ISLAMABAD-One in 3 women in Punjab aged 15 to 64 years faces violence, according a survey released on Monday.

One in every 3 women in Punjab between 15 years and 64 years of age faced violence in different forms while women with disabilities experienced higher incidence of violence, said a survey report lunched by United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) on Monday. The UNFPA conducted the survey in cooperation with Bureau of Statistics and Punjab Commission on the Status of Women.

Under ‘Generating Data to Advance Women’s Economic and Social Wellbeing in Pakistan’ project, women across Punjab were interviewed on a wide range of economic and social indicators. The sample size was 32,000 households in 36 districts of the province.

According to the survey, women with disabilities experienced higher incidence of violence in the past 12 months. Around 53 percent of all young women with disabilities between ages 15 years to 64 years are not involved in education and employment. Inclusive policy and programming for women were the key highlights of the seminar.

Other key issues related to economic and social status of women according to the survey findings were also discussed. Key policy makers and stakeholders from federal and provincial governments were in attendance. While addressing on the occasion, chairperson Punjab Commission on the Status of Women Fauzia Viqar said that the women disabilities were specific focus of the survey as, she added, they were ever treated as a marginalized segment of the society. Country head DFID Joanna Reid said that the foundation believed passionately that women’s empowerment and participation were critical for building a prosperous Pakistan.

“This survey tells us we have a long way to go – there are barriers in society and in the ways women feel about themselves. I hope these data will help government, communities, families and women to build a more inclusive Pakistan where women are treated as and feel like equals”, she hoped.

UNFPA, Representative in Pakistan, Lina M Mousa said that purpose of the study was ‘to contribute to enhancing gender equality and reproductive health/rights of women in Pakistan. UNFPA has been working, over the past 40 years, with the government, civil society organizations, and donor community to promote reproductive health and reproductive rights, gender equality and empowerment of women and girls.

This survey is a result of this partnership, to provide evidence and baseline data to inform policies, legislations and programmes to protect women and girls from sexual and gender based violence.”

In her address on the occasion, Parliamentary Secretary Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform, Punjab, Kanwal Shauzab reaffirmed commitment to taking forward the recommendations presented by the seminar participants for informing policies and programming. “Pakistan has made progress towards creating an enabling environment to empower women and promote their economic, social and political rights, through progressive legislations, policies and interventions”, Shauzab recalled.  While recognizing the proactive stance of the federal and provincial governments in ensuring women’s constitutional rights, parliamentarian said that entrenched socio-cultural norms, inadequate resources and implementation mechanisms, adding that lack of data undermine these efforts with resulting gender disparities in education, employment, training, and health among other areas.