Championing Justice for All: European Union Empowers Over 150 Women Lawyers at UNDP Pakistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Bar Council’s Women Lawyers Conference in Peshawar

Peshawar, (TW) __Under the European Union (EU) funded ‘Deliver Justice Project’, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) partnered with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Bar Council to organize Khyber Paktunkhwa’s fourth Women Lawyers Conference in Peshawar. The conference brought over 150 women lawyers from across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, including merged districts, to share and learn from each other’s professional journeys and empower one another.

The Conference received an overwhelming response from the women lawyers community in the province. These women lawyers gathered to celebrate their achievements, highlight barriers, and recommend solutions for a shift to a justice sector that responds well to the needs of women and other vulnerable groups in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The conference featured panel discussions and a design thinking group session with broad participation. The conference used the design thinking methodology to develop ideas to make the justice sector in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa more accessible and safer for women and marginalized individuals, may they be lawyers or litigants.

The Conference was held following a successful Women Lawyers Conference in Quetta in May 2024 as part of a series of events organized by UNDP Pakistan and provincial Bar Councils to celebrate the achievements and promote the key role being played by women lawyers in improving access to justice in Pakistan, under the  EU funded ‘Deliver Justice Project’.

H.E. Dr Riina Kionka, EU Ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, in the opening remarks, underlined, “Creating a gender-responsive working environment, as well as laws, policies, and frameworks, is not the only right thing to do, but it is also the way to ensure effective access to justice because more women lawyers mean that women and other vulnerable groups with a safe and effective referral pathway to the formal justice sector.” She also appreciated the tireless efforts of the Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, including leadership from the judiciary, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Bar Council, and UNDP in making Khyber Pakhtunkhwa a safer and more just place for all who live there.

Ms Shandana Gulzar, Member of the National Assembly, Pakistan, and Ms Van Nguyen, Officer in Charge, UNDP Pakistan attended the conference as chief guests and H.E. Dr Riina Kionka, EU Ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan welcomed the women lawyers to the conference in a recorded message.

In her address, Ms Shandana Gulzar emphasized the importance of such avenues in uplifting not just women lawyers but also vulnerable communities often under-represented in the justice sector. “Now, more than ever, we need platforms like Women Lawyers Conference to start meaningful conversations around tolerance, peace, and equal justice, especially for the marginalized individuals in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. We congratulate the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Bar Council, the European Union, and UNDP Pakistan on gathering such an impressive number of women lawyers from all across the province, especially the merged districts, and giving them a platform to raise their voices.”

In her closing remarks, Van Nguyen, Officer in Charge, UNDP Pakistan, highlighted, “Women lawyers in this region, much like in many other places, face a myriad of socio-cultural, systemic, financial, and professional barriers. To improve this situation, at UNDP, we are committed to enhancing their capabilities and providing opportunities to strengthen their agency – an essential condition for delivering inclusive justice in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and merged districts.” She thanked the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Bar Council for supporting the ‘Deliver Justice Project’ and the EU for their longstanding partnership, which has been crucial in improving access to justice for all, particularly women and marginalized groups in Pakistan.

UNDP is working with the Government of Pakistan, civil society, national partners, and the people of Pakistan for stronger and more accountable governance mechanisms. The Rule of Law Programme is one of UNDP Pakistan’s flagship governance programmes that is implementing a range of interventions to strengthen people-centered security and justice sector governance in Pakistan.

The ‘Deliver Justice Project’ aims to support reform processes to ensure the delivery of people-centered justice, enhance access to justice for all, particularly women and marginalized groups, and improve service delivery of the security sector in line with constitutional safeguards and international standards. Implemented in Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and the Merged Districts, the programme is funded by the European Union and jointly implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UN Women and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

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