ISLAMABAD:The United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) has committed six million pounds to fund the Gender Support Programme (GSP) of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). UNDP country director Haoliang Xu and head of DFID Pakistan Dr Yusaf Samiullah signed the agreement, here Friday. Praising the huge donation of about Rs 11 billion, Xu said the GSP would focus on institutional strengthening, political participation and socio-economic reforms, which UNDP feels are very important to achieve women empowerment. Talking to the Business Recorder, Dr Yusuf said that the funding is part of the three-year 236 million pounds assistance extended to various organisations working to improve the life of poor people in Pakistan from 2005-08, and fighting against polio, Aids, illiteracy etc. Of the six million pounds, he said, two million pounds would be exclusively for eradicating violence against women and rest for activities pertaining to end gender inequality.
Explaining the distribution of four million pounds, he said that this would be spent on ongoing and new projects to increase women’s socio-economic status, and increase women’s participation in politics. Further elaborating the use of two million-pounds, he said, this would be used for setting up a gender-related Justice and Protection Fund, specifically supporting joint government and civil society efforts to tackle cases of violence against women. There is a need of raising awareness among men, women and officials who have the responsibility to respond to incidents of violence, strengthening community support and referral systems for women who have suffered violence, and providing financial support to them. “We are delighted to support this essential work being carried out by UNDP. The status of women in Pakistan is a serious challenge to poverty reduction and we are particularly pleased to throw our weight behind efforts to tackle the tragic issue of violence against women, Dr Yusuf said.”
In his welcome address Haoliang Xu said, “Violence against women has a high social and economic cost for society. It constitutes a major loss of productive labour in the economy, limits their participation in the development process and reduces their capacity to access resources and services. Therefore, it is pertinent that all means are taken to remove this menace from the society today.” Regarding transparent use of funds, he said UNDP would be working closely with the government and monitor all activities from time to time. Haoliang said Norway donated $3 million, Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) $1.5 million and Swiss Agency for Development and Corporation (SDC) $1.5 million for the gender cause. The good thing about these donations is that they are not earmarked, except for CIDA, which has exclusively donated for gender mainstreaming, he said.