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ISLAMABAD: More than half of the “millions of beneficiaries” of Ehsaas Programme, which is the federal government’s “largest social safety initiative in the history of Pakistan” are females with special focus being given to women and girls to uplift their socio-economic standards, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation Dr Sania Nishtar said on Monday.

“Ehsaas is a pioneering anti-poverty programme in the country that aims to ensure that all women, no matter their background, have the opportunity to succeed,” she said, addressing a webinar organized by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to mark the International Women’s Day.

There are currently over 250 policies under the umbrella of Ehsaas, many of which are designed to specifically target women, she said.

“A country cannot thrive when half of its population is not educated and enabled to fulfill their potentials. Therefore, at its core, Ehsaas aims to lift the seven million poorest women in Pakistan out of poverty and help them to achieve their potential,” she said adding that the programme aims to enroll seven million women by June this year, who would be provided financial assistance.

FAO Representative in Pakistan Rebekah Bell stated that communities within food systems are critical to global development and development within Pakistan. “Financial equality, equality of empowerment, equality of opportunity and the equality of the right to benefit from the outputs of food systems is necessary for development impact and achievement of the SDGs. This year is the year of transformation and we need collective efforts to empower women socially, financially, economically and nutritionally. We need support to throughout this year to champion women’s role in food systems within the country and globally as well,” she said.

FAO together with partners is marking the International Women’s Day by highlighting the role of rural women in agriculture sector in Pakistan, the systems set in place that support them, and the policy work that needs to be done to ensure implementation of policies and reforms, she added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021