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ISLAMABAD: First Lady Samina Alvi on Saturday said that empowerment of women by making them self-dependent was vital to make them play a productive role for their families as well as the society.

Addressing an opening ceremony of the annual charity bazaar held by the Pakistan Foreign Office Women Association (PFOWA), she said the government had taken various measures for women’s self-dependence.

Held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the bazaar provided a mix of cultures and cuisines with the stall depicting the artifacts and apparel of multiple countries.

The stalls were set up by the embassies of various countries including China, Turkey, Thailand, Iraq, Iran, Jordan, UAE, the European Union, and many more besides the educational institutes and private companies.

The first lady exemplified the women-specific easy loan schemes launched by the government and also urged the people to never ignore the differently-abled people rather develop inclusivity for them.

She lauded the PFOWA for keeping up its charitable services even during the pandemic besides taking part in the awareness drive on breast cancer.

Reiterating her message, Samina Alvi asked the women to spare just five minutes for their self-examination for an early diagnosis of breast cancer.

She said besides its charity part, the bazaar also became a source of cultural affinity and social contacts. She hoped the activity would contribute to the welfare of the deserving people besides promoting the national culture.

Referring to the display of artisan’s work at stalls, she called for the exchange of the artists to promote art as well as generate economic activity.

The first lady, who also took a round of the bazaar and interacted with the stall holders, urged the educational institutes to arrange skill training for their students which was essential to enhance their acceptability in the market.

Earlier, Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood said the bazaar had become a part of Islamabad’s social calendar contributing to fundraising for the charity works.

He said being an important pillar of the Foreign Office, PFOWA successfully carried the legacy of its founders through its pro-poor and welfare initiatives.

He said the Association actively took part in the awareness on breast cancer besides supporting the people in calamity-hit areas.

PFOWA Patron Mehreen Qureshi said the bazaar’s objective was to promote a better understanding of Pakistan and support charity works.

She said the exhibition of multiple cultures and cuisines gave a feel of festivity and joy. She said the funds raised through this bazaar would be used to support the needy people particularly the low-paid employees of the Foreign Office.

PFOWA President Mehvish Sohail said under its outreach programme, the Association contributed to providing education and health facilities in different areas.

She hoped the bazaar would help bring a difference to the life of other people as philanthropy was at the heart of the activity.

The event also marked the cultural performances by the children and artists from different countries including Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Maldives, and others.

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