ILO’s Promoting Gender Equality for Decent Employment (GE4DE) project successfully concluded

The closing event of ILO’s national project “Promoting Gender Equality for Decent Employment (GE4DE)” as they recounted the successes and achievements of the project as well as the key lesson learnt during this journey.

Press release | Islamabad, Pakistan | 31 October 2016
ISLAMABAD (ILO news): Today Pakistani women have greater access to equal employment opportunities and decent working conditions in different sectors of economy. Moreover, the understanding among stakeholders on working women’s issues has increased and they have developed favourable attitudes towards those issues.

These observations were made by the speakers at the closing event of the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO’s) national project “Promoting Gender Equality for Decent Employment (GE4DE)” as they recounted the successes and achievements of the project as well as the key lesson learnt during this journey. The six-year GE4DE project was implemented with the support of Canadian government was concluded on 31st October 2016.

The closing event was an opportunity to disseminate the project results; best practices; relevant approaches; and the lessons learnt to a wider group of stakeholders and solicit their valuable inputs for future course of action.

The proceedings of the event had started with the screening of GE4DE documentary and welcome address by the ILO Country Director Ms Ingrid Christensen. Talking to the audience, she highlighted the role of the ILO in promoting actions to end all types of discrimination and promoting gender equality in the world of work. She underlined the importance of partnerships, which with the Canadian support had enabled the ILO constituents and other stakeholders in joining hands to help project achieve the goals. The success of the project is the result of joint achievements

The Employer Federation of Pakistan (EFP) representative Mr Fasihul Karim Siddiqui, lauded the ILO project and said stereotypes on gender had been broken and glass ceilings shattered through the focused gender related interventions of this project. He reiterated that the EFP had partnered with the project in promoting that workplace be free of harassment and due to the significant and relevant work, effective and collaborative partnerships had emerged between the employers, workers and government who jointly had in harmony to promote gender empowerment and create synergies. He also reiterated the need of continuing such interventions in Pakistan not only by the ILO but also by other UN and donor agencies, to create decent work for women in Pakistan and the subsequent projects should build on the achievements of this project.

The Pakistan Workers’ Federation (PWF) representative Mr Qazi Tanveer said that he was very satisfied and happy to report that the Federation in cooperation with the GE4DE Project had been able to not only strengthen the women’s participation in the trade unions but had also got them elected in the leadership roles . He referred to a number of milestones achieved by the PWF with the support of the project including establishment of the domestic workers’ union; training of women workers in the area of paralegal and leadership roles and addressing sexual harassment at the workplace.

Mr Neil Buhne, the Resident Coordinator of the UN in Pakistan, appreciated the role of the ILO and Canada in creating an enabling environment for the women of Pakistan. He said that working on gender equality remained one of major areas for the UN community. He said that the ILO had added advantage due to its close relations with the key players of the labour market in Pakistan. He acknowledged that the project has managed to create many sustainable mechanisms and systems at national, provincial and organizational level which would be expected to continue serving working women and men of Pakistan. He suggested to the fellow UN colleagues, Government of Pakistan, Employers, Workers and civil society to bank upon the good practices of the project to reduce widespread gender equality in the work force.

Ms Atifa Raffat, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development (MOPHRD) highlighted the importance and impact of GE4DE project and acknowledged that the project had supported over 11,000 women and men from disadvantaged backgrounds to secure decent work after imparting them the required skills and trainings. She said it was praiseworthy that the project had assisted its constituents to establish and strengthen national mechanisms by mainstreaming gender in their systems policies, plans and programmes. “Gender units in all provincial departments of labour have now emerged as gender champions, enabling the provincial governments to draft new gender responsive policies for the workers in the informal economy,” she added.

Mr Daniel Joly, Head of Aid, High Commission of Canada in Pakistan appreciated the achievements of the project. He noted that increasing women’s participation at the labour market is a matter of democracy and social justice. But in addition, it is equally important to consider that “Equality is not a threat. It is an opportunity”, as Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has rightfully affirmed." He said Canada has been working for development, hand in hand with Pakistan, since 1950s and would continue to do so.

A fashion show where beautiful dresses designed by the beneficiaries of the project were showcased followed by a performance by renowned singer Ms Sara Raza Khan who delivered a song especially composed and written for this occasion. The lyrics hinted at how lives of project beneficiaries had changed and how they had transformed into an asset from a liability. Moreover, kiosks had also been set up to display the garments, dry fruits and it’s by products, edibles etc prepared by the GE4DE project beneficiaries.

Ms Sania Saeed was the host of the event who also launched the PTV talk show “Zamana Mera Hay” and showcased the publication of GE4DE success stories-a journey of thousands miles begins with a single step which was followed by a panel discussion where project beneficiaries highlighted the process they went through during this six yearlong journey.