Pakistan launch of COL’s Empowering Girls and Women Project

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The launch of the Empowering Women and Girls (EWG) project in Islamabad, Pakistan, on 14 March 2024, was met with great enthusiasm. This multi-year project was made possible with the financial support of Global Affairs Canada.

COL is partnering with the Society for the Protection and Rights of Children (SPARC) and BEDARI to provide skills training in a hybrid mode to approximately 21,000 women and girls to create sustainable livelihoods. The project is designed to help alleviate poverty while promoting gender equality in rural, remote and disadvantaged communities in the Khushab, Bhakkar, Multan, Peshawar, Rawalpindi and Islamabad districts over the next three years. Furthermore, 5,000 men and boys will be actively engaged in various training interventions to ensure that they have the potential to promote gender equality in their communities and help contribute to changing discriminatory social norms.

The event was attended by more than 60 participants – including representation from Canada’s High Commission for Pakistan – along with a wide range of stakeholders comprising community leaders, government officials, international development partners, and representatives from TVET institutions. During the roundtable discussion, attendees expressed support for the project and extended collaboration invitations to SPARC and BEDARI.

Ms Alicia Sosa Lerin, First Secretary (Development) High Commission for Canada in Pakistan, remarked, “Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment drive Global Affairs Canada, and we look forward to the next three years. I am happy to see the inclusion of persons with disabilities (PWDs) and that the project will work towards ensuring spaces are safe and friendly to them.”

Ms Asiya Arif Khan, the Executive Director of SPARC, stressed the value of collaborative endeavours among communities, government stakeholders, diplomatic circles, the private sector and international non-governmental organisations in overcoming barriers and bridging gender gaps, asserting that the project is the right step towards a more gender-inclusive Pakistan.

Ms Anbreen Ajaib, the Executive Director of BEDARI, pointed out, “The project launch brought so many stakeholders and collaboration opportunities together. This will help us to think out of the box while empowering women and girls in the project districts.”

Ms Frances Ferreira, the Senior Adviser for Women and Girls at COL, applauded the community leadership for their involvement and support in realising this ambitious project, stating, “It is only through partnerships and collaboration that we can transform our communities. I am very pleased to have observed that community leaders, project partners, government institutions, civil society organisations and financial institutions are working towards achieving this goal.”

In closing, the collective efforts and dedication of COL, its partners, community leaders, government officials, and various organisations, with their shared vision for gender equality, will be instrumental in advancing the EWG project and paving the path for a more inclusive and equitable society.

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