ISLAMABAD        -           Federal Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari on Saturday said government believes protection of women working in various professions is necessary for sustainable development and is committed to creating an enabling environment for female participation in the workforce.

She said this on National Working Women Day, adding that it is a symbol of recognition of the valuable contributions of female workers and leaders in various sectors in Pakistan.

The rights of women are protected by Islamic principles and enshrined in the Constitution of Pakistan.

She said Pakistan has ratified several International Human Rights Conventions concerning women, and is committed to meeting our obligations.

In this regard, a number of legislative and administrative measures have been taken by the federal and provincial governments to provide equal opportunities to women so that they can excel in all spheres of life.

She also highlighted that as a result of concerted efforts of the government, more than 200 women parliamentarians are playing a significant role in policymaking in Pakistan.

A significant proportion of women are also working in top positions in the public as well as private sector.

A 10 percent quota has been allocated for women in public sector jobs at the federal level. The Federal Ombudsman Secretariat for the Protection against Harassment of Women at Workplace at the federal and provincial level is also working to ensure a safe environment for working women in the country.

She also said that the Benazir Income Support Programme also provides a unique forum for female empowerment by providing cash transfers to vulnerable women so that they can have more agencies in terms of decision making in their lives.

Women empowerment policies, packages, helplines, working women hostels, vocational centres, day care centres are also important initiatives to increase ratio of working women in the work force.

Rabiya Javeri Agha, Secretary, Ministry of Human Rights  said in her message that the government, being cognizant of enormous challenges faced by working women, is committed to protect women from all kinds of exploitation and marginalisation; and to provide equal opportunities and an enabling environment to women for their participation in every sphere of life according to their capabilities.

She further highlighted that a number of steps, including pro-women legislation to create a conducive environment at the workplace, have been taken. The Ministry of Human Rights, in coordination with relevant federal and provincial departments, is undertaking a number of interventions proposed under the Action Plan for Human Rights to uplift the status of women. This includes a model policy on violence against women and girls, a policy for home based workers, as well as the establishment of a Helpline 1099 for legal advice, an endowment fund for free legal aid for poor victims, and a women protection centre for free legal and psychological aid.

She also mentioned that the Ministry of Human Rights has also launched extensive public awareness campaigns, trainings and capacity building programmes for lawyers, police and prosecutors to sensitise them about pro-women legislation.  A quota has been reserved at the federal and provincial level to mainstream women in the employment sector. In addition, hostels for working women and day care centres have also been established to facilitate and promote female employment.