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Khawar Mumtaz:Considerable progress made in gender equality & advancement of women in Pakistan over the past twenty years

Nov 20, 2014

The United Nation Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) in collaboration with UN Women convened an Asian and Pacific Conference on gender equality and empowerment of women in Bangkok from 17-20 November 2014. A large number of ministers, high level government officials and civil society representatives attended the Conference from across Asian and Pacific countries. Pakistan delegation was led by Ms. Khawar Mumtaz, Chairperson National Commission on the Status of Women. She was elected as the Rapporteur of the Conference. The participants reviewed progress, remaining challenges and priorities in advancing gender equality in the region over the span of past twenty years. The Conference highlighted particularly, the work in areas of women economic empowerment, political participation and leadership, violence against women, disabilities and, women and the environment.  

2.       Ms. Khawar Mumtaz, in her statement to the conference noted progress made in gender equality and advancement of women in Pakistan over the past twenty years and highlighted the active role played by Pakistani women in all spheres of life.  She said that the participation of women in the development process was a priority of the present Government through mainstreaming gender issues into policies, development plans and programmes as a key planning strategy. The Government had initiated the Benazir Income Support Programme delivered through women in poor households, Youth Loan scheme with 50% allocation for girls, taken various affirmative actions as well as Micro credit schemes. Women protection Center and Shelter Homes were established to provide immediate relief and effective legislation had been made to curb harassment of women and harmful customary practices. Nevertheless challenges remained in women education and health especially reproductive health and rights sectors, violence against women, sex disaggregated data among others. 

3.       The Conference delegates applauded gains in advancing the status of women and girls in Asia and the Pacific, from progress in education and employment, to gains in health, political representation and rights. Yet, as Asia-Pacific countries heard today as the high-level discussions concluded in Bangkok, challenges remain, with accelerated action needed for all women and girls to be able to fully and freely exercise their rights and taking advantage of opportunities without any discrimination.

4.       A Ministerial Declaration, committing to accelerate action on achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment as well as eliminating all forms of discrimination and violence against women across the region was also adopted at the end of the Conferences. The Asia-Pacific Conference was held in advance of the historic and global commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which will take place next year during the 59th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women.

5.       A large number of civil society representatives, especially women with disabilities, from Pakistan attended and substantially contributed to the Conference.

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