Rights of transgender people voiced by United Nations and High Commission of Canada

For the first time in Pakistan, the rights of transgender people were raised from the platform of United Nations on the eve of Human Rights Day. The day-long event, jointly organized by the UN Information Centre and the High Commission of Canada, brought together transgender activists, government representatives, parliamentarians, diplomats and UN experts.

The event featured two panel discussions. The first panel focused on education and economic empowerment for the transgender community. Speaking in the panel, trans community representative Maya Zaman said, “Education is the only way forward to enhance the potential of the community and have their valuable contribution to the economy.”

The second panel revolved around healthcare and protection. Another transgender representative, Anaya Malik said that usually family members are the first ones to abandon transgender people, leaving them vulnerable and unprotected. “The families need to be sensitized so that they accept their children’s identity.”

Speaking on the occasion the High Commissioner of Canada Perry Calderwood said, “I am pleased that we can contribute to the dialogue about transgender rights and empowerment so that transgender Pakistanis can fully participate in this vibrant society.”

Jean-Francois Cautain, Ambassador of the European Union, Neil Buhne, Resident Coordinator of the UN, Vibeke Jensen, Country Director UNESCO, Mamadou Sahko, Country Director UNAIDS, Vittorio Cammarota, Director UN Information Centre, corporate sector and transgender community representatives and activists from Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Haripur, Lahore and Peshawar participated in the event.

The Director of United Nations Information Centre Vittorio Cammarota said, like the rest of the world, transgender people in Pakistan face alarmingly high levels of discrimination and stigma, as well as violence, unemployment and poverty. “The aim of this event is to foster a debate on human rights issues that trans people face, and the priority actions required to secure trans people’s right to dignity, education, equality, health and security,” he added.

The event was followed by the screening of documentary ‘Kumu Hina,’ which features the real story of Hina Wong-Kalu, a native Hawaiian transgender.