Islamabad: Dr. Marilyn Wyatt, wife of U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter, joined Academy Award winner Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy in calling for an end to acid attacks and other violence against women during a panel discussion today at the Higher Education Commission.
The panel discussion, attended by an audience of more than 150 university students and officials from across Pakistan, was sponsored jointly by the Higher Education Commission, the Aurat Foundation, and the Acid Survivors Foundation with U.S. support.
Applauding the efforts of the Pakistani legislature to pass acid attack legislation, Dr. Wyatt asked the attendees to work to end gender-based violence, specifically acid attacks. Dr Wyatt said, “The main objective of this event is to raise awareness among university age students about the devastating effects of acid attacks and acid crimes on Pakistani society. Pakistan’s youth demographic represents 60 percent of the nation’s citizenry, it is important that you sensitize yourself to this important issue so that your mothers, sisters, and daughters do not suffer from this gruesome crime.”
Dr. Wyatt also noted that U.S. assistance helps empower Pakistani women through civil society, academia, and the government. Through the Gender Equity Program, implemented by the Aurat Foundation, USAID provides grants to civil society organizations which work to end gender-based violence, and advance women’s rights and economic opportunities. Thus far, USAID has provided 76 grants valued at $3.5 million for Gender Equity programs.
These projects will increase civil registration enabling 1.6 million women to vote and access government services, advocate and coordinate national policy reforms combating gender based violence, provide internships for 200 women lawyers, and assist women regain property rights in flood affected areas.
The panel featured Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and Professor Hamid Hassan, a doctor who heads the burn unit at Benazir Bhutto International Hospital in Rawalpindi; Dr. Khadija Tahir, a psychotherapist that treats acid survivors; Barrister Naveed Muzaffar Khan, a barrister who defends victims of acid attacks; and representatives from the Acid Survivors Foundation and Aurat Foundation.
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