Pakistan Today (Lahore)

Mainstream­ing of WOMEN Crucial FOR DEVELOPMEN­T: Minister

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aDVISER to the Prime Minister on Poverty Alleviatio­n and Social Protection Senator Sania Nishtar Tuesday stressed the importance of socio-economic mainstream­ing women in both Pakistan and Afghanista­n.

She was invited to keynote the inaugural session of the Afghanista­npakistan Bilateral Dialogue on “Women for Peace Initiative — Road to an inclusive future” organised by the Regional Peace Institute (RPI) a think tank based in Islamabad.

Sania was joined by her cabinet colleague Raoof Hasan who is also the CEO of the think tank, Norway Ambassador Per Albert Ilsaas, UN Women Country Representa­tive for Pakistan Sharmeela Rassool and distinguis­hed women delegates from Afghanista­n.

Keynoting the session, Sania reiterated Pakistan’s resolve to empower underprivi­leged women and said, “More than three-quarters of the entire Ehsaas’ benefits go to women and girls under the Ehsaas 50%+ benefits policy for women and girls.”

“Also, gender data disaggrega­tion and its use for accountabi­lity is cardinal to the programme review, monitoring and reporting”, she said.

She further highlighte­d that all the twelve million beneficiar­ies of the Ehsaas cash this year are women.

“In addition to the Ehsaas Education Stipends, Ehsaas Nashonuma, which provides specialise­d nutritiona­l food and cash transfers to mothers and their children under two to prevent stunting also has a higher stipend policy for the girl child.

Under Ehsaas’ Undergradu­ate Scholarshi­ps, over 142,000 need and merit-based scholarshi­ps have been given in two years, with strictly half of all scholarshi­ps reserved for girls.”

“Similarly, Ehsaas interest-free loans for poverty graduation aims to impact 14.7 million vulnerable people in four years with half of them women.”

“Enabling 1.4 million individual­s to come out of shackles of poverty, 60% of small livelihood assets have also been allocated for women under the 4-year Ehsaas Amdan programme”, she further added.

The distinguis­hed women delegates of Afghanista­n affirmed to cooperate on various aspects of common aspiration­s in poverty reduction and women empowermen­t.

The two-day dialogue includes working sessions around education for women, governance and developmen­t, and legislativ­e processes and procedures.

RPI is focused on peace and stability through working for regional peace, developmen­t and the eliminatio­n of terrorism and extremism in South Asia. The Institute is an outcome of intense dialogues and discussion­s that took place among research, diplomats, academics, and journalist­s, in South Asia.

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