LAHORE: Punjab Minister for Finance Dr Ayesha Ghous Pasha has said a political commitment for gender equality and a compatible legal framework are the basic conditions for development of a successful gender main streaming.
A roundtable meeting was convened by Punjab Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW) and the Ministry of Environment Protection under the chairmanship of Dr Ayesha Ghous Pasha. The meeting was held at the Civil Secretariat and attended by Dr Brigitta Blaha, Austrian Ambassador to Pakistan, Ms Margaret Adamson, High Commissioner of Australia, Jamshed Kazi, Country Director, UN Women in Pakistan, US Consul General, Ms Elizabeth Kennedy Trudeau, and representatives of the British High Commission. Ministers for Population Welfare and Finance, Members of Provincial Assembly, representatives of provincial departments, and other foreign dignitaries were in attendance.
Speaking at the event, Dr Ayesha Ghous Pasha said since 2012, Punjab government has taken several steps to improve the status of women, educate girls, empower them economically and provide redress to them in case of violence. These concrete steps include legislations like Punjab protection against harassment of women at the work place, Punjab Land Revenue (Amendment) Act, Punjab Fair Representation of women Act, Punjab Status of women Act, Punjab Protection of women against violence Act, Punjab women Protection Authority Act. To reduce the incidence of early age or Child marriage in Punjab, the Punjab assembly passed the Punjab Marriage restraint (Amendment) Act, she added.
Speaking at the meeting, Ms Fauzia Viqar, Chairperson PCSW, acknowledged that, while the government had taken several initiatives for socio-economic well-being of women, more concrete measures continue to be the need of the hour. She stated that it is only with women’s full inclusion that society in general, will progress and collectively move towards sustainable and inclusive social development agenda. Chairperson, Child Protection and Welfare Bureau, Secretary Women Development Department, Secretary Environment Protection Department, Secretary Population Welfare Department, and Chairperson PCSW presented key facts and figures regarding women and children in Punjab across a number of thematic areas, including demographics, governance, education, health, economic participation and violence. At the Meeting, Chairperson PCSW stated that without harnessing the potential and capabilities of women, who represent 49pc of the population of Punjab, the vision of sustainable socio-economic development cannot be realized. Minister for Population Welfare urged representatives of provincial departments present, to continue their tireless efforts to improve the situation of women and children, given that currently, life expectancy of women is at 67.2 years, literacy rate at 52pc and Labour Force Participation Rate at 27.8pc.
Minister for Finance appreciated the lengths women in Pakistan have gone to, despite being faced with difficult social and economic circumstances. Ms Margaret Adamson, High Commissioner of Australia, stated that there is a dire need to work towards developing the human capital of women and increasing their access to economic opportunities and resources.
Jamshed Qazi, Country Director for UN Women in Pakistan, showcased various initiatives taken by UN Women, and expressed his eagerness to collaborate with the government to improve health, political and economic participation, and education of women and children.
The meeting provided an unprecedented opportunity to exhibit the solidarity of provincial and national governments, with the international community, in promoting women empowerment and pursuing effective ways to safeguard the rights of children. All those present endorsed the need of collaborative action to devise an effective mechanism for the purpose of safeguarding the rights of vulnerable and marginalized groups of the society, and ensuring provision of adequate opportunities for their growth and advancement.