ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: The Federal Ministry of Law and Justice launched the Women in Law Award and held the first-ever Symposium on Diversity and Inclusion in Islamabad on Wednesday.
The event marks a key milestone of a collaboration between the MoL&J, Group Development Pakistan, and the Women in Law Initiative Pakistan for increasing women’s representation in law, with support from the Australian High Commission and the British High Commission.
His Excellency the Australian High Commissioner Dr. Geoffrey Shaw and the British High Commission Political Counsellor Ms. Iona Thomas graced the event.
The event began with a symposium on diversity and inclusion in the morning which featured a panel talk on fair representation.
The speakers included Hon’ble Justice (retd) Nasira Iqbal, Barrister Taimur Malik, Barrister Aneesa Agha, and ASP Ayesha Gul.
The panel highlighted the need for institutional responsibility and reforms for fair representation in the justice sector through constitutional and legal amendments but also softer measures for undertaking gap analysis studies, gender audit of laws and policies, and setting up of diversity and inclusion committees to ensure fair representation in all spheres of the justice sector, including in the process and conversations towards these reforms.
The event also featured the launch of ‘Pakistan Journal of Diversity and Inclusion’ – Pakistan’s premier international publication featuring original academic legal scholarship on thematic areas designed to promote debate and discourse around diversity, inclusion, and reforms.
It was followed by paper presentations by individual authors whose papers had been shortlisted and selected for publication in the Pakistan Journal of Diversity and Inclusion.
The Parliamentary Secretary, Federal Ministry of Law and Justice Barrister Maleeka Bukhari said that she was particularly proud to showcase the talent of Pakistani women lawyers and hoped that such endeavor would contribute to addressing the gender gap in the justice sector.
Hon’ble Justice (retd) Sheikh Azmat Saeed, who was a patron of the event, delivered the special address and introduced the jury members of the Women in Law Awards.
Her Excellency Baroness Helena Kennedy, a senior jury member, congratulated the ministry on such an unprecedented effort in Pakistan and highlighted how inspiring those young women lawyers were.
As many as 26 candidates emerged as winners out of 72 nominees in 18 categories.
Asma Hamid was declared winner in the category ‘Advocate of the Year’ while Maliha Zia Lari won the award for ‘Outstanding Comeback of the Year’ and as Gender and Diversity Champion (Sindh).
The awards also honored law students, rising stars, and gender and diversity champions from KP (Rubina Naz), Punjab (Maria Farooq), and Balochistan (Sabira Islam).
While appreciating the role and support of the Ministry, Nida Usman, founder of Women in Law Initiative Pakistan said, ‘To see female lawyers being given their due recognition and visibility at a national level has truly been a dream for which we at Women in Law have worked for all these years. This would never have been possible without the leading support of Hon’ble Federal Law Minister Dr. Muhammad Farogh Nasim and Parliamentary Secretary, Federal Ministry of Law and Justice, Barrister Maleeka Bukhari. Their dedication, commitment and role for increasing women’s representation in law through this historic public-private partnership will pave the way for a more inclusive legal profession and contribute to access to justice in more ways that we can imagine. The support from the Federal Ministry, the Australian High Commission, the British High Commission and implementing partner, Group Development Pakistan has been unflinching for which I am very grateful.’
The Federal Law Minister Barrister Dr. Muhammad Farogh Naseem congratulated the winners and delivered the closing address; reiterated his commitment to contribute to women’s empowerment for an open and inclusive society in line with Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s vision, the Constitution of Pakistan, and the country’s international obligations.