Fauzia Viqar, a prominent advocate for women's rights in Pakistan, was honoured with distinction at the inaugural CAREC Award for Advancing Gender Equality, hosted in Tbilisi, Georgia. This pioneering event, convened on 29 November, brought together eminent figures and entities representing the ten member nations of the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Program.
Viqar, recognised for her unwavering commitment to championing women's rights and empowerment, stood among the distinguished recipients at the 22nd CAREC Ministerial Conference. Her contributions were celebrated alongside ten other awardees for their outstanding endeavours in advancing gender equality across diverse sectors.
During her tenure as the inaugural chairperson of the Punjab Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW) from 2014 to 2019, Viqar implemented a gender management information system, released annual reports on gender parity and instituted a helpline for women to report incidents of abuse.
In March 2023, she assumed the role of the Federal Ombudsperson for Protection against Harassment at the Workplace.
Among the other awardees were entities such as Gender Hub Azerbaijan, acknowledged for their advocacy and capacity-building in women's rights; the Women’s Information Centre in Georgia, recognised for their steadfast efforts in promoting gender equality; and Waipula Village in Yunnan, China, acclaimed for its women-led eco-tourism initiative.
Additionally, JSC Housing Construction Savings Bank (Otbasy Bank) in Kazakhstan received recognition for its successful Umai mortgage program, benefiting women by providing access to affordable housing. The National Federation of Female Communities of Kyrgyzstan was acknowledged for its efforts in combating gender-based violence, particularly addressing issues like child marriage and bride kidnapping.
The CAREC Gender Awards also spotlighted the contributions of entities such as Mongolia’s National Centre Against Violence, the Central Council of the Women’s Union of Turkmenistan and the “Nemolchi” Media Project from Uzbekistan, all acknowledged for their significant roles in promoting women’s rights and reshaping societal attitudes towards violence against women.
Moreover, Wonder Women, an international network operating across Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan, received recognition in the regional category. Manzura Asadova from Tajikistan, an activist supporting women and girls in vulnerable rural areas, was also honoured during the ceremony.
These awardees were selected by a panel of jurors from a pool of over 200 candidates and have now been designated as CAREC Gender Champions of 2023.