Bedari organized an event titled “A Dialogue with Parliamentarians of Punjab for Legislation to Restrain Child Marriages” at Lahore on 12th January 2017. The technical and financial support was provided by International Child Development Initiative (ICDI) under Her Choice – Building Child Marriage Free Communities and Commonwealth of Learning under Girls Inspire Project.
Ms. Zakia Shahnawaz Minister Population Welfare Punjab presided over the event whereas other keynote speakers were from academia (University of the Punjab, Virtual University), Schools Education Department, Provincial Ombudsman Punjab Office, Local Government Department, Members Punjab Bar Council, Civil Society Organizations, Media and Children. The audience included civil society activists, students, and victims of early marriages, lawyers, teachers, political workers, parents, media personnel, officials and volunteers.
Academicians emphasized the need for legislation on the issue of child marriages by explaining the social, cultural, political, economic, religious, customary and familial roots and reasons behind acceptance of Early Marriages phenomenon at communities. Bar Council members shared their findings and recommendations on the lacuna and grey areas in concerned legislative provisions; governmental officials shared the roles and responsibilities of their respective departments and extended their possible support for the cause; Civil Society representatives raised their voice for an early review of the legislation to make it more effective and comprehensive and also emphasized for establishment of effective mechanisms for immediate and ultimate redressal of the early marriage cases.
Parliamentarians started with the government’s commitment regarding provision of rights, welfare, protection, participation and a representative reflect of people in legislation and policies. Further, they appreciated the efforts of Bedari in organizing such a productive dialogue and also assured their commitment and support for zero prevalence of early marriages in Pakistan. The chair summed up the dialogue to extend her utmost support and availability to voice for and to table the recommendations at the floor of house and asked Civil Society to liaise with the parliamentarians more effectively.