16 more firms back Women Empowerment Principles

SIALKOT – The chief executive officers (CEOs) of 16 more exporting companies have signed the statement of support for “Women Empowerment Principles” collaboratively developed by UN Women and UN Global Compact.

An MoU was signed the companies – 13 from Sialkot, 2 from Faisalabad and 1 from Lahore at a  prestigious ceremony recently held at Sialkot under the auspices of UN Women Islamabad.

They pledged to protect the rights of female workers in their factories providing them with maximum facilities and job opportunities.

Earlier, the Sialkot based leading companied signed the statement of support “Women Empowerment Principles” during May 2015. The Sialkot industrial sector has made a great strike towards fostering culture of gender responsiveness in its corporate practices.

Addressing the participants, Provincial Secretary Labour and Human Resource Department Punjab Dr Farah Masood termed the popular attitude aiming at promoting gender inequality and mass mindset to promote male dominance as the major impediments thwarting the process of women’s empowerment in the country.

She emphasised that toils of the working women must never be undermined, instead they must be valued and respected by all in society, state and businesses. Women must be encouraged and supported to have self-confidence in their faculties and potentials for national development.  Women must be made aware of the rights promised by the law of the land and they should be provided with harassment free atmosphere so that they may substantially contribute to the advancement of the society. She emphasised the need of educating girls, setting up training-cum-works centres for women & girls, and sorting out the problems in their commuting from home to workplace to home. She specially advised the employers to respect rights of the women and protect them from every sort of infringement, to pay fair wages to them, to provide them with free of harassment working environment and to instill  in them the passion to do something constructive  for the society.

Addressing the participants of the ceremony, Deputy Country Representative UN Women in Pakistan Ms Sangeeta Thapa said that Pakistan is ranking intolerably high in global gender inequality index and female participation in labour has just touched the figure of 24.6%.

Estrangement of women workforce from the mainstream economic developing process is causing the seriously slow pace of GDP growth rate in the country, she said. She added that it is imperatively for mainstream national development that opportunities and space for social, economic and political empowerment be provided for women. She said that Sialkot industry’s commitment to support women empowerment is a right step in the right direction. It will open avenues for the social, economic and political empowerment of women not only in Sialkot but the whole country.

SCCI President said that it is highly regrettable that necessary facilities and enabling environment is not provided for the women for their development. He said that if Saudi Arabia is now getting ready to provide space and options to women to utilise their potentials for mainstream development, why it cannot happen in Pakistan at the optimum level and scale. He emphasised the need for enabling women to step forward for employing their optimum potentials towards national development.

Executive Director of Baidarie Prof Arshad Mehmood Mirza said that his NGO has been making continuous efforts to build knowledge of the home-based women workers on their basic rights, imparting them with training on income generating skills relevant to the professional requirements of the local market, development of entrepreneurship in women, provision of access to the markets, job placements of women and girls for their socioeconomic empowerment. He said all of these efforts are being carried out.

These efforts are succeeding in building morale of the women to speak for and secure their vital rights and bring plausible changes in their living and working pattern. This is also a process of transformation from industrial and business practices of male dominance to a culture of gender responsiveness.

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