Speakers at a seminar stressed gender equality, economic development and creating awareness about the role of active women participation in all spheres of life for the development of the country.
Speaking at the seminar on “economic growth through women empowerment, challenges and opportunities”, jointly organised by Multan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) USAID- Punjab Youth Workforce Development Project, Multan Division Commissioner Imran Sikandar Baloch said economic development could not be achieved until we make our women economically independent. “We will be unable to reduce the huge gender gap without spreading awareness about the role of women and their participation in all spheres of life,” he said.
The commissioner said the issue of gender equality was not just the responsibility of the government but the private sector and families should also play their role in bringing the change. “Discrimination also limits women’s choices and freedom. As per Article 25 (2) of the Constitution, women have equal rights.”
He also pointed out that the government has taken a number of steps for the protection and empowerment of women and to curb violence against them. He said the women’s role could not be developed because of various reasons including restricted mobility, access to education, access to health facilities, no role in decision-making and high rate of violence etc.
Chief of Party USAID-PYWD Qaiser Nadeem threw light on the purpose of celebrating the International Women Day and said it was a display of social, economic, cultural and political responsibilities and achievements of women. He explained the USAID-PYWD project which, he said, was supporting the women by providing benefits to more than 4,500 women and their families. The project's objective was to enhance job creation and entrepreneurship opportunities by imparting skill and brokering employment for youth between the age of 16 to 19 years in growth oriented sectors in Multan, Lodhran, Muzaffargarh and Bahawalpur districts of South Punjab.
“The project,” he said, “is working to achieve at least 35% female inclusion out of total 10,000 marginalised youth through skill development, equal participation in decision-making, self-employment and micro-finance services for impoverished women in focus areas of the region.”
Multan Chamber President Muhammad Sarfraz said the development of women in social, economic, education, political and legal sectors has always been a difficult task in an underdeveloped country such as Pakistan and backward area like South Punjab. “Therefore, our policymakers should specifically make the policies on women’s empowerment at the national level on health, education, economic opportunities, gender-based violence and political participation,” he said.
He said denying women opportunities to realise their potential was a waste of human capital and bar to economic progress. “Women have played a key role in the creation of Pakistan. They have the potential and should be treated equally and fairly. It is fair to say that women are undoubtedly the foundation of the basic unit of society ie the family,” he said. “Even in traditional roles, they demonstrate great innovation, skill, intelligence, hard work and commitment. If we are able to harness these attributes effectively, Pakistan’s growth will be more inclusive and equitable.”
Representatives from MCCI, TEVTA, PVTC, NGOs, PYWD beneficiaries, government officials and media persons attended the event.
Later, the guests visited the stalls of Fashion designing, blue pottery, clay-pots, camel skin work and handmade jewellery.
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