ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Ahsan Iqbal has launched a 16-day campaign against Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and established a Gender Unit in the ministry amid the socioeconomic empowerment of women to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on Friday.

This is an annual international campaign that begins on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and runs until Human Rights Day (December 10). The campaign was formally launched by the Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives, Ahsan Iqbal, during a ceremony held at the ministry.

The launching ceremony was attended by the Chairperson of the National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW) Nilofar Bakhtiar, Executive Director Higher Education Commission HEC Dr Shaista Sohail, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Amna Baig, students, and civil society activities.

“The development process of any country remains slow if the women are not given equal opportunities,” said the minister, while highlighting the significance of women’s participation in the development of the country.

The minister further said that unfortunately, women’s participation in the development process is weak and this campaign and Gender Unit will help to get the desired results.

The campaign will be run in educational institutes of Rawalpindi and Islamabad from November 25 to till December 10 in collaboration with the Federal Investigation Authority (FIA).

The Young Development Fellows (YDF) attached with the ministry will start visiting educational institutes to organise the event to create awareness among the masses.

The representatives of the FIA will give presentations on cybercrime laws and policies.

According to a latest research report by the Digital Rights Foundation, 40 percent of women in Pakistan have been victims of cyber bullying in the form of sexual harassment, blackmailing, hate speech, stalking, identity theft, and physical threats.

While highlighting women’s rights protected by Islam and Constitution, the minister said that Islam empowered women with the most progressive rights since the 7th century but unfortunately, their rights are misinterpreted.

When Islam granted inheritance rights to women at that time the West had no idea of women’s inheritance rights, said the minister.

All the development projects would be planned according to principles of gender responsiveness in the Gender Unit, and the projects will not be approved without ensuring the interests of the women.

Speaking on the occasion, Secretary Planning Commission Syed Zafar Ali Shah, said that the campaign will help to create awareness among the masses to eliminate the cases of violence against women.

“The government is committed to empower the country’s women and the Gender Unit is one of the examples to empower the women,” he added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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