PESHAWAR: As Pakistan continues to face the effects of complex emergencies and natural disasters, very little importance has been given to the role of women in the process of social reconstruction.
This was highlighted by several speakers during the launch of the United Nations Women programme titled “Women Leadership in Social Reconstruction”, which is being financially supported by the Danish government.
The launching ceremony was hosted by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Social Welfare and Women’s Empowerment Department, in collaboration with the UN Women.
Addressing the participants, Danish Ambassador Jesper Moller Sorensen said, “Every time there is a disaster or conflict, it is the women who immediately come on the frontline to take care of their families, whether they are young, aged, sick or living with disabilities. They are the most affected. They need the most support.”
The Danish ambassador said that in vulnerable countries such as Pakistan, it was even more critical to understand the gender implications during and after natural disasters and crisis.
“By integrating gender concerns in the mainstream planning of peace, security and humanitarian actions, not only do we promote women leadership and participation but we also build communities and countries to become disaster resilient”, he added.
UN Women Pakistan Deputy Country Representative Sangeeta Thapa said that the programme aimed to respond directly to equality principles written in the constitution. “To us, social reconstruction process means to facilitate the reintegration of dislocated persons into their homes and villages and revitalise socio-economic activities in the region. In the context of gender, it means empowering women enough to be able to effectively participate in the decision-making process at all levels of relief and rehabilitation,” she added.
She appreciated the support of the Danish government that would give continuity to the UN Women’s work in ensuring that peace, security and humanitarian actions are shaped by the leadership and participation of women.
Special Adviser to Chief Minister on Social Welfare and Women’s Empowerment Dr Mehar Taj Roghani said that serious gaps existed in emergency preparedness and disaster risk management capacities. She appreciated the collective partnership to overcome these gaps to promote stabilisation, peace and security in the region.
Women leaders from the community shared painstaking testimonies from the field with a request for women representation, participation and leadership to be ensured in social reconstruction processes and peace initiatives in areas of complex emergencies and disasters.
The funding from the Danish government would be utilised to support the UN Women’s programme to work with the federal government and key partners in enhancing synergies so as to facilitate regional networking and partnerships; support advocacy for in-country and cross-regional programming on integrating gender concerns in peace initiatives; undertake training for trainers on gender and peacekeeping with civil armed forces, as well as strengthen capacity for gender responsive policy frameworks and action plans.