ISLAMABAD: Special assistant to the prime minister on social welfare Dr Sania Nishtar told a panel of Asian Development Bank that Pakistan had launched its comprehensive Ehsaas Programme aimed at alleviating poverty and ensuring socio-economic welfare of people with a special focus on women.

Ehsaas, she said, is a pioneering anti-poverty programme aimed to change this reality and ensure that all women no matter their background have the opportunity to succeed.

There are currently over 250 policies under the umbrella of Ehsaas, many of which are designed to specifically target women.

At its core, Ehsaas aims to lift the 7 million poorest women in Pakistan out of poverty and help them to achieve their potential.

In 2020, during Covid-19 pandemic, Ehsaas delivered 54pc emergency cash to deserving women.

Through Ehsaas Interest Free Loans programme in the National Poverty Graduation Initiative, 45pc women beneficiaries have been provided opportunities to build micro-enterprises.

With 50pc scholarships reserved for girls, Ehsaas Undergraduate Scholarship programme provides 200,000 need and merit-based scholarship over four years.

She said in Ehsaas primary education, and health and nutrition programmes, conditional cash transfers are being made to mothers and these include a higher stipend amount for girls as compared to boys.

The panel participants discussed that Covid-19 has wiped away a disproportionately higher share of women’s jobs, widening gender gaps in labour market access and increasing women’s vulnerability to poverty.

International experts and policy makers emphasised that Asia Pacific economies should address inequalities in women’s work to ensure a more inclusive ‘new normal’.

Published in Dawn, May 5th, 2021

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