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Procter & Gamble (P&G) Pakistan has reinforced its commitment to promoting gender equality in the country through the WeSeeEqual Dialogue, aimed to spark conversations and motivate change to build a better world for everyone.

Held in partnership with UN Women Pakistan, the P&G WeSeeEqual Dialogue brought together business and government leaders as well as influencers to share inspiration and discuss challenges that are preventing individuals and society from accelerating the progress of gender equality in the country. The event held here at a local hotel on Wednesday.

The panel speakers included Sami Ahmed, Vice President P&G Pakistan, Fareeha Ummar, Portfolio Manager, Women's Economic Empowerment and Sustainable Livelihood, UN Women Pakistan, Javed Jabbar, former Federal Minister and Senator, as well as Samina Baig, UNDP National Goodwill Ambassador and President, Pakistan Youth Outreach Foundation.

Sharing his thoughts, Sami Ahmed, Vice President, P&G Pakistan, said, "We are pleased to continue our work to create an inclusive, gender-equal environment within P&G, while advocating for gender equality externally as well, so that everyone can contribute to their full potential."

The panelists shared their perspectives on different aspects of gender equality including the need to promote women's economic empowerment with a view to benefit the society and the role that media and advertising can play to help raise awareness and break gender-biased stereotypes.

They also expressed their views regarding the myths that are holding us back from equal representation in leadership and the workplace, highlighted the importance of men as advocates for the cause of Gender Equality and stressed a call to action, as every person, every day, can be an agent of change - individually and collectively.

Fareeha Ummar also expressed her views, "UN Women Pakistan is committed to engaging with the private sector to drive change that advances women's equality and economic empowerment. We believe that the time is now to back up our words via action. We hope that the corporate sector will play its role for a socially accountable and gender responsive private sector who thinks, acts and impacts gender equality in their companies, in the market-place and in the community."

Through its social cause programs, P&G has partnered with UN Women and Health Oriented Preventive Education (HOPE) for women's skill-development and girls' education. In collaboration with HOPE, 10,000 women and girls (over 3-year period) are to receive vocational training and quality secondary education in semi-urban/rural areas such as Badin, Sujawal, Thatta, Gadap, Ghagger, and Muzaffargarh. Five centres have been established so far, reaching over 6000 women and girls. In partnership with UN Women Pakistan, so far 52 women have received skill development and financial literacy trainings, enabling them to setup small-scale business ventures in Sialkot.

Javed Jabbar said, "Women's struggle for equality and justice in virtually every sphere began thousands of years ago. While progress has been achieved in some areas and we have many inspirational examples of women leaders across the world and in Pakistan, there is still a great effort to be made to reduce the gender gap." He added, "Conversation is vital because it can help change mindsets."

Pakistan is currently ranked 151 (out of 153) on the World Economic Forum's Gender Gap Index and the overall literacy rate amongst girls in the country is 46 percent compared to 71 percent amongst men.

Only one-quarter of women participate in the labour force whereas, only 5 percent of senior and leadership roles are held by women. P&G's commitment to Gender Equality is in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal No 5 - to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

Javed Jabbar however rejected the WEF's ranking, saying Pakistan has been misrepresented. He said he is going to write to the WEF on the issue.

In partnership with Health Oriented Preventive Education (HOPE) and READ Foundation, P&G has provided quality education to nearly 4000 girls from underprivileged communities in Pakistan.

The event, moderated by Sidra Iqbal, was attended by foreign mission representatives, corporate and business leaders, government representatives, media professionals, civil society leaders, intelligentsia, and P&G employees.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020