ISLAMABAD: With the government having passed the anti-rape law recently, there was now a need to implement this law to ensure women are protected in the country.
This was stressed by speakers at the 9th annual conference on Rural Women organized by the Potohar Organisation for Development Advocacy (Poda) at Lok Virsa on Wednesday. Women from around 102 districts of the country participated in the event in addition to representatives from European Union and European countries.
Anne Marchal, Charge d’ Affaires of the European Union delegation to Pakistan, said that one of the key areas in empowering girls and women was ensuring their social and economic rights, access to and control over land and other resources, are fulfilled.
“In Pakistan, ground work has already been done on this as the enabling legislative environment does exist, but further efforts, such as implementation of law of inheritance in its true spirit and providing further counseling are needed,” she said.
Talking about efforts that the EU is making in this regard, she said that they are helping through rural development and nutrition programmes in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, Sindh and soon in Federally Administered Tribal Areas.
“At last year’s PODA Conference, I announced that we were going to launch a large programme benefiting rural households in Sindh, our support being channeled through women. I am pleased to confirm that the programme is now up and running thanks to the 770,000 women getting involved,” she added.
In this regard, the EU official said that EU would spend 340 million Euros between 2014 to 2020 to support rural development projects, including 102 million Euros for education and professional development in Pakistan particularly in Sindh, Balochistan and K-P.
Furthermore, Marchal said, EU was committing its support for enhanced participation of women in Pakistan in the general and local elections.
“ It is important that rural women in Pakistan are strongly encouraged and supported to fully benefit from their constitutional and legal rights which guarantee their equality.”
Carlos Morales, the ambassador of Spain, said, “Gender equality and women participation is our key top priority. Encouraging social and political participation is one of them. Gender justice and ending violence against women is just one step but the key one. Climate change and SDGs are other key areas of our work.”
PODA Executive Director Sameena Nazir, while inaugurating the conference, said that Pakistan’s progress is incomplete without the participation of its population of women majority of whom live in rural areas. She demanded social security benefits for women farmers and implementation of pro women laws.
“The annual rural women conference is more than a meeting. It is a platform that brings together women who otherwise would not have an opportunity to meet with their fellow women citizens from other parts of Pakistan.
Other keynote speakers included Member Parliamentary Caucus, Surriya Amiruddin, Strengthening Participatory Organisation (SPO) Chief Executive Naseer Memon, writer Kishwar Naheed, Lok Virsa Executive Director Fauzia Saeed, and Poda board member Dr Zarina Salamat.
Later, they visited an arts and crafts exhibition where craftswomen displayed their work.