The passing of the Prevention of Anti-Women Practices Act 2011 by Parliament, declaring the denial of property rights to women and forced marriages as severe offences, undoubtedly, is an initiative that will take Pakistan several notches up on the ladder of morality and social justice. At the international level, the touchstone of morality of a nation or society is the way it treats its womenfolk. Women are a very important segment of any society, and without their unhindered participation in all spheres of national life, no nation can march towards its cherished goals of economic, political and cultural progress, as well as aspire to earn a respectable place in the comity of nations. That, perhaps, adequately explains the difference between the developed and non-developed nations. It is a shame that Pakistani women have long been subjected to discrimination, harassment and violence on the basis of misconstrued understanding of religion and cultural traditions. They have been treated as inferior human beings and deliberately kept out of the national mainstream by successive regimes whose prime concern has been to protect their vested interests through the perpetuation of the feudal system of governance, which discourages womens participation in national affairs. A close and objective appraisal of Pakistans political history reveals that notwithstanding the incessant flak directed at the PPP by its detractors, the party enjoys the unique and unrivalled distinction of pioneering efforts for the emancipation of women in the country. To begin with, the 1973 Constitution given by the party, headed by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, ensured equal rights for women. During Benazir Bhuttos government, the Ministry of Human Rights was established in 1993 to monitor and investigate human rights abuses, particularly against women. Also, Pakistan ratified the UN Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). On the development side, First Women Bank was established to provide easy credit to women and encourage entrepreneurial undertakings in order to strengthen their economic emancipation. Thousands of vocational training centres were set up throughout the country to improve skills and chances of employability of women in productive pursuits. A vast network of 133,000 health practitioners, exclusively to cater to the health needs of women, as well as to address reproductive health issues, was put in place. This initiative has invariably been touted as Pakistans showpiece health programme by many governments. The present PPP government has also shown its unswerving commitment and dedication to the cause of women by promulgating the Protection of Women from Harassment at Workplace Bill 2009. The legislation marked the beginning of a pragmatic and forward-looking approach in conformity with the emerging social realities. With the growing number of women joining or aspiring to join the workforce in different fields of national life, the problem of harassment of women at their workplaces had also assumed alarming proportions. According to a survey, about 80 percent of working women in Pakistan at one time or another have been through this ordeal. The new legislation on harassment, and amendment in Section 509(A) of the Pakistan Penal Code, lays a solid foundation for ensuring a harassment free working environment for women. It is a significant initiative on many counts: Firstly, it will encourage working women, who have been enduring the humiliation of sexual harassment in the absence of an appropriate legal support, to resist unwanted approaches by their workmates or bosses. Secondly, it will remove the biggest hurdle in the way of women, who were reluctant to join the workforce. Thirdly, it would greatly help in changing the mindset of those who indulge in the detestable pursuit of sexual harassment of women. It will also act as a catalyst to nudge the process of social and economic change. Women constitute nearly 51 percent of our population and their participation in economic activities can impart impetus to the governments efforts to eliminate poverty. The step has been widely acclaimed as epoch-making move by the Pakistan government, including the UN and NGOs dealing with women issues, the world over. The PPP government can rightly boast of legislating on another very important and sensitive issue of domestic violence. For years, domestic violence has been a source of public concern, but no government ever dared to delve into it. The courage and commitment shown by the present government to deal with this problem through the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act 2008 is beyond any reproach. The granting of complete administrative and financial autonomy to the National Commission on Status of Women and fixation of 10 percent quota for women in the government jobs, in addition to the initiation of the process to review all discriminatory laws against women, will surely contribute to women emancipation and accelerate the process of development, besides improving Pakistans image as a progressive Islamic country. Certainly, this unacknowledged social revolution deserves adequate attention of the media and society. The writer is a freelance columnist. Email: