LAHORE: Punjab Chief Minister Strategic Reforms Unit Director-General, Mr Salman Sufi, has been selected as an honoree for the Voice of Solidarity Award 2017 which is to be presented by Vital Voices Global Partnership, an organization under the chairmanship of Hillary Clinton on December 4 at the IAC HQ, New York City.
The award honours men who have fought and struggled to eliminate violence against women and girls. The DG SRU will join the ranks of former US VP Joe Biden and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in the list of men who are honoured.
The voice of solidarity award is a presentation to remarkable men who have shown courage and compassion in advocating on behalf of women and girls around the world.
The list of men Mr Salman Sufi has joined includes prominent personalities such as Joe Biden, Antonio Guterres, renowned English actor Sir Patrick Stewart and United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid bin Ra’ad al-Hussein. Previous honorees include MenEngage co-founder Gary Barker, a global alliance of more than 400 NGOs and UN agencies working to engage men and boys in gender equality and human rights activist and National Security Council former director for African affairs, John Prendergast.
Mr Salman Sufi’s dedicated efforts and significant contributions to the cause of women’s empowerment in Punjab have earned him the status of a male champion for the cause.
He played an instrumental role in the drafting and passage of the Punjab Protection of Women Against Violence Act 2016 that not only criminalized all forms of violence against women but also enabled the implementation of South Asia’s first Violence Against Women Center (VAWC) constructed in Multan, Pakistan.
This Center is a one-stop model for women survivors of violence with police, prosecution, medico-legal and counselling services all housed under one roof. He also serves additional charge for Punjab Women Protection Authority Director General which is a corporate structure charged with replicating VAWCs across Punjab. He has also advocated for female mobility and independence by introducing the women-on-wheels project that provides women with free motorbike training.
Pakistan taking the lead on GBV may be considered a rare sight from a global perspective where the country ranks as the fourth worst country for women in the world.
However, Mr Sufi has clearly put forth a powerful counter-narrative on efforts being made in Pakistan to fight gender-based violence. It is indeed a great feat for the country, that Mr Sufi, as an advocate for women’s rights is being honored with the distinguished voice of solidarity award.