Punjab to unveil women’s development policy – Pakistan

LAHORE: Envisioning a “gender-sensitive” Punjab, the provincial government ultimately developed the Punjab Women’s Development Policy to systematically eradicate all manifestations of explicit and implicit gender discrimination in all spheres of society, including the governance, development and livelihoods.

The Punjab Women’s Development Department intends to launch the new policy on the occasion of International Women’s Day which falls on March 8 (tomorrow). This year, the world is celebrating this day around a theme: #PressforProgress.

As the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Gender Gap Report says gender parity is over 200 years away, the world believes staying motivated and moving forward is crucial.

Since the introduction of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan which delegated various functions to the provinces, the government of Punjab has introduced several laws to support the cause of gender mainstreaming and women’s development. However, the absence of a coherent and comprehensive policy has always been identified as a crucial missing link in research and diagnostic studies undertaken by national and international entities.

In addition to introducing various bills as well as amendments to existing laws in the Punjab Assembly, the government last year approved the Punjab Women Empowerment Package 2017 which required the women’s development department to set up a policy to respond to all the development problems of women. and challenges, including gender mainstreaming and empowerment of women in accordance with the spirit of the Constitution, Pakistan’s international commitments and the priorities of the provincial government.

The policy envisions a gender sensitive Punjab, where women and men enjoy equity and equality in all walks of life; women and girls are able to fulfill their roles in achieving and enjoying individual and collective well-being, development and prosperity without any explicit or implicit discrimination.

In the new policy, the government of Punjab is committed to providing an enabling framework for women’s development that supports inclusive governance and development in the province. The government will ensure equal rights and opportunities for women, alongside men, at family, community, workplace and across all branches of government.

In order to realize the vision, mission and objective of the policy in accordance with the social development program and the government roadmap, the government of Punjab has identified nine main objectives. It is committed to honoring constitutional, family and legal rights related to women; ensure greater and effective political empowerment and decision-making rights for women at all levels of governance and society, including provincial assemblies and elected local governments.

The policy will be used as an instrument to empower women economically by increasing and encouraging the participation of women in the labor market alongside men in economic spheres, development programs and processes in the province to explicitly respond to needs. challenges women face in accessing economic opportunities.

In order to promote and facilitate equal and timely access to education for girls alongside boys, including the retention of universal and quality education at all levels, the government will need to provide improved and broader opportunities. for the education and training of women.

Women’s development policy should provide quality and affordable health and care services to women alongside men, with particular emphasis on maternal health, women’s reproductive rights and immunization outcomes.

Another objective of the policy will be to improve the vulnerability of women in society by eliminating discriminatory behavior and transforming negative and discriminatory attitudes at social and institutional levels in addition to adopting zero tolerance for gender-based violence.

In order to support women, men and families, especially those living in fragile ecosystems, against the adverse effects of climate change, the policy aims to improve the gender sensitivity of planning for the management of natural resources and climate change resilient mitigation and disaster risk reduction strategies.

The Women’s Development Department will be responsible for strengthening existing data and introducing additional collections and reporting on gender disaggregated data. The data will support efforts to promote advocacy, monitoring, research and knowledge development functions on the themes of gender mainstreaming and women’s empowerment.

Relevant officials say the policy is based on a number of general principles that have been drawn from national and international best practice. They say that policy priorities will be pursued through a range of sector strategies corresponding to each of the priority policy areas within the provincial institutional architecture comprising all departments of the provincial government, including finance as well as planning and planning departments. development, the Punjab Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW), local governments, politicians, civil society, NGOs, media and international development partners.

Since many sectors are involved in implementing the policy, relevant officials say the ministry will need to take a holistic and interconnected approach during implementation to be successful. The department, in consultation with all stakeholders, will also be required to develop short-term (1-2 years), medium (3-4 years) and long-term (5-10 years) action plans. with clearly defined outputs, outcomes and monitoring. indicators for policy implementation.

Posted in Dawn, March 7, 2018

Mara R. Wilmoth