The increase number of cases of unregistered births of girls and members of marginalised segments of society has experts alarmed, with speakers at a conference about rural women urging the government to use technology to devise effective mechanisms for ensure timely and accurate birth registrations.
The conference on Sunday was organised by the Potohar Organization for Development Advocacy (PODA) on the occasion of the internationally observed rural women’s day on October 15.
It honours The UN General Assembly resolution for member states recognise the significance of the role played by rural women by acknowledging their contributions in enhancing agricultural and rural development, improving food security and ending poverty.
The theme of the ongoing conference this year was ‘Stop Child Marriages for Sustainable Development, Climate and Democracy’. Sameena Nazir, PODA’s country director, said the lack of official identity (ID) deprives girls of their fundamental human rights including the right to legal identity, citizenship, education, marriage, reproductive health, inheritance, government assistance, services and lead a dignified life.
“These are the rights enshrined in the Constitution of Pakistan.” She pointed out that birth registration help decreasing the risks of child marriage, child labour and children being treated as adults in the criminal justice system.
“This very basic human right will provide a strong foundation for achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls,” she said. “Gender equality is goal five of sustainable development goals (SDGs) which is translated into all other SDGs.”
Raina Roy, representing the transgender community, urged government institutions to ensure hundred per cent birth registrations. “It should not be left to the will of the families and others.” The discussions in the conference focused on the rights of the girl child and registration issues linked with an alarming neglect to register the birth of girl children.
One speaker cited a survey, according to which 42 per cent of children under the age of five were not registered. The birth registration rate was said to be even lower in the newlymerged districts of the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).
According to Unicef, it was as low as 1 per cent back in 2017. The speakers pointed out that as signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the government had committed to providing children their basic rights to survival, development, protection and participation.
The three-day conference will end on October 17 (Tuesday). The closing ceremony would include an award ceremony to honour the achievements of rural women from over 150 districts across the country.