An art exhibition highlighting the role of female leaders and role models was organised to raise awareness of gender equality in Pakistan’s border management agencies. The exhibition jointly organised by the Embassy of the Czech Republic and the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD), and funded by the European Union, was attended by over 50 representatives from national border authorities, civil society and the international community. The exhibition, titled “Czech and Pakistani Heroines” was jointly developed by the Czech Embassy and National College of Arts, and features artists from the University of West Bohemia and the NCA. Each artwork focuses on a female role model from the Czech Republic or Pakistan and the role they have played in their societies.
Czech Ambassador Tomáš Smetánka opened the exhibition, acknowledged Pakistan’s border management agencies together with ICMPD for their focus on issues related to gender in their recent cooperation. He noted that by displaying the collection of women’s portraits, the Embassy wishes to complement the topic of workshops held by ICMPD and pay tribute to some of the audacious, generous, independent, inspiring and untiring women from our past and present. Jan Muhammad, FIA Additional Director General for Headquarters, thanked the FIA’s international partners for highlighting the action that the FIA and other border management agencies are taking to improve gender mainstreaming. He noted that the FIA is already pursuing a number of recommended activities in this area, but that the FIA recognise it is a long-term process and they continue to focus on increasing awareness of gender issues throughout all levels of the organisation.
Sedef Dearing, ICMPD’s Head of the Silk Routes Region, highlighted the positive role gender mainstreaming can play in border management and the progress already achieved by Pakistan’s border agencies. She noted that gender equality is a global, whole-of-society mission, and that international cooperation through initiatives such as the exhibition are integral for achieving this.
The importance of gender mainstreaming is increasingly recognised in both the internal and external activities of border agencies such as the Federal Investigation Agency, Anti-Narcotics Force and Pakistan Customs. Examples of gender mainstreaming in this context include considering the needs of both male and female travellers and officials at border crossings in terms of infrastructure and facilities, and having specially trained officers to deal with gender based violence and trafficking in human beings within migration flows. Internally, it means ensuring equal representation and treatment of male and female officers within border services in terms of career opportunities, well-being, and safety, among many other areas. Positive trends, including the recruitment and career growth of female officers within border management agencies in recent years illustrate that the benefits of gender equality are gradually being recognised. However, further steps are possible, such as improving the understanding as to how more female staff can improve the functioning of national border management agencies, as well as how they can make them more representative of the societies they serve, thus raising public trust in the institutions.