NCSW launches Humqadam app to provide easy access to GBV response services

Myra Imran
Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Islamabad:To provide easy access to gender-based violence (GBV) response services, the National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW) with the support of Shirkat Gah Women Resource Centre, launched ‘Humqadam’ phone application on Tuesday.

The application provides easy access to services like police and law enforcement, government helpline, ministries and commission, civil society organisations, legal aid providers and psycho-social support providers besides providing information on relevant national and provincial laws and step-by-step guidance on how to respond to specific cases of GBV. Speaking on this occasion, NCSW Chairperson Nilofer Bakhtiar said that the violence against women is a harsh reality of every society and such efforts are vital to facilitate the violence victims in the age of digitalisation. She said that violence against women and girls in Pakistan remains a significant issue despite constitutional guarantees of equality and numerous legal measures aimed at protecting women's rights. Reports, both national and international, indicate minimal reduction in violence against women.

"While various laws and support systems, such as government and police helplines, are in place, many women are unaware of these resources. “The primary reason that half of the women do not seek help is due to this lack of knowledge. Even when information is available, access can be hindered by inadequate facilities such as phones or transportation.”

Chairperson said that women often do not report violence because they are unsure of whom to contact or where to go for assistance. “In times of crisis, women generally turn to their families, but this option can fail them if the violence is domestic, leaving them isolated. The ‘Humqadam’ app aims to address this gap by serving as a resource for those facing violence or those assisting victims. The app can be downloaded onto a phone and used without internet access, which is a significant advantage in areas with limited connectivity.” She said that much needs to be done to empower women against violence. She stressed for collaborative efforts to address issues that hinder women empowerment. Fareeda Shaheed, executive director, Shirkat Gah Women Resource Centre, said that the app will connect women with safe spaces, shelters, security organisation, medical aid, and provide access to gender-laws and other resources that women can use, in different parts of Pakistan. She said that app is currently available in both English and Urdu. We also have plans to add regional languages in the future.

She congratulated Balochistan government for passing the Child Marriage Act and expressed hope that another vital legislation related to establishment of mid-way homes would also be approved as promised by the former Balochistan government. She also shared the previous achievements of the app. Saman Ahsan, Portfolio Manager Ending Violence against Women, Governance and Human Rights, said that 35 per cent of women experience violence in their lifetime but she claimed that the percentage is much higher than that. MNA Human Chughtai said that the application would be helpful for judiciary in referring to different GBV related laws. She congratulated the NCSW for providing this vital tool for women.

Former Parliamentarian Mehnaz Akbar suggested creating awareness regarding the application so that maximum women can benefit from that. She also called for launching the app in universities. Prominent among other who spoke on the occasion were Sehar Kamran, MNA Shaista Khan, MNA Sabeen Ghori.