Women empowerment key to poverty eradication: CM Khattak

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PESHAWAR: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Chief Minister (CM) Pervez Khattak has said that ‘women empowerment’ is a key to poverty eradication, building resilient societies, economies and promoting sustainable development.

He said this while addressing the inauguration ceremony of “Women Empowerment Policy” at CM House in Peshawar. Women empowerment is an essential component of human development and basic human right, he added.

The event was also addressed by Women Parliamentary Caucus Chairperson Meraj Humayun, UNO Women Welfare Affairs Country Head Jamshed Qazi and other speakers who highlighted various steps of KP government for the welfare of women folk. Besides the KP Assembly Deputy Speaker Dr Mehertaj Roghani, KP Minister for Information Shah Farman Khan and some other provincial ministers and MPAs, including women from different walks of life attended the event.

Pervez Khattak said that KP government acknowledged the fact that advancement of women’s rights was a critical precondition for effective and sustainable development. Therefore, women empowerment was one of the primary focuses of the KP government which was committed to take affirmative action to achieve this goal.

He also said that the current provincial government had taken a number of steps and initiated many programmes in field of education and health sectors, governance, access to legal justice and increasing employment opportunities for women. However, he maintained that there was still a long way to go.

“Further efforts have to be made to fill in the gaps in women and especially girls’ education, their employment, access to credit, property and land rights and women’s access to justice besides their representation in the political, public and private spheres”, he added.

The chief minister said that in order to address these multifaceted constraints and facilitate women empowerment in the province in a systematic manner, the provincial government drafted the “Women Empowerment Policy” for creating enabling environment for women where they can take decisions for their betterment as a whole.

He also said that it was with great pleasure that the KP government had presented the updated version of the policy which provided implementation level guidelines and actions for the stakeholders to work towards achieving its goals. “I appreciate the efforts of women parliamentary caucus for elaborating the policy document to make it implementable,” he added.

Pervez Khattak also showed the confidence that with the consistency in efforts and focus, the government will be able to achieve the goal of women empowerment in KP.

He also said that women empowerment policy aimed at improving the overall status of women in the province through their socio-economic, political and legal empowerment. Its salient features include provision of quality health care, reducing gender gap in education, creation of employment and income generation opportunities to encourage their equal participation in all political processes.

“It also aims to ensure elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against women and girls through legislation and its effective implementation,” he added.

The CM also said that the policy was based on the principles of non-discrimination, gender equality, priority to the women in rural areas, recognition of the value of women in society, their contribution in all spheres of life, and women as equal partners in development and agents of change in economic, social and political processes.

He further stated that the provincial cabinet had recently approved the amendments in the Protection against Harassment of Women at Work place Act, 2010 which will definitely reduce and curb the menace of harassment of women at workplaces. Besides, he said that the KP government has already enacted the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Commission on the Status of Women Act 2016 to make the women commission financially and administratively autonomous.

The chief minister said that KP government was well-aware of the fact that the working women of the society faced multiple challenges in their daily affairs especially with regard to their residential facility. For the purpose, the provincial government has established two working women hostels in Peshawar and Mardan while one in Swat had also been included in the current year’s annual development programme.

Pervez Khattak said that the 16-day International Activism Campaign was being celebrated throughout the province with an overarching theme “Leave no one behind: end violence against women especially the girls” with a commitment to establish a society free of violence for women and girls.