ISLAMABAD: US Ambassador Cameron Munter and his wife, Dr Marilyn Wyatt, together with the Aurat Foundation, on Sunday launched the Pakistan Gender Coalition.
The Pakistan Gender Coalition is a network of Pakistani civil society organizations, academic and research institutions, and media organizations working together to promote gender equity in Pakistan.
Addressing the participants of the event, Munter said, “Through this coalition, a new force for positive change in Pakistan will be created. While advocacy for women’s rights and equal opportunities is a challenging task, Pakistan will have strong support of the US government and the American people.”
Beneficiaries and representatives of more than 70 civil society organizations, working on gender issues with funding from the USAID Gender Equity Programme, attended the event.
The participants also included a number of government officials, such as Sindh Minister for Women Development Tauqeer Fatima Bhutto, Balochistan Minister for Women Development Ghazala Gola, AJK Minister for Women Development Farzana Yaqub and Adviser to the Chief Minister of Punjab Zakia Shahnawaz Khan Niazi.
At the launch, the participants reviewed the nationwide baseline study on gender equity issues, conducted with US funding by the Applied Economics Research Centre (AERC), Karachi University, and AASA Consulting.
The study analyzed the perceptions of Pakistani women and men about the prevalent household practices and the legal system. According to the study, a majority of Pakistanis strongly opposed violence against women.
This $40 million, five-year programme aims to expand women’s access to justice and human rights, increase women’s knowledge of their rights and opportunities to exercise those rights, combat gender-based violence, and strengthen the capacity of Pakistani organizations that advocate gender equality.
As of July 2012, the programme has provided 95 grants valued at $4.3 million to support women in crisis, the expansion of legal aid for women, research on gender-based violence, and the promotion of women’s rights.