conscience Promoters introduced the aims and objectives of the Code, and briefly outlined the socio-political and religious concomitant and dynamics of the province, and urged the need for publicizing issues such as sexual harassment as dire and immediate. She added a powerful, personal narrative of the hindrance sexual harassment has created for her in person, and how it affected her work. She spoke about the role such legislation would play towards women's mobility, education, and overall national development.
Dr. Fouzia Saeed then introduced the Code of Conduct for gender justice at the workplace and highlighted its main points. She mentioned that the impetus for the Code was owed to Dr. Atiya Inayatullah, who consistently supported and pushed the policy making process forward.
This was followed by video clips made by Conscience Promoters which were dramatized picturization of incidents of sexual harassment.
The Advocate General of the province, Ashraf Khan Tanola reiterated the urgency of a law on sexual harassment and gender justice emphasizing that a voluntary adoption would not be enough. He also stated that the variables and subjective conditions of every area of the country should be kept in consideration and flexibility should be kept to cover all concerns. He mentioned that at the same time, the issue of false complaints and their possibility should not be overlooked.
This was followed by a thorough discussion about the social context of the province and with particular focus on restrictions on mobility of women and lack of acceptance of women working, and the barriers that created for redress of sexual harassment. But the concurrent view was that such legislation was necessary, but there should be no complacency once it is passed at the national level – implementation would be a constant challenge.
The need for the Code of conduct was endorsed, and all participants urged that the initiative should go beyond being a Code. The Advocate General of the province also backed the proposal that to ensure proper implementation, it should be made into a binding law, and violation of, a cognizable offense.
It was acknowledged that security of women was at stake once they left the home for work or other purposes, and that ordinarily women would hesitate in accessing the Code, even when relevant. Even though rape is a criminal act against the law, and women have legal redress, they choose not to report cases. So the attitudinal change was seen as a necessity, a cross board overhaul was required and though it was a daunting task, it was agreed everyone present must challenge the power structures.
The participants felt that harassment of and violence against women was so widespread and insidious, that on an issue like harassment, there was a limit to how many people a woman can challenge, since this is faced on every front. Though there was overall agreement that the Code was required, it was felt it should not be an effort in isolation and needed to be complemented with other simultaneous initiatives to create an environment where the Code could be effective.
It was voiced that awareness raising and public consciousness was imperative, and for this end, the Code needed to be translated into vernacular.
There were unique and concrete suggestions regarding the methods of making implementation of the Code binding, such as making review of implementation of Code a part of the audit process for companies. Adding qualitative assessments in audits has been successful regarding environmental standards and labor exploitation, which are featured in certifications such as ISO 9005. This would be an interesting area to explore, to customize audits with reference to Pakistan.
It was recommended that the Code should be included in the curriculum and workshops should be conducted at college and school level for conscience raising.
There emerged a useful suggestion, that not only should the Code be disseminated extensively in form of booklets, but that all employees covered in the Code should be given copies of the Code at time of recruitment.
It was stated that the Code of Conduct should be should be incorporated in service rules and an overarching complaint committee should be constituted, with women's rights activists, higher officials and other pillars of civil society, and that this committee should be accessible for all women. A particular focus was placed on women who were government employees to have other, non-hierarchal options, given that ACRs (Annual Credential Report) play a major role in career advancement, which can be manipulated by line managers, for which no redress is possible.
A recommendation supported by all participants that women councilors should be involved in the process.