Up to one million women across Pakistan will benefit from UK support to help protect them from violence and increase their participation in politics, the economy, and decision making, the UK’s Development Secretary Justine Greening announced Thursday.
The new support follows a successful pilot from last year, which amongst other things helped thousands of women to get their CNICs and participate in mock-voting training sessions, so that they could vote in the recent elections, according to a Department for International Development (DFID) handout.
Ms Greening pledged at a meeting Wednesday with leading female members of the Punjab Provincial Assembly, including Punjab Minister for Women and Development Hamida Waheedudin, Punjab Minister for Population Welfare Zakia Shahnawaz, and Secretary of Women Development Iram Bukhari that the UK will do all it can to support Pakistan to empower women, stop violence, and harness the economic potential of half its population,
At the meeting she heard about steps being taken by the Punjab government to improve the position of women through its Punjab Women Empowerment Package and discussed how the UK can best support its ambitious goals.
Justine Greening said, “Pakistan has one of the worst ‘gender gaps’ and is the third most dangerous country in the world for women. Pakistan is missing out on the talent and productivity of half its population, holding back growth and opportunity.”
Greening further said that the government of Punjab recognises this and has made excellent progress on protecting and empowering women and girls, such as introducing laws to protect them from sexual harassment at work.
The new support funded by the UK government will help women in local communities by providing them with training on their rights and advice on how to resolve problems, as well as helping district, local and provincial government to implement existing laws which protect and empower women. The assistance will be provided through local Pakistani organisations and will operate in districts across Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkwha (K-P).
Published in The Express Tribune, July 12th, 2013.