By: MANSOOR MALIK
LAHORE: In line with a ‘Call to Action’ campaign included in the first report of the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel for Women’s Economic Empowerment, the Punjab government has begun consolidating its initiatives and endeavours regarding various facets of women-related activities for showcasing these at international fora.
The Punjab government has set up a 16-member Task force on Women Empowerment to fast-forward the agenda including working closely with the UN Women to create policy environment for informal workers.
The task force headed by Fiza Farhan, a member of the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment, recently held a maiden meeting calling for consolidating women-related initiatives and social packages.
The task force comprises administrative secretaries of women development, school education, P&D, population welfare, labour, finance, Social Welfare and Baitul Maal, primary and secondary healthcare departments besides other government, public and civil society representatives.
Punjab Women Development Department Secretary Bushra Aman, who is also secretary to the task force, says its maiden meeting discussed the women empowerment issues and resolved to consolidate the Punjab government’s initiatives to link these with the world fora in a holistic manner. She said the task force would facilitate the coordination and collation of inter-agency Women Empowerment Initiatives with the framework of the Pakistan Women Entrepreneurship Programme (PWEP), the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and other international commitments.
It will establish linkages with broader national and international systems and partners. Since Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif had announced the Punjab Women Empowerment package on the International Women’s Day in 2012 offering many initiatives including enhancing quota for women in public-sector employment from five per cent to 15pc, the women development department has asked all administrative secretaries, commissioners and district coordination officers to give detailed information about the women employees in their respective administrative control against the quota.
Ms Aman says the department is also following up all women-related initiatives and social packages given across the province.
The “Call to Action” campaign emphasises the need for increased partnerships and commitments to accelerate progress under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The campaign findings call on different stakeholders to promote women’s leadership in driving sustainable and inclusive, environmentally sensitive economic growth.
It recommends key actions by governments, the private sector, the United Nations and multilateral organisations as well as the civil society.
In bringing this global initiative to Pakistan, Ms Farhan in partnership with the Punjab government and the UN Women Pakistan launched the campaign engaging key players to promote economic, social, legal and political empowerment for women in both rural and urban settings.
Significant achievements in Punjab towards women empowerment include the strengthening of gender responsive infrastructure in the public sector through a package led by the Women Development Department, the “Punjab Gender Parity Report” and the allocation of Rs9.2 billion to implement the package within Punjab.
The task force acknowledged that the Punjab government was making strides towards strengthening the policy environment for women informal workers in collaboration with the UN Women Pakistan and a survey is currently under way to enumerate women home-based workers to support the adoption and implementation of the relevant policy and legislation.
The task force was informed that the UN Women had also recently supported 18 private companies to sign the Women’s Empowerment Principles in Punjab and Sindh encouraging them to commit themselves to gender responsive practices in their businesses.