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Pakistan prioritises women’s empowerment’

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan places high priority on women’s empowerment and gender equality, and the constitution of the country affirms the equality of all citizens before law irrespective of their religion, caste or gender, said Muhammad Ziaur Rehman, the secretary of the Planning and Development Division, on Wednesday. He was speaking at the inaugural session of a three-day international conference on “gender mainstreaming in planning and development” organised at a local hotel here by the Planning and Development Division in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Delegates from Turkey, Iran, USA, Indonesia, India, Armenia, Yemen, Kyrgyzstan, Jordan and Lebanon, and representatives of federal and provincial governments, civil society, academia and media are participating in the conference. Rehman said that gender mainstreaming is a way towards achieving the ultimate aim of gender equality. “The concept essentially focuses on ensuring equal opportunities, obligations and rights for both men and women, and emphasises the need to create an environment that allows women unrestricted opportunities to realise their potential,” he added.

“Human resource development is essential for the improvement of people’s living standards, but it cannot be achieved without the participation of half of the world’s population consisting of women,’ said Rehman. The secretary said that the government had taken important steps for women’s empowerment. Women’s representation in the parliament has increased, and many are serving as ministers in the federal and provincial governments, while there are about 40,000 women representatives in local governments, he added.

“The Gender Reforms Action Plans of the provincial governments, Vision 2030, the Women’s Protection Act and the reservation of a 10 percent job quota for women in the civil services are some of the recent measures taken by the government for the empowerment of women,” said Rehman. He said that the government had also opened the doors of its armed forces to women. “This conference is a manifestation of the government’s resolve to cater to women’s concerns in all fields,” he added. The Gender Mainstreaming Project is supervised by the Planning and Development Division and supported by the UNDP as an important initiative to support the government’s efforts in gender mainstreaming.

In the second session topics, such as gendering planning and the development process for poverty alleviation, engendering planning and development for poverty alleviation in Pakistan, the impact of gender mainstreaming in rural development and poverty eradication cases of developing countries in Asia and Central Asia, women in small and medium enterprises in Pakistan, were discussed. A documentary on rural women in Sistan, Balochistan, and Iran was also presented on the occasion.

Source: Daily Times

Date:1/18/2007

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