European Union will support rural development projects in Pakistan with €340 million funds during 2014 to 2020 focusing on education and professional development in underdeveloped areas particularly in Sindh, Baluchistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces.
The information was shared by Charge d’ Affaires, European Union Delegation to Pakistan Anne Marchal while chairing the two-day Annual Conference on Rural Women Day in Pakistan organised by Potohar Organization for Development Advocacy (PODA) on Wednesday.
Speaking on the occasion, PODA Executive Director Sameena Nazir said that Pakistan's progress is incomplete without the participation of its population of women majority of whom live in rural areas she demanded social security benefits for women famers and implementation of pro women laws.
Congratulating the participants of the 9th Annual Conference on Rural Women on recently passed two laws-specifically the anti-rape law the speakers of the conference stressed the implementation of the existing laws, which protect women.
The speakers urged the government to initiate such mechanisms, which can ensure women human rights defenders protection. The speakers shared the view that both men and women, specifically women, need to change themselves first to bring change in the system and their respective communities.
Representatives of all provinces and AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan spoke on the occasion. They included, Surriya Munni from Gilgit-Baltistan, Yasmeen Gul from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Bushra Tabassum from AJK, Rani Waheeda from Bahawalpur, Veeru Kohlan from Sindh. They termed the conference a rich opportunity to learn and interact with each other as they share their experiences, which enable them to work more effectively in their communities when they return to their homes. They also shared that how they brought change in old practices in their communities.
Anne Marchal, Charge d’ Affaires, European Union Delegation to Pakistan, Carlos Morales, Ambassador of Spain, Surriya Amiruddin, Member Parliamentary Caucus, Naseer Memon, Chief Executive, Strengthening Participatory Organisation (SPO), Kishwar Naheed, eminent writer and poet, Fauzia Saeed, Executive Director, Lok Virsa, Dr. Zarina Salamat, human rights activist and board member, PODA addressed the inaugural session as keynote speakers.
Anne Marchal said that another key area in empowering girls and women is to ensure that their social and economic rights, access to and control over land and other resources, are fulfilled. “In Pakistan, ground work has already been done on this as the enabling legislative environment does exist, but further efforts, such as implementation of law of inheritance in its true spirit and providing further counselling are needed," she said.
Ambassador of Spain said that the key features of this conference are to get together the real stakeholders where they meet, share and discuss real issues and Embassy of Spain is happy to contribute in this great initiative.
Guest speakers also stressed on the fact that over the years Pakistani women have achieved significant achievements, yet still a lot needs to be done. “The dream of an equitable society cannot be achieved without the inclusion of rural women. Hence, collective efforts are needed to educate them, sensitise them about their rights and provide them opportunities where they can grow and excel,” they said.
Charge d’ Affaires, European Union Delegation to Pakistan Anne Marchal, accompanied by other dignities inaugurated the crafts exhibition where craftswomen's work was on display portraying rich culture of the country.
The first policy strategy session of the day titled “Women Rights’ Defenders Risks and Rights” was moderated by Tanveer Jehan, Director Democratic Commission for Human Development, while recommendations and conclusions were presented by Anis Haroon, Member, National Commission on Human Rights.
Session started with a role play by rural women leaders on the risks and threats faced by women human rights defenders. Sharing their views on the topic, expert speakers shared with the participants that the struggle of women human rights defenders is manifold as they also have to face resistance from their families, hence they should analyse a situation properly before raising an issue and must have alternate solutions to the problems. They also stressed that women human rights defenders should be ready for negotiations without comprising on principle stand. They also highlighted the need of proper institutionalization of key organizations.
Anis concluded the session saying that the women human rights defenders need to organise themselves and evolve a strategy keeping in view their ground realties which can protect them as in the present scenarios they cannot take threat lightly.
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