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October 16, 2018

World to be better place if women, men enjoy same rights, says Swedish envoy


October 16, 2018

LAHORE: This week Ms Annika Ben David, Sweden’s Ambassador-at-large for human rights, democracy and the rule of law, visited Pakistan.

Ms Annika Ben David met with several representatives for formal exchanges. This scribe got the opportunity to talk to her about her role in protection of human rights. When this scribe asked about the priorities for her trip to Pakistan, Ms Annika Ben David replied that this was her first visit to Pakistan; she was excited to be here and came here to attend Asma Jahangir conference.

She said, “I was a keynote speaker on gender mainstreaming, gender equality is a matter at the very heart of Swedish national and foreign policy; gender equality and its connections to peace, security and economic development. During my visit I met with several government officials of Pakistan, civil society and media as well.” On a question about a feminist foreign policy of Sweden, she said, “To us, gender equality is fundamentally about women’s and girls’ enjoyment of human rights; about democracy and social justice. But it is not just that a matter of legal principle, or justice. It is also a smart and - to us necessary - way to take on today’s challenges. Therefore, four years ago, the Swedish Prime Minister launched the world’s first feminist government. In fact, we invented the feminist foreign policy. The reason was simple. The world would be a better place if women and men enjoyed the same rights, and had the same representation and resources.”

Ms Annika Ben David said research showed that global economy would grow by 20 percent if women and men were equal in working life. The proportion of household income spent on children’s development increases significantly when women have greater control over household’s resources. If women were able to farm on the same terms as men, 100 million people would avoid going hungry. Same example could be applied here as half of the population is women.

About global challenges that need to be addressed right now, Ms Annika Ben David opined democracy is under pressure and human rights are questioned and aligned in all regions of the world, as is the rule of law. The space for civil society, including human rights defenders is shrinking. Sweden will continue to be a strong voice that stands up for, defends and promotes human rights, democracy and the principles of the rule of law in Pakistan and around the world.

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