Islamabad: More than 200 people participated and demonstrated their commitment to Gender Equality with the media signing a Declaration for a National media partnership to promote women's empowerment, provincial Departments of Labour signing Memoranda of Understanding to establish Gender Units and the launch of a web portal, SPEAK, for employers and employees to share best practices of gender equality in the workplace.
More than 200 representatives from Government, employers, workers, service providers, civil society, academia, donors, UN agencies and media came together at a convention organised by the International Labour Organisation on 10 and 11 Oct. 2011, to celebrate the achievements of women in the world of work and pledge their commitment to promoting gender equality and decent work. The Convention showcased achievements and learning from the One-UN funded project Towards Gender Equality and the Canadian Government funded project Promoting Gender Equality for Decent Employment.
Speaking at the inaugural session, Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, Advisor to the Prime Minister on Human Rights, said that his government treats gender as a human rights issue and ensures that affirmative action is taken to provide social justice to men and women by working towards “competitiveness, productivity, growth of the economy, the creation of decent jobs and the employability for all”. He particularly thanked the ILO for assisting stakeholders in contributing to this goal.
The ILO and the Departments of Labour formalised their joint collaboration towards gender mainstreaming in the World of Work by signing MoUs to establish Gender Units under which the ILO will provide technical assistance. Speaking at the occasion, the Canadian High Commissioner, Mr. Ross Hynes said that this project reflected his country’s long standing and continuing commitment to gender equality and social and economic development in Pakistan. “Women’s Economic Empowerment can only be achieved by involving men in the process of change, hence all projects should effectively engage men and women in employment, decision-making and policy dialogue”, said High Commissioner Hynes.
Highlighting the importance of providing an enabling working environment, Alice Harding Shackelford, Country Director, UN Women said that “the potential of women and men can only be optimally utilized if their abilities, knowledge and skills are developed and that is only possible if special support mechanisms; policies and programmes are adopted that address the realities and needs of these women and men”.
Sessions with employers, employees and trainees of ILO projects revealed how each group had benefitted from gender equal policies in the workplace, though increased productivity, efficiency and job satisfaction. Participants reassured ILO’s position that gender equality in the world of work is not only a matter of human rights and justice for workers, but that it also makes good business sense for employers.
Senior media representatives also committed to promoting gender equality through gender sensitive reporting by signing a Declaration endorsed by over 130 women and men from the national media. Senior Media Experts including Javed Choudhry also attended the forum. Adnan Rehmat, media specialist highlighted that training media on labour rights and gender sensitive reporting was a priority, and that the proposed training programme for more than 800 journalists and newsroom staff across the country would go a long way towards achieving this goal. Salman Asif, Adviser to the United Nations reiterated the media’s role in as a promoter of and partner in women’s empowerment, “The media is recognised as an important development partner and the establishment of a National Media Partnership for Women’s Empowerment today is an important step towards further strengthening this link.”.
Moneeza Hashmi and Jamal Shah, while talking to women from unconventional professions including carpentry and cricket commentary, noted that their determination and support from government, employers and development projects have helped women overcome difficulties, achieve success and contribute to their families’ and communities’ development at par with men. Cartoonist, Akhtar Shah, famous for the Shahtoons drew live sketches portraying women in the world of work and reflecting some stereotypes that are present in our society. These sketches have graciously been presented to the ILO and are added to ILO’s pool of knowledge resources.
The Convention included live performances by Masood Khwaja and team who through comedy helped people mirror their false beliefs and reshape them appreciating the diverse roles that women play in the world of work. Other demonstrations include live cooking and experience sharing of women entrepreneurs and factory workers from across the country that the audience highly appreciated. A number of stalls displaying products and reports remained the centre of attraction for visitors.
For further information please contact:
Mr. Muhammad Saifullah Chaudhry, Senior Programme Officer
Tel: +92 51 227 6456-8, Ext 235