ISLAMABAD: With four out of every 10 women in Pakistan living in poverty, there is an opportunity to bring about change by economically and socially empowering women.
“When women are politically empowered, they can help create an enabling environment for their increased economic participation,” said Canadian High Commissioner Perry Calderwood at the Women’s Empowerment Forum on Thursday.
The forum brought together a diverse range of women and men who addressed the major challenges to women’s social, political, and economic participation and empowerment in the country, such as the impact of harmful cultural practices, biased social attitudes, non-gender responsive police and judiciary, and religious extremism and intolerance.
The participants, which included development professionals, rural women, the private sector, and government representatives, discussed themes such as the enforcement of progressive legislation, their experience and views on measures needed to support women’s social and economic mobility, and promoting women’s engagement in decision-making.
This year, the scope of the forum had been expanded to address women’s empowerment and women’s rights in all aspects - political, economic, social, and humanitarian. The forum looked at the underlying social and cultural factors that constrain women’s ability to be equal and active participants in Pakistan’s social, economic and political arena.
“When women are politically empowered, they can help create an enabling environment for their increased economic participation,” said Calderwood.
“When women are empowered economically, their family and community benefits. Similarly, by promoting women’s rights, all marginalised groups stand to benefit.”
He added that a society which upholds women’s rights will also respect the rights of religious minorities; the rights of children – especially those victims of exploitation and trafficking and the rights of LGBT people.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 24th, 2017.
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