ISLAMABAD: The National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW) held a coordination meeting to share with participants some of its recent achievements and discuss how to strengthen communication around the critical work it was doing.

NCSW Chairperson Nilofar Bakhtiar spoke on the recent unprecedented success in women’s economic empowerment, saying: “For the first time, NCSW was included in the PSDP and we have had two projects approved in the PSDP that are both very significant for women’s empowerment”.

She added: “The first project is the Prime Minister’s Women on Wheels initiative for which funding for 22,000 scooties has been approved. Under the programme, there are 4,000 scooties for each province and Islamabad and 1,000 each for GB and AJK. Every woman between the age of 18 and 55 years who earns between Rs30,000 and Rs150,000 will be eligible for this. The financing will be available through banks and the government will subsidise half of the cost so that the monthly installment will be approximately Rs4,000. This programme will be implemented by NCSW entirely and I promise the women of Pakistan that this will be completely transparent and done through balloting.”

The second project is for building 440 daycare centres in government tertiary care hospitals and universities.

The centres will be open to all women but they will especially facilitate women doctors and nurses who are unable to work once they have children.

“We will be providing the equipment, furniture and staff for the centres while the brick mortar space will be provided by the institutions where they will be housed,” she added.

NCSW Secretary Khawaja Imran Raja said: “We have made steering committees with all the relevant stakeholders to bring these projects to fruition and will have independent project management units who can ensure that they run effectively. We are also making a digital app for monitoring and complaint tracking/redressal.”

He gave an overview of the objectives of the commission and said: “Established in 2000 by statute, the NCSW is the outcome of the national and international commitments of Pakistan. The vision of the commission is a democratic, just, peaceful and tolerant society where diversity is celebrated.”

He said the NCSW was a promoter, facilitator, coordinator, sustainar, custodian and advocate of an empowering national narrative and discourse on the status of women and women’s rights.

Recent publications by the NCSW were shared with the participants, including the Strategic Plan 2022-25 which was conceived through a consultative process to establish the commission’s direction. There were also a report and recommendations on the Covid-19 impact on women, climate equity: women as agents of change and digitisation and women in Pakistan.

The commission has also made a national gender data portal which is an authentic source of information containing both publications and articles as well as data sets.

Ms Bakhtiar while talking to media said: “My wish is that you own NCSW. We are doing a lot of work, a lot of activities but we do not get the requisite space in media which is essential. I cannot express how many segments of women and marginalised groups look to us to support their causes – be it nurses or stewardesses, transgender communities or students. Our cause is national, universal and without the support of the media the results are halved.”

Published in Dawn, July 11th, 2023

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