Studies in the recent years, revealed that women empowerment has become a very significant issue of the world. Women’s access to higher education is believed a tool of their empowerment in the intellectual, organizational, social, economic, administrative and familial spheres. Truly speaking, empowerment is an active multidimensional procedure, which should enable women to realize their identity and powers in all spheres of life, counting greater autonomy in decision making, capability to plan their lives, and greater control over the circumstances that influence their lives. In spite of all these, the present government plays an important role in making supportive strategies and programs for enhancing women education.
The Government of Pakistan revealed in the present statistics that women constitute 48.4 percent of Pakistan’s population. It is said that empowerment of women and gender equality is at the foremost agenda of the present government. The contribution of the women to the health and productivity of the whole family and community cannot be denied. The wellbeing and provision of enabling environment for equitable gender participation also ensure enhanced prospects for the next generation.
The adoption of the SDGs, the government initiated dedicated attempts to achieve SDG-5. These attempts began with the collection and reporting of gender-disaggregated data, alongside quota setting for women’s employment in the public sector, and the requirement that women must have at least 33 percent representation on the boards of statutory bodies and public sector organizations. The government official also recorded that a gender management information system was launched in Punjab, while Sindh developed a Gender Reforms Action Plan (GRAP). Funds were allocated by both provinces for the establishment of day care centers at workplaces. Federal and provincial governments have taken a strong stance by launching gender parity like the establishment of a toll-free BOLO helpline in Punjab, establishment of women only police station in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), creation of training and rehabilitation centers in Sindh and across Pakistan.
National and Provincial Commission on the status of women have been at the forefront of attempts to promote gender equality and women empowerment. The maternity benefits act has been amended at the national and provincial levels. Furthermore, domestic violence and prevention act and protection against harassment of women at workplace acts have also been promulgated. The federal and provincial governments counting other civil society stakeholders and organizations remained engaged in promoting gender equality and women empowerment by awareness raising, seminars, workshops and allocation of resources under provincial annual development programs. The initiatives have been taken to empower the women under the Ehsaas Program are:
To attain the supplementary objective of women empowerment, Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) offers support exclusively by women under Kifalat. Through this Program almost 7 million women will get a bank account, under the PM’s one woman one bank account initiative, which will pave the way for their formal interaction and each woman will have a bank account connected to her mobile phone.
National Poverty Graduation Initiative (NPGI)
This initiative is being rolled out in over 100 districts and will impact 16.28 million people with 50 percent women. The overarching goal of NPGI is to help the ultra-poor counting women in graduating out of poverty on a sustainable basis while enhancing their overall food security, nutritional status and resilience to climate change.
- Undergraduate Student Scholarships:
- Aimed at enhancing access to higher education by awarding 50,000 scholarships of Rs 20 billion to undergraduate students from underprivileged families and areas over the next 4-years and 50 percent of the scholarships are reserved for female students.
- Support to the Marginalized (Tahafuz Window Integration): Provision of safety nets for the vulnerable to protect against shocks by one-time financial assistance against catastrophic events such as assistance to poor widows and legal aid. The PC-I of the initiative has been approved and services are being put in place for the beneficiaries.
- Women’s centers: Pakistan Bait-ul-Mal (PBM) is managing 157 Women Empowerment Centers in Pakistan for imparting training in various skills to women and to offer them opportunities for appropriate employment to alleviate the population living below the poverty line in Pakistan. Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) inked between Pakistan Bait-ul-Mal and Pakistan poverty alleviation fund for grant of soft loans to 13,000 passed-out trainees of centers enabling them to start their own small business and become independent under of Ehsaas program.
The government officials urged that the present government has taken legislative initiatives to ensure women’s rights as a basic human right and provision of opportunities for accomplishment of the commitments envisaged in the International Conventions/Commitments. The women empowerment by Human Rights initiatives continued during the year. Funds amounting to Rs 142.9 million allocated in PSDP-2019-20 to five development schemes of Ministry of Human Rights counting implementation of action plan for human rights in Pakistan, institutional strengthening of Ministry of Human Rights, strengthening of regional directorates of Human Rights at Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar and Quetta, Establishment of Human Rights Information Management System and Human Rights Awareness Program. Furthermore, the centre for social entrepreneurship is offering improved entrepreneurial opportunities to the unemployed youth; women led entrepreneurs, start-ups and passing out university students having innovative ideas leading to the solutions of the emerging social problems. The seed money grant is being increased by 1 million for promotion of innovative ideas for job creation.