As a part of the US – Pakistan Strategic Dialogue initiated in March, 2010 by US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmud Qureshi, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Melane Verveer and Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Social Sector Shahnaz Wazir Ali on Friday chaired a dialogue on women empowerment.
It was the first official dialogue between the US and Pakistan that focused on women’s development and empowerment to identify a common agenda and activities for both the countries to affirm their interest in empowering women and advancing women’s rights.
The Pakistan Government delegation presented the overall programme for women’s empowerment, which was appreciated by the US delegation.
The discussion encompassed a range of issues including exploring greater economic opportunities for women, political empowerment of women, addressing violence against women, provincial variations in the challenges and accomplishments for women and gender sensitisation of key judicial and law-enforcement agencies.
The initiatives which were discussed included potential next steps about developing a training programme for women local leaders at the union council levels to help support capacity building and leadership training, exploring the use of technology to improve the lives of women and girls, creating programs that seek greater economic opportunities for women’s technical training, entrepreneurial development, microfinance, access to domestic and international markets, and access to capital, and supporting institutional measures for relief and rehabilitation of women victims of violence and displacement.
The US delegation appreciated the government’s commitment to bring about progressive legislation for women.
These discussions were the eighth of the Strategic Dialogue working group meetings held earlier this month which included defense, energy, water agriculture, economics and finance, market access, science and technology.
Verveer and Ali along with delegation members also visited the Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Women Crisis Centre in Islamabad. US will provide Rs 2 million in support of the Centre’s most critical needs.