Pakistan expresses commitment to women empowerment, SDGs at UN

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NEW YORK: Pakistan expressed its firm commitment to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), highlighting various steps taken by the federal and the provincial governments for women empowerment at the United Nations, said an official press release on Thursday.

Speaking at the 62nd Session of the Commission on Status of Women, Dr. Shezra Mansab Ali Khan, MNA and head of Pakistan’s delegation said, the SDG task forces have made well resourced and concrete action plans for achieving women empowerment.

“Pakistan has also enacted a spate of laws for prevention of customary practices and to strengthen laws for punishing rape and honour crimes”, she said as per the official statement.

Dr. Ali said achieving SDGs and full realisation of the rights of rural women and girls would require renewed commitment, increased investment and significantly greater financing from all sources, including official development assistance and help by the national government.

The Commission on the Status of Women is the principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women.

The priority theme for this year for debate is, ‘Challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls’ stated the official statement.

She told the global body that Pakistan’s constitution guarantees equal rights for all its citizens without discrimination. It also ensures full participation of women in all spheres of life. “None of us can move forward if half of us are left behind”, she added.

Highlighting Pakistan’s Vision 2025 as the blue print for Pakistan’s own long-term, sustainable and inclusive development, Dr. Ali said that the vision prioritises gender equality and women development, through institutional restructuring, policies and fiscal reforms, women employment in public sector and women’s political participation.

“One of the biggest priorities of the government is to reduce the feminisation of poverty, especially among rural populations”, she added.

Recounting various government schemes Dr. Ali mentioned the Benazir Income Support Programme as the largest social safety-net programme in Pakistan, aimed at empowering some of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable rural women, benefiting approximately five million.

She also told the UN about the government schemes specifically tailored at providing women with opportunity to harness loans in order to participate in promotion and development of the agricultural sector.

“Special Schemes like ‘Women Employment Scheme’ have been introduced for rural women across the country”, she said, adding “Rural women’s access to financial services is being expanded as part of the National Financial Inclusion Strategy. In addition, over fifty institutions in Pakistan are providing credit and micro-credit facilities to rural women entrepreneurs”.

Dr Ali cited her own example, representing a predominantly conservative rural constituency, where she defeated a male opponent, a senior and prominent public figure, by a huge margin.

“My experience has been varied. I chose to listen and learn from my constituents, especially poor rural women”, she said.

She concluded by expressing Pakistan’s commitment to earnestly work with members of the international community, for a future where ‘no one is left behind’ in the pursuit of self-fulfillment and prosperity, mentioned the official statement.