KARACHI, Jan 21 (APP):Parliamentarians and senior government officials Tuesday emphasized that investing in women, including women home-based workers (HBWs), was crucial to accelerate economic advancement and help overcome economic challenges being faced by the country.

They also pledged to take up pending work on legislation for empowering HBWs in their provinces as top priority.

Around 16 members of provincial assemblies, including provincial ministers, and 15 senior government officials, including provincial secretaries of Women Development, Labour and Human Resource departments from Sindh, Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Balochistan participated in a two-day inter-provincial exchange of experience on the economic empowerment of HBWs in Pakistan that concluded on Tuesday.

The event was organized by UN Women Pakistan in collaboration with Women Development Department (WDD) and Sindh Commission on Status of Women (SCSW).

KP Minister for Information Shaukat Yusufzai, while speaking as chief guest in the concluding session, said education had a key role in enabling women to advance in the society, and grow socially and economically.

He said in KP, 70 per cent of the education budget was allocated for girls education, which was testament to their commitment to empower women in the province.

He said the KP’s Women Empowerment Policy envisioned economic empowerment of women as an important area of work.

He said labour laws in the province had provisions for women protection against discrimination of all sorts. “We have taken tangible steps to encourage women participation in workforce and income generating activities which in turn will not only empower them but also improve the economic indicators of our province.”

Chairperson Gender Mainstreaming Committee of the Provincial Assembly of Punjab Uzma Kardar said, “Gender mainstreaming does not mean only the financial inclusion of women in workforce, but women representation should be at par with men representation at decision-making level.”

Chairperson Sindh Commission on the Status of Women (SCSW) Nuzhat Shirin said, “I believe investing in HBWs can help accelerate progress and steer our country out of economic challenges.”

Deputy Country Representative Aisha Mukhtar, in her closing remarks, said during the two days, they learned about many emerging issues like women and climate change as well as inclusive strategies to empower the most marginalized groups such as HBWs and transgender persons.

“We will continue to support both Labour and Human Resource Departments (LHRD) and WDD and our elected representatives to promote women’s empowerment,” she said.

Secretary WDD Sindh Alia Shahid, Secretary WDD Balochistan Saira Atta and Deputy Secretary WDD Punjab Waqar Ahmed gave presentations on the work their departments were doing for the protection and social and economic empowerment of women including women HBWs in their respective provinces.