ISLAMABAD: The Government of Canada is an ardent supporter of women’s rights both at home and around the world. Canada has successfully implemented gender equality programs in Pakistan over the last 30 years. The Women’s Economic Empowerment Forum has been hosted by the High Commission of Canada since 2011. This year, the scope of the Forum was expanded to address women’s empowerment and women’s rights in all aspects – political, economic, social, and humanitarian.
The Forum looked at the underlying social and cultural factors that constrain women’s ability to be equal and active participants in Pakistan’s social, economic and political arena. The Forum complements the celebrations of Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation, which underscores Canada’s promotion of diversity, pluralism and gender equality. The Women’s Empowerment Forum brought together a diverse range of women and men.
Panelists addressed the major challenges to women’s social, political, and economic participation and empowerment, such as the impact of harmful cultural practices, biased social attitudes, non-gender responsive police and judiciary, and religious extremism and intolerance. The participants development professionals, rural women, the private sector, and government representatives discussed themes such as the enforcement of progressive legislation, their experience and views on measures needed to support women’s social and economic mobility, and promoting women’s engagement in decision-making.
When women are politically empowered, they can help create an enabling environment for their increased economic participation,” said High Commissioner Perry Calderwood. When women are empowered economically, their family and community benefits. Similarly by promoting women’s rights, all marginalized groups stand to benefit. A society that upholds women’s rights will also respect the rights of religious minorities; the rights of children – especially those victims of exploitation and trafficking and the rights of LGBT people. I invite you today to reflect on how we collectively can promote these rights as we advance those of women.