ISLAMABAD - "Women already playing a key role in Pakistan's economy and strengthening their role in energy sector will create a real difference in national prosperity," said Craig VanDevelde, Chief of Party of United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Power Distribution Program, at a gender equity workshop organized by the USAID to reinforce the role of women in the energy sector.

He said that women's equality is a prerequisite for the development of any country. The national economy is experiencing important losses because of low participation of women in the economy and this also makes women heavily dependent on their families.

Development of a gender equity strategy for operations in the areas of employment and career development, recruitments and treatment in a work place in DISCOs is a cross-cutting initiative of USAID Power Distribution Program," Craig VanDevelde added.

He said with inflation spiking to 12.7 percent against the 1.4 percent it has been for the past seven years, the single salary of the earning male member can no longer feed a family, thus necessitating women in the professional workforce. It is becoming imperative to double the number of the female workforce at a rapid pace; in order to achieve this missed opportunities for women must be identified. Further to this it is incumbent to pave the way for improvement of the working environment vis-à-vis gender balance, and instill an atmosphere that accepts women as assets and resources, he added.

The USAID Power Distribution Program is currently holding Gender Equity Training sessions at all Government-owned Power Distribution Companies (DISCOs) of Pakistan. These trainings are in line with the Constitution of Pakistan, which discourages discrimination on the basis of sex and allow for measures to ensure the total participation of women in all spheres of economic life. These trainings will also uplift fundamental freedoms of women in every field, bringing the status they hold if not in parallel to, then close to that held by men, serving as a positive measure in eliminating discrimination against women.