ISLAMADB: The Ministry of Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives on Tuesday launched the National Gender Policy Framework aimed at providing a structured mechanism with defined objectives for improving the lives of women and providing them with equal opportunities to excel in a professional sphere.
According to the officials, the framework has been put in place in pursuance of a strong commitment to ensuring equal rights for women across the country on the occasion of International Women’s Day.
Speaking at the launch, Federal Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar said the new framework was essential to provide equal opportunities to all segments of society, particularly women, to prosper and progress. “This framework converts that honest intent into an integrated actionable programme.”
He said Pakistan also faced a challenge on the education front. “Enrollment of girls in schools is very low as compared to boys and the dropout rate is increasing with each passing day,” he added.
“There are challenges like consensus building, helping people hone their skills, and the ability for conflict resolution where women generally excel more,” the minister said.
He stressed the need for the implementation of legislation that had been enacted to ensure gender equality. “If a person doesn’t feel protected then he/she cannot work to the best of their potential.”
Umar said there was another challenge related to engagement, political participation, and empowerment. He highlighted that the challenge was difficult but equally important.
“People say [political] parties should be stronger and they should have no dependency on its leader. This is a great theory but it has no connection to the reality.”
The minister said he could award 50 percent of [election] tickets to women, primarily those with no clout or political background but it was not possible without making basic changes in the system.
“When you devolve powers at the local level, it creates a balance and an opportunity for those who are not a part of the traditional power structure,” the minister emphasized.
He said the incumbent government had several women ministers including Shireen Mazari and Zartaj Gul “but these are exceptions”.
He said a strong local government system was a prerequisite to allowing more women from the lower middle class and middle class to enter the system.
The minister concluded by highlighting that increasing women’s participation was an important goal and stressed that it should be addressed in a systematic way rather than on wishes.
Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination Dr. Fehmida Mirza, Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari, Lieutenant General Nigar Johar, who is the first-ever female general to be appointed the colonel commandant of Army Medical Corps, and several other dignitaries also attended the ceremony.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan also emphasized on empowerment of women, saying “all women have rights and we will enforce them”.
Addressing an event in Rawalpindi in connection with International Women’s Day, he said the government was encouraging parents through financial assistance so they could send their daughters to schools.
“Our country cannot progress unless the women are educated,” he added.
Separately, ministers and political leaders shared their messages on International Women’s Day with a renewed pledge to work for the betterment of women’s rights.
Federal Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari said it was a day to honor women from all walks of life, adding it was also the right of every woman to demand rights and work for her development.