United States Supports Launch of Pakistan Gender Coalition for Women's Rights and Equality
Islamabad | July 15, 2012
Ambassador Cameron Munter and his wife, Dr. Marilyn Wyatt, together with the Aurat Foundation, launched today the Pakistan Gender Coalition. The Pakistan Gender Coalition is a network of Pakistani civil society organizations, academic and research institutions, and media organizations working together to promote gender equity in Pakistan.
Addressing participants of the event, Ambassador Munter said, "Through this coalition, you will create a new force for positive change in Pakistan. While advocacy for women's rights and equal opportunities is a challenging task, you have the strong support of the U.S. government and the American people."
The event was attended by beneficiaries and representatives of more than 70 civil society organizations working on gender issues with funding from the USAID Gender Equity Program. Participants also included a number of Government of Pakistan officials, such as Tauqeer Fatima Bhutto, Minister for Women Development Sindh; Ghazala Gola, Minister for Women Development Balochistan; Farzana Yaqub, Minister for Women Development AJK; and Zakia Shahnawaz Khan Niazi, Advisor to the Chief Minister of Punjab.
At the launch, participants reviewed the nationwide baseline study on gender equity issues, conducted with U.S. funding by the Applied Economics Research Center (AERC), Karachi University, and AASA Consulting. The study analyzed the perceptions of Pakistani women and men about the prevalent household practices and the legal system. According to the study, a majority of Pakistanis strongly oppose violence against women. It also showed that 15 percent of women have< suffered from domestic violence and 1.5 percent complained about being sexually abused.
The launch event was organized by the five-year USAID Gender Equity Program, administered by the Aurat Foundation. This $40 million, five-year program aims to expand women's access to justice and human rights; increase women's knowledge of their rights and opportunities to exercise those rights; combat gender-based violence; and strengthen the capacity of Pakistani organizations that advocate for gender equity. As of July 2012, the program has provided 95 grants valued at $4.3 million to support women in crisis, the expansion of legal aid for women, research on gender-based violence, and the promotion of women's rights.