ISLAMABAD: A 100-day action programme to support girls’ education and women’s economic empowerment was launched here on Wednesday at Quaid-i-Azam University.

The programme was supported by the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Human Rights, and the World Bank Group.

The ‘Girls Learn, Women Earn’ (GLWE) initiative was launched with an evidence for policy-making conference in Islamabad.

Sessions focused on challenges and opportunities in eliminating learning poverty and increasing women’s economic empowerment.

The initiative highlights statistics that show that 55pc of Pakistan’s 22.5 million out-of-school children are girls and only 26pc of women are active in the country’s labour force. The 100-day campaign calls for awareness, advocacy and action on a national scale to address this, says a press release issued by World Bank.

“Girls and women are central to Pakistan’s long-term aspirations to become a prosperous country when it turns 100,” said Illango Patchamuthu, World Bank Country Director for Pakistan.

Minister for Education Shafqat Mahmood also addressed the ceremony.

The press release while explaining learning poverty said that three in every four children in Pakistan cannot read and understand a simple story by age 10, says a recent report from the World Bank.

The report highlights that learning poverty in Pakistan is at 75pc, which is substantially higher than the average in South Asia of 58pc.

The ‘Girls Learn, Women Earn’ conference concluded with a roundtable discussion on women’s participation in the labor force, led by Special Assistant to the Prime Minister and Chairperson of the Benazir Income Support Programme Dr Sania Nishtar.

The session focused on enabling women as a crucial aspect of inclusive growth, and on ways to provide more women with the education, skills, opportunities and environments to become contributing members of the economy.

Published in Dawn, December 12th, 2019