ISLAMABAD: BISP Women Empowerment Advisory Forum on Thursday held its first meeting chaired by Minister of State and Chairperson BISP Marvi Memon to discuss policy guidelines for social, economic and political empowerment of BISP beneficiaries.
The advisory forum discussed a range of issues including gender policy, malnutrition, stunting, reproductive health, girl school enrollment, gender responsive curriculum, e-commerce, financial inclusion of women, workplace gender diversity and violence against women.The forum also suggested policy guidelines that will form basis of the social mobilisation campaign on women empowerment.
Ms. Marvi Memon stated that the goal of BISP is to empower women financially, socially and politically. “The feedback of this august forum and the curriculum designed consequently will help BISP educate its beneficiaries, thus leading to real human development in the country,” she said.
She said the access to the poorest women and presence of mobilisation forum to 50,000 Beneficiary Committees (BBCs) provides the potential and responsibility to work on the human development of its beneficiaries.
Director BISP Naveed Akbar said that the impact evaluations highlight enhanced mobility, increased participation by women in elections, enhanced school enrollment and financial empowerment of women as 74 percent of women retain full control over their stipend. He said that BISP has contributed towards reducing malnutrition but the rates are still alarming in the BISP community.
During session on health, Deputy Country Director World Food Program (WFP) Stephen Glunning said that social protection is a tool for women empowerment. He highlighted WFP commitments and called for widening partnership with BISP for the inculcation of nutrition practices beneficiaries through BBCs.
Fatima Akhtar from Nestle apprised the forum of recent collaboration with BISP will provide livelihood opportunities to beneficiaries and train them on nutrition. It was agreed that a working group on nutrition will develop a curriculum for BISP beneficiaries.
Country Director Population Council Zeba Sathar stated that BISP database is a goldmine that needs to be effectively utiliaed to address the reproductive health needs of the beneficiaries.
UNESCO Director Vibeke Jensen said that gender responsive curriculum, promotion of co-curricular activities, improvement of school environment and introduction of flexible timings can remove gender gap in education.
It was decided that in the pilot phase UNESCO, SAHI and UNICEF in collaboration with provincial education departments will choose a school from each of four provinces, Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, and introduce gender responsive curriculum that can then be replicated in the country.
Ms. Asma Sheikh gave an overview of TCS and the special job opportunities being provided to women through its ‘Project Aghaaz’. She also discussed the collaboration for e-commerce initiative of BISP.
The participants discussed ways to strengthen this collaboration so that economic opportunities for beneficiaries through sale of their products could be maximised. Country Representative UN Women Jamshed Qazi stated that it is high time to benefit from this initiative in the wake of agreement signed between Pakistan and China’s Alibaba Group.
Chairperson National Commission on Status of Women Khawar Mumtaz briefed on training BBCs against violence, and highlighted statistics on prevalence of violence in the country and the ways to curb the menace.
It was discussed that violence is the biggest barrier in the progress of women. Marvi Memon stressed upon the need to survey beneficiaries to find a baseline before educating them on violence. A working group was fomed to develop guidelines on the subject.