ISLAMABAD - Fiza Farhan from Pakistan has joined Members of the UN Secretary General’s High-Level Panel on Women Economic Empowerment in their second meeting to discuss how women of Latin America and the Caribbean can continue advancing economic empowerment while preserving the progress already made.

Costa Rica hosted the regional consultation on July 14, 2016, and was jointly supported by UN Women and the National Institute of Women of Costa Rica, said a news release issued by the UN Women here.

During her various meetings held over a 4-day period, 13-16 July 2016, Fiza showcased initiatives being undertaken in Pakistan to improve economic outcomes for women in the context of the Global Goals for Sustainable Development.

In localizing agreed global commitments of the first High-Level Panel meeting on March 15, 2016 in New York, Fiza shared that upon her return to Pakistan she joined hands with the provincial government of Punjab and UN Women in Pakistan with a “Call for Action Campaign” on key priorities accelerating women’s economic empowerment, and demonstrating how governments, businesses, civil society and development partnerships can work to achieve gender equality.

The “Call for Action Campaign” has five commitments engaging key players in Punjab and includes: Formalization of informal home based workers’ policy; Improving women participation in public sector jobs by 15%; Investing in gender sensitive infrastructure and capacity building; Engaging corporates/private sectors to invest in gender profitability and endorse women’s empowerment principles; and Engaging academia to promote women leadership, entrepreneurship and career counselling. This campaign also ‘steps up’ progress of Punjab’s “Women’s Empowerment Package” (launched in 2012 and reviewed by a Committee every International Women’s Day) to ensure fast-track its implementation.

During her series of meetings at the second High-Level Panel forum, Fiza showcased the progress made under the campaign and through the Punjab “Women’s Empowerment Package” in creating a nexus between economic, social, legal and political empowerment, with engagement of the Punjab government (including the Chief Minister), non-profit organizations, the private sector, civil society, UN agencies and media houses to further the women’s economic empowerment agenda in both rural and urban settings.

Progress made to date on enhancing local women’s economic empowerment was shared as: Allocation of Rs 9.2 billion to implement the package (the highest provincial budget allocation for women’s empowerment); the government’s renewed commitment to expedite the Home Based Workers Policy and Law; strengthened gender responsive infrastructure in the public sector with 54 day-care centres, 16 working women hostels and separate female and male toilets for working women; Launch of the first-ever “Punjab Gender Parity Report” by Punjab Commission on Status of Women; and UN Women’s support to 17 Punjab-based private sector companies to invest in gender profitability and adopt international quality standards of the UN-Women-UN Global Compact’s Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEP) - advocacy is ongoing with a further 10 companies to sign and adopt the WEP under the Call for Action campaign.

In further galvanizing high level commitment in Pakistan and promoting women’s leadership in driving economic growth, discussions are underway for Pakistan to host a global consultation on Women Economic Empowerment with partnership of UN Women, the Benazir Income Support Program and the corporate sector.