Islamabad, May 23, 2012 (PPI-OT): The issue of mainstreaming rights of widows and single women in public policy is an important subject, which has not been able to get the focus of media, civil society and corresponding public policy coverage as it rightfully deserved.
Goodwill Ambassador for Women Empowerment, Fiza Batool Gilani, expressed these views while addressing a seminar organized by Aurat Foundation in Islamabad.
The Goodwill Ambassador said that while the cause of women empowerment and emancipation has started to get attention at different levels thanks to the exemplary struggle waged by the women rights groups, there has been discernible lack of focus and public policy intervention in mainstreaming the rights of widows and single women.
She said that it is utmost duty of the state to alleviate their sufferings by providing them with an environment where they can grow like other citizens of the state. Frequent policy interventions need not only to be framed but also implemented in true letter and spirit for the maximum benefit of these women.
She pointed out that the manifesto of Pakistan People’s Party includes empowerment of women and regards it as a key to socio-economic development of the country. Deriving vision from its Shaheed leader Mohtrama Benazir Bhutto, PPP has been making relentless efforts for women empowerment, gender equality and women emancipation.
The Goodwill Ambassador emphasized that the present government’s commitment to creating an enabling environment for the women of Pakistan is evident from the women-related legislative reforms taken up by the Parliament.
As a result of this continuous focus, laws like ‘The Protection against Harassment at the Work Place Act 2010’, Acid Control and Acid Crime Prevention Act 2011, Prevention of anti-Women Practices Act, 2011 and ‘Women in Distress and Detention Fund 2011’ have been passed by the present Parliament. Widows and single women would surely benefit out of these legislative measures.
She said that as a social safety net, the democratic government introduced the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) for the economically vulnerable sections of society and widows have been given special precedence in this programme.
The Goodwill Ambassador said that in the aftermath of various natural and terror-related calamities which have afflicted Pakistan in the last decade, Pakistan Baitul Mal has also come out strongly to help the distressed and bereaved families.
The state has made utmost efforts to help those women, who lost their husbands at the hands of terrorism, through cash, jobs to kin, provision of respectable livelihoods and free education for their children so that they continue living their lives in a respectable way.
The Goodwill Ambassador said that Benazir Bhutto Shaheed Women Crisis Centres have played pivotal role to give relief to the women in distress. It is in these Centres that they are provided free legal aid, medical facilities and shelter.
For bringing about fundamental change in the lives of widows and single women, it is incumbent that such schemes of skills development are initiated that make them economically empowered, the Goodwill Ambassador concluded.
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Haji Ahmed Malik
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