At the CAREC Awards, Fauzia Viqar was recognized as an advocate for women’s rights.

Fauzia Viqar, a prominent Pakistani human rights activist with a focus on women’s rights, was honoured at the inaugural CAREC Award for Advancing Gender Equality held in Tbilisi, Georgia.

The ceremony, a landmark event on Thursday, brought together remarkable individuals and organizations from ten member countries of the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Program.

Viqar, recognised for her advocacy for women’s rights and empowerment, stood among the distinguished awardees at the 22nd CAREC Ministerial Conference. Her achievements and commitment were acknowledged alongside ten other honourees for their outstanding contributions to promoting gender equality across diverse sectors.

While serving as the first chairperson of the Punjab Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW) from 2014 to 2019, Viqar spearheaded a gender management information system, published annual reports on gender parity, and launched a helpline enabling women to report incidents of abuse.

In March 2023, she was appointed as the Federal Ombudsperson for Protection against Harassment at Workplace.

The CAREC Awards ceremony not only celebrated Viqar’s outstanding achievements but also highlighted the urgent need to continue championing gender equality. The event emphasized collective efforts to create a more inclusive, equitable, and just society.

Other notable awardees of the CAREC Gender Awards include Gender Hub Azerbaijan for advocacy and capacity-building in women’s rights, the Women’s Information Center for consistent championing of gender equality in Georgia, and Waipula Village in Yunnan, China, acknowledged for its women-led eco-tourism initiative.

JSC Housing Construction Savings Bank (Otbasy Bank) in Kazakhstan was honoured for its successful Umai mortgage program benefiting women, providing women with access to affordable housing, while the National Federation of Female Communities of Kyrgyzstan was recognised for combating gender-based violence, focusing on issues such as child marriage and bride kidnapping.

Mongolia’s National Center Against Violence was commended for its contribution to establishing a comprehensive protection system for victims of violence; the Central Council of the Women’s Union of Turkmenistan received recognition for uniting over five thousand grassroots organizations with more than 880,000 women across the country; and “Nemolchi” Media Project from Uzbekistan were lauded for their impactful contribution in promoting women’s rights and reshaping public attitudes about violence against women.

Wonder Women, an international network operating in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan, received the regional category award. Manzura Asadova from Tajikistan, an activist supporting women and girls in vulnerable rural areas, was also honoured at the ceremony.

The awardees, carefully selected from over 200 candidates by a distinguished panel of jurors, are now declared as CAREC Gender Champions of 2023. This recognition grants them access to engage in various CAREC-organized gender events, providing networking opportunities and facilitating peer-to-peer exchange of best practices. Additionally, they will benefit from CAREC leadership coaching and mentorship programs.

The CAREC Award for Advancing Gender Equality stands as a pivotal initiative within the broader CAREC Program, launched in 2001. This program signifies a committed partnership of countries and development partners working collaboratively to foster development through regional cooperation in Central and West Asia.

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