ISLAMABAD - The National Commission on Status of Women (NCSW) has held a two-day National Consultation on Gender Equality and Womens Empowerment Post-devolution with the support of UN Women and Gender Equity Program of Aurat Foundation. The participants included representatives of federal and provincial government women development departments, and prominent civil society organizations, lawyers and judges as well as academia. Fiza Batool Gilani, Goodwill Ambassador for Empowerment of Women, said that according to the Constitution of Pakistan, gender equality was a fundamental right and that the government was committed to the gender equality and advancement of the women. She stressed that in the new post-devolution scenario, the provincial womens machinery would be responsible for policymaking and would require further human and financial resources in this regard. She also said that the Ministry of Human Rights and NCSW would have a critical role in fulfilling the international and national commitments. Anis Haroon, chairperson of NCSW, said that despite many efforts by the government to bring womens agenda to the forefront, the national womens machinery remained at the bottom of the tier with lowest human and financial resources. In the new scenario, there was dire need to establish coordination mechanisms between federal and provincial structures, she said, adding that the NCSW would have a pivotal role in this regard. She informed the participants that the bill for a permanent NCW had been approved by the cabinet and the parliamentary standing committee, and it only awaited approval from the parliament. The federal government would continue to report on international commitments like Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) for which the Ministry of Human Rights would be playing a pivotal role whereas NCSW will continue to support women friendly legislation, she said. Provincial governments presented their vision of gender equality and their mechanisms for strengthening the provincial womens machinery. Ms. Pamela Patten, CEDAW Committee member and an international expert, discussed the CEDAW and the states responsibility of reporting to this convention. She emphasised that in the ambit of current national and international commitments, there was dire need to take measures to reduce gender inequalities, and to ensure that all legislations were in line with the CEDAW. MNA Nafeesa Shah chaired the session about developing guidelines for national framework on gender equality. She said that formation of an institutionalised uniform planning and implementation mechanism was a responsibility of the state of Pakistan. She said that the National Womens Parliamentary Caucus was one example where the women parliamentarians, regardless of the party politics, worked jointly towards the cause of women. Farida Shaheed, UN independent expert in the field of womens rights, emphasised that the National Plan of Action formulated by Pakistan in 1998 and the National Policy for Development and Empowerment of Women launched in 2002 had been the guiding documents which needed to be taken into account while making the policy framework. CEDAW and other international commitments also need to be taken into account while preparing the vision of gender equality of Pakistan. Minister for Women Development Sindh, Tauqeer Fatima Bhutto and Minister for Women Development Balochistan, Ghazala Golu also contributed actively in the consultation.