Pakistan to ensure central role for women, build institutions responsive to their needs: PM
Nawaz says we will remove remaining obstacles to empower women, provide them a world free of violence
UNITED NATIONS – Pakistan told a high-level meeting on Gender Equality and Women Empowerment at the United Nations (UN) on Sunday that it was determined to ensure a more central role for women in the political, economic and other spheres of national life, and build and strengthen institutions that are more responsive to women’s needs.
“We are working towards creating an enabling environment that will provide our women and girls even greater access to education, economic resources, skills development and employment opportunities,” Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said in a speech to the landmark event co-hosted by UN Women and China in conjunction with the UN Summit on the post-2015 development framework and as part of the 20th Anniversary commemoration of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.
After opening remarks by Chinese President Xi Jinping and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the presidents of Mexico, and Kenya – as the hosts of two previous World Conferences on Women – and the president of the 70th session of the General Assembly, co-chaired the remainder of the event. PM Nawaz said, “The presence of world leaders here is a testimony to our continued and steadfast commitment to the goals and objectives of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which was a watershed in the long struggle to secure for women, equal rights and status in society.”
Welcoming the goal on gender equality and women empowerment in the Post-2015 Development Agenda, he said the challenge now is to invest sufficient resources and to adopt appropriate policies to ensure its full and effective realisation. “Our adherence to the ideals of empowering women and protecting their rights stems from our faith, our constitution and the vision of our founding fathers. As Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah said: “No nation can rise to the height of glory unless women are side by side with men,” the prime minister told world leaders attending the meeting.
“We will build and strengthen institutions that are more responsive to women’s needs, help remove remaining obstacles to their empowerment, and provide them a world free of violence,” he said. “This requires an attitudinal shift and a long-term commitment to making women equal partners in national and global progress and prosperity.” “We will provide the leadership to realise this vision on which hinges the future of our nation.” Recognising that women and girls hold the key to reaping the demographic dividend, he said Pakistan has introduced many initiatives over the years, including the following: establishment of national and provincial commissions on the status of women. Led by women, they are independent and contributing to formulation of legislation and policies for women; Strengthening and improving the implementation of the National Policy for Development and Empowerment of Women; Enacting and implementing pro-women legislation, including the Criminal Law Amendment Act, declaring honour killing a crime; Acid Control and Acid Crime Prevention Act; Women in Distress and Detention Fund Act; Social protection and safety nets, insurance and micro finance schemes, and the Benazir Income Support Programme; The “Youth Business Loan” Programme for young entrepreneurs; Ensuring representation of women in political and executive institutions at the federal and provincial levels, and, including women empowerment in the First Pillar of our key planning document, “Vision 2025”, to inculcate leadership among women at the grassroots level.
The prime minister said, “All countries stand to benefit from empowerment of women.” “We are therefore determined to ensure a more central role for women in the political, economic, as well as other spheres of national life.” In Pakistan, he said, more girls are pursuing higher education and professional careers today than ever before. Women were being employed in public and private sectors in increasing numbers. At the tertiary level, he added, girls have consistently achieved higher levels of performance as compared to boys. “But a lot more needs to be done,” he said.