ISLAMABAD: Women make up half of the world’s population and yet represent a staggering 70% of the world’s poor.
This was the crux of an event organised by Social Policy and Development Centre (SPDC) in collaboration with Norwegian Government titled “South Asian Conference on Women, Work and Poverty.
Speakers while highlighting the problems being faced by the women especially in developing countries said, “For the millions of women living in poverty, their lives are a litany of injustice, discrimination and obstacles that get in the way of achieving their basic needs of good health, safe childbirth, education and employment. Overcoming these inequalities and ensuring that women benefit from development requires that the needs and desires of women are not only taken into account, but be put in front and centre”.
Speaking on the occasion, Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reform, Ahsan Iqbal said that the human resource and social development is the first pillar of Pakistan Vision 2025 strategy and the government is committed to bringing women into the mainstream of development through interventions in social, economic, legal and political areas.
He informed that the Prime Minister has mandated that at least 50% of the financing of the self employment program must go to women.
The minister said, “Every country, which showed miraculous development during last few decades including China, Turkey, Singapore, Malaysia, and South Korea, have shown four pre-requisitions: (i) There was political stability and continuity of policies (ii) they had a clear and focused economic vision. (iii) Their growth agenda centered around the people’s development focusing on health, education and other social development of the people and lastly there was Peace and Security in these countries.
Ahsan said that the PML-N led federal government is committed to making Pakistan a leading fast growing economy in Asia by creating enabling environment conducive for development.
“Bringing peace and stability, not only within the country, but in the whole region so that economic growth and inclusive development can be achieved, is a priority. We need to do research for evidence based policy, but there should be a clear link with development agenda. A ‘National Research Agenda Conference’ is being organised under the HEC soon, in order to formulate a research agenda for the next decade. The purpose of the Conference is to finalise national research agenda in consultation with stakeholders to align knowledge base with the development agenda relevant to Pakistan Vision 2025 goals,” Ahsan maintained.
The conference was informed that a woman could die from haemorrhaging during childbirth, one of the most common causes of maternal mortality for anaemic or undernourished pregnant women. Of the 500,000 women who die in childbirth every year, 99% live in developing countries. In other words, in developing countries, a girl or a woman dies every minute in giving birth.
Professor Dr Khalida Ghaus, Managing Director SPDC, in her address said that as far as the job opportunities are concerned at working age, a woman does not have the same job opportunities and receives less pay for the same work. Women work two-thirds of the world’s working hours, produce half of the world’s food, but earn only 10% of the world’s income and own less than one percent of the world’s property.
She added that on average, women earn half of what men earn. Informal employment is a greater source of employment for women than for men. While it can offer life-changing opportunities to earn money, the low pay and lack of social protection makes women vulnerable and open to exploitation. Over her lifetime, she may suffer unimaginable violence and neglect, often in silence. Three million women die each year because of gender-based violence, and four million girls and women a year are sold into prostitution. One woman in five is a victim of rape or attempted rape during her lifetime. Gender-based violence takes more of a toll on women’s health than that of traffic accidents and malaria combined.