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Women’s role imperative for stability of Pakistan, says USAID official

Moazam Baig

LAHORE: Carla Koppell, special assistant to the USAID administrator and director of gender equity programme, was on a one-day visit to the provincial metropolis. Daily Times captured the opportunity and talked to her about various issues ranging from USAID funding in Pakistan to its special focus on women’s empowerment.

Carla Koppell had directed the Institute for Inclusive Security and the Washington, DC office of Hunt Alternatives Fund from 2006 to April 2011. In that role, she worked extensively with women and civil society leaders from conflict areas worldwide, including the Middle East, Iraq, Sudan, and Uganda. From 2002 to 2006, she also served in a variety of other roles for Inclusive Security.

In Lahore, Koppell met with a range of people working on gender and women’s empowerment to find out the gaps in gender initiatives and how best to address those issues and improve USAID programmes for the benefit of the people of Pakistan. She said inclusion of women across society was imperative for the growth and stability of Pakistan. She said USAID integrated a concern for gender equality into all of its programmes to help build a better life for Pakistani women. “Our objectives include increasing women’s participation in the labour force, expanding girls’ access to quality basic education, improving maternal and child health, and promoting women’s rights in political, economic and social realms,” she said. She added, “The US government is committed to helping Pakistan in removing any constraints on women’s potential. Women’s participation in the economic and social sphere will have transformational impact on Pakistan’s economy and society. To achieve this, USAID supports legal rights for women, helps them gain access to public services and jobs, builds their capacity, and encourages their inclusion in public life. USAID’s programmes in Pakistan aim to ensure a better future for Pakistani women, their families and communities.”

Koppell said USAID’s health programmes provided women with improved healthcare, especially in the areas of maternal, newborn, and child health, family planning, and infectious disease control.

Mentioning a specific programme, which proved a success at the national level, she said the Family Advance for Life and Health programme (FALAH) raised awareness about how birth spacing affects maternal and child health. FALAH offered training to community workers and health care providers and distributed kits of essential supplies to lady health workers in flood-affected areas. She said USAID was “trying to capture how you look at advances in the status of women as indicative of a more inclusive approach to agricultural sector growth”. It was also focusing on areas like household decision-making, women’s access to leadership role in the community, and how women were allocating their time as being critical components of an index that in the aggregate would show that the country was making progress in terms of sector growth, she added.

Daily Times

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