Islamabad - American Ambassador David Hale has praised the bravery and determination of Pakistani women at an event in Islamabad sponsored by the United States Agency for Development (USAID) to commemorate Pakistan’s National Women’s Day.
“Investing in women and girls not only promotes gender equality, it has a ripple effect on every aspect of society,” Ambassador Hale said.  “And no country can get ahead if it leaves half of its population behind,” he added.
During the event, Ambassador Hale recognised five “Women of Strength” for their contributions to gender equality in Pakistan.  Each of these women participated in USAID’s Gender Equity Program, which is the largest USAID program in Pakistan specifically supporting women’s empowerment. 
This $40 million, five-year programme, implemented by the Aurat Foundation, aims to improve women’s access to justice; expand economic opportunities for women; advocate for women’s social and political empowerment; support survivors of gender-based violence; and build the capacity of government and civil society to prevent, respond to, and eliminate gender-based violence.  Razia, an entrepreneur from Sindh, learned how to start her own local handicrafts business, which now employs other women from her village, through the Gender Equity Programme.  “I am now able to support my own family as well as other families in our community,” she said.  “My experience has made me more confident and courageous,” he added.