ISLAMABAD  - President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani has reiterated their government’s resolve to continue with endeavours to protect women’s rights.

In their separate messages on International Women’s Day, they said the democratic government was committed to materialising Benazir Bhutto’s dream of empowering women. President Zardari said his government would continue fight for women’s rights.

Gilani mentioned the recent legislations passed by the Parliament, including Women’s Protection from Harassment at Workplace Act 2010, Amendment in PPC 509, Acid Crime Prevention Act 2011, Prevention of Anti-Women Practices Act 2011 and Fund for Women in Distress and Detention Act 2011.

“These measures are reflective of the government’s commitment and sincere efforts to address women-related issues for their greater participation in the national mainstream,” he said, adding that recently, the National Commission on the Status of Women had been empowered through an act.

He said the commission will be an autonomous body with more administrative and financial powers, which will enable it to play its mandated role effectively. He said the International Women’s Day, reminds of the heroic struggle waged by women’s rights activists against the anti-women policies and for restoration of women rights. “It also provides us with an opportunity to acknowledge the social, economic and political accomplishments of women in different walks of life,” he said.

Gilani said the participation of womenfolk is imperative for socio-economic development of a state. He said no headway can be made without their visible and active participation.

He said this year’s theme “Empowerment of Rural Women – End Hunger and Poverty” calls for level playing field for rural women.

He said the government fully acknowledges the fact that the women in rural areas are contributing to national economy in diverse ways.

“Their (women’s) role needs to be both recognized and their participation in informal economy should be documented to craft policies for their welfare and empowerment,” he said.

Gilani mentioned Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), saying it aimed at empowering the rural women economically. He said Waseela-e-Haq, Waseela-e-Rozagar and Waseela-e-Sehat are other major facets of BISP, which are serving for economic empowerment of rural women.

He said in recognition of the services of women, the government had declared October 5 as National Day for Rural Women.

Day of Working Women is observed each year on February 12 to pay tribute to their contributions to the national development, he added.

He hoped that the provincial governments would make all out efforts for the cause of women in a more proactive manner.