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USAID’s gender equity program fosters educational empowerment for women

American Ambassador David Hale spoke on Thursday at an event sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Gender Equity Program to recognise the annual 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence held at the Islamabad Club.

The event brought together students, development workers, academics, and distinguished government officials from all over Pakistan to promote gender equality through stories, speeches, and theatre.

Ambassador Hale, in his remarks, addressed this year’s campaign theme – From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Make Education Safe for All.  “Education is crucial to lifting people out of poverty, improving living standards and quality of life, and reducing health and safety risks, but for many girls and women around the world, including Pakistan, it is difficult to have access to safe education. I am so pleased that the Pakistani government has made girls’ education a critical component of its national development strategy,” he added.

Naeem Mirza, chief operating officer at Gender Equity Program (GEP) implementing partner the Aurat Foundation, spoke about the programme’s work to assist survivors of gender-based violence, including provision of the legal services and emergency shelter.  He also informed audience members of the educational opportunities and job training that the programme provides will help women throughout Pakistan in order to achieve their academic goals and to fight patriarchal society’s shackles in corporate industry.

One of the highlights of the event was a team of artists from Lahore who performed a theatre piece themed 16 Days Activism campaign.  The beneficiaries of GEP’s support also shared their experiences, including Zonia Kanwal from Agricultural University Faisalabad, who said, “my area of research is socio-economic barriers and its effects on women empowerment.  I am delighted the scholarship I received from GEP will help me complete my research and meet my educational needs.”

The programme educates women about their rights at home, at work, and in society; it is working to expand women’s access to justice and human rights, while combating gender-based violence.

Source: Pakistan Today

Byline: Staff report

December 8, 2016

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