Ongoing initiatives for women’s empowerment and financial inclusion will open new avenues for wider economic development: President Arif Alvi

Press Release by Group Development Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, March 10 (APP): President Dr. Arif Alvi has said that the ongoing measures to empower women and foster their financial inclusion will open new avenues of economic development in the country at large.  Awareness of rights is a challenge. However, constant communication through the media and the public can be helpful.  He expressed these views while addressing the inaugural function of “Insaaf Watch Portal” on Thursday, a web portal designed to improve gender justice in the country, under a partnership between the presidency the Federal Ministry of Law and Justice and Group Development Pakistan. 

The President said that Pakistan was at a critical juncture and its young generation was the center of attention of the world.  The president advised the Federal Ministry of Law and Justice to display posters in the madrassahs and mosques about pro-women and girls laws. He also welcomed the use of new technology and the idea to introduce audio messages, and animated videos, doodles of laws on the portal, as well as the efforts to summarize those laws and ensure their availability in both English and Urdu.

He said that the proportion of cases registered is far less than the actual situation of violation of women’s rights which requires massive awareness among women. He said that the protection of women’s rights should not only be done for the fulfillment of international laws but also because it is a necessity and responsibility of the country, adding that Islam had given inheritance rights to women 1400 years ago.  “Unfortunately, a large proportion of women are deprived of their inherited property and the government has enacted necessary legislation to protect their rights and has empowered the ombudsman’s office for this purpose,” she said.  The president called for the respect for women’s property as well as the implementation of laws to protect them against harassment. 

He said that women should be given their inheritance rights and encouraged to become business partners.  He referred to Hazrat Khadija bibi who was a successful business woman.  “It is the responsibility of the society to prevent crimes against women before they happen and to ensure their safety,” he said.  The President gave the example of Minar-e-Pakistan where a woman was harassed and people made a video of her instead of stopping the scene.  He said that about Rs.500 billion has been disbursed through measures like cash assistance to women through Ehsas program, equivalent educational stipends, stipend for school going girls, which will help in financial empowerment of women. 

He said that it was equally important to pay special attention to women’s health as malnutrition, neonatal deaths, recurrent pregnancies and maternal deaths were obstacles to women’s empowerment and well-being.  The government is in the process of implementing the necessary legislation and structural changes.  He thanked the British High Commission and other partners for their support in setting up the portal.  “It is important for women to be aware of their rights while enforcing the law,” he said.  Legislation took into account Islamic teachings, the country’s constitution and international laws, and a total of more than 700 legal amendments were drafted. 

Parliamentary Secretary for Law and Justice Malika Bukhari said that the portal contained laws on women which would create awareness about the existing laws.  She said  that the government had passed an anti-rape law, a women’s inheritance law and had led a campaign against honor killings.  She said that besides women, this portal is also important for legal experts, media and educationists. 

The Acting Deputy British High Commissioner, Ms Iona Thomas, also addressed the function and appreciated the continuous efforts of President Dr Arif Ali for the protection of women’s rights.  She reiterated the support of the British Government to Pakistan in eradicating crimes against women. The Minister for Law and Justice, Dr Farogh Naseem, underlined that it was now high time to enforce those structural changes.

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