UK Development Secretary: new support for one million women in Pakistan
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The new support funded by the UK government will help women in local communities by providing them with training on their rights and advice on how to resolve problems
Up to one million women across Pakistan will benefit from UK support to help protect them from violence and increase their participation in politics, the economy, and decision making, the UK’s Development Secretary Justine Greening announced today.
The new support follows a successful pilot last year, which amongst other things helped thousands of women to get their CNIC cards and participate in mock-voting training sessions, so that they could vote in the recent election – many for the first time.
Ms Greening pledged that the UK will do all it can to support Pakistan to empower women, stop violence, and harness the economic potential of half its population, at a meeting yesterday with leading female members of the Punjab Provincial Assembly, including Punjab Minister for Women and Development Hamida Waheedudin, Punjab Minister for Population Welfare Zakia Shahnawaz, and Secretary of Women Development Iram Bukhari.
At the meeting she heard about steps being taken by the Punjab Government to improve the position of women through its Punjab Women Empowerment Package, and discussed how the UK can best support its ambitious goals.
Secretary of State for International Development Justine Greening said:
Pakistan has one of the worst ‘gender gaps’ and is the third most dangerous country in the world for women. As well as being wrong, this is a huge missed opportunity. Pakistan is missing out on the talent and productivity of half its population, holding back growth and opportunity.
The Govt of Punjab recognises this, and has made excellent progress on protecting and empowering women and girls, such as introducing laws to protect them from sexual harassment at work, mandating that government committees must consist of a third women, and improving their right to inherit and own land.
The UK government pledges its support to the Govt of Punjab on its ambitious plans as they take this further. I can confirm that up to one million women across Pakistan will benefit from UK support over the coming years. This will not only protect them from violence and increase their participation in politics and the economy, but also help Pakistan to harness the talent, skills, and productivity of half of its population.
Pakistan is ranked bottom at 134 out of 135 countries in the World Economic Forum ‘gender gap’ report, due to lack of economic opportunities, denial of access to education and health, and under-representation in politics and decision-making. Pakistan is unlikely to meet the Millennium Development Goals to promote gender equality.
The new support funded by the UK government will help women in local communities by providing them with training on their rights and advice on how to resolve problems, as well as helping district, local and provincial government to implement existing laws which protect and empower women. The assistance will be provided through local Pakistani organisations and will operate in districts across Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkwha.
The UK already supports Pakistan’s national Income Support Programme (BISP), which protects the poorest by giving women in deprived households small monthly cash grants of 1,200 rupees (approx. £8) to purchase essentials, such as food and medicine. Mothers can receive an additional 200rps for each child (up to three) they send to primary school. In Punjab, this means 131,812 women receive this money each month, thanks to the UK. This will double to 275,000 families by 2015.
Other priorities for the UK include working with Pakistan to provide support which will benefit four million children in school – half of them girls; preventing thousands of mothers dying in childbirth by funding skilled midwives, nurses or doctors for one million births; and enabling half-a-million couples to choose when and how many children to have.
Pakistan is now one of the UK’s largest recipients of development investment. The investment is dependent on continuing to secure value for money and results.
- In Pakistan, contact DFID-Pakistan media team on + 92 (0) 51 201 2516 / 2580.
Notes to editors
The Department for International Development (DFID) is the UK’s Government department responsible for promoting sustainable development and reducing poverty. The central focus of DFID is a commitment to the internationally agreed Millennium Development Goals to be achieved by 2015.
Further information here https://www.gov.uk/government/world/pakistan