LAHORE: Civil society organisations urged for implementation of available laws to ensure the protection of women, children and other marginalised groups. This was urged during a seminar arranged by Child Advocacy Network Pakistan, Search For Justice and Awaz Foundation, titled Legislative Development for Protection of Women, Children & Transgender, held at local hotel. Awaz Foundation Chief Executive Officer Ziaur Rahman shared a detailed overview of legislation enacted during the past 10 years to protect the rights of women, children, persons with disabilities and transgender. He particularly highlighted the establishment of National Commission on the Status of Women and The National Commission for Human Rights as an important landmark to move towards establishing independent mechanism to supervise the human rights situation in country. He also highlighted the incorporation of Article 25-A in the Constitution of Pakistan under which free and compulsory education was recognised as basic right of every child between the ages of five to 16 years. He said that there is still need in Punjab to frame the rules of The Punjab Free & Compulsory Education Act 2014 to ensure its effective implementation. He appreciated the last Punjab Assembly for passing the Punjab Protection of Women against Violence Act 2016 besides a number of challenges and urged new Punjab government to cover the whole province of Punjab by notifying this particular law. Awaz Foundation CEO Ziaur Rahman also shared an analysis of commitments made by leading political parties to protect the rights of women, children and other marginalised groups. Another key speaker, Search For Justice Executive Director Iftikhar Mubarik speaking on the occasion appreciated the previous government for passing The Criminal Law Act 2016 and The National Commission on the Rights of Children Act 2017. He urged the federal government to expedite the process for establishment of this commission which will serve as an oversight body to monitor child rights situation in Pakistan. Iftikhar Mubarik particularly highlighted the need for formulation of a Child Protection Policy followed by a concrete and realistic action plan to end all forms of violence against children. He particularly highlighted the need for ensuring provision of adequate financial and human resources to implement laws enacted by Punjab Provincial Assembly, in true letter and spirit. Sadia Sohail Rana of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf shared that the Punjab government is committed to protect the rights of marginalised segments of society and soon will announce a roadmap to go ahead in this regard. She highlighted the need for strategic coordination between parliamentarians and civil society to improve the state of children and women rights in Punjab. Members of Punjab Provincial Assembly from different political parties assured their full commitment and support to work for legislation and all other possible measures which includes increase in minimum age of marriage for girls from 16 to 18 years, to work for protection of transgender community, increase in resources for secondary education for all children especially girls, formulation of Child Protection Policy as well as for establishment of comprehensive child protection system. Published in Daily Times, September 12th 2018.