Men’s involvement in projects designed for women empowerment urged
Unless men are involved in the projects designed for women empowerment, the aim of gender balanced society at grassroots level cannot be achieved.
The observation was shared by the representatives of women economic empowerment projects supported by the Canadian High Commission at a national forum organised on Monday.
Aimed at supporting Pakistan in achieving its development and gender equality goals and helping to stimulate sustainable economic growth, Canadian High Commission organised the Forum on Women Economic Empowerment where active partners of the Commission shared their work, lessons learnt and best practices.
The forum brought together a wide range of development professionals and partners, rural women, the private sector, government representatives, experts on gender and economic participation as well as practitioners. It helped in updating and blending practical and theoretical knowledge on the state of women’s economic participation in Pakistan.
The event started with opening remarks of the Canadian High Commissioner Heather Cruden followed by presentations from the active partners of the Commission including Care, Agha Khan Rural Support Program (AKRSP), Kashf, Plan and International Labour Organisation (ILO). The representatives of partner organisations talked about their success, challenges, best practices and way forward.
They shared that economic empowerment of women was always helpful in bringing women at the decision making level in the household. They said that training of husbands and wives brought faster change as compared to only training women of the house. “Sensitization of only women kept them in subordinated position in the household. Things started changing once you involve and sensitize men,” said Yasmeen Karim of AKRSP while sharing her experience.
Kashf Foundation Chief Executive Roshanay Zafar shared that in rural area, it is only woman of the house that saves money. “She saves for education of children, for food and for better life for the family.”
She shared some findings of the base line survey they conducted under their project. According to that survey, she said that 70 per cent of the women believe that domestic violence in the household occurs due to insufficient income. “With sufficient income, domestic violence can be reduced,” she suggested. She shared that household income in Rs7,668 higher for family enterprises where women are involved as compared to other businesses.
Speaking on this occasion, Canadian High Commissioner Heather Cruden said that the ongoing marginalisation of women is a key barrier to sustainable economic growth. “It is my hope that more women can become literate and informed wage earners who can then make better choices for themselves and their children. When women and girls are empowered and have equal access to economic opportunities, poverty decreases, opportunity for development expands, and entire families, communities and countries benefit,” she said.
She said that women make 50 per cent of the population in Pakistan and it is vital to mobilize and empower them for sustainable economic growth of Pakistan. “With women participation, Pakistan’s per capita income can increase up to 13 per cent,” she shared with the participants.
Cruden said that Canadian government is supporting skill training and education of the women in Pakistan. She said that Canadian government has a policy against early marriage and they try to create awareness on this issue through these projects.
The Forum is an annual event since 2011 and has evolved from a meeting of active partners sharing their programming successes and experiences to a larger meeting of stakeholders with sector wise women’s economic empowerment programming objectives in Pakistan.