Gender Equity Program (GEP) organized the Grand Finale of the Seven Year USAID funded program for Gender Equity and Women Empowerment in Pakistan on August 3rd, 2017.
The event showcased achievements and advancements made through different thematic areas via a variety of stalls displaying products developed and services provided under the program. These stalls also displayed statistics pertinent to each of the thematic area.
The event was attended by USAID Mission Director and US Embassy official; Christina Tomlinson along with notable USAID representatives including, Amna Farasat, Farah Imran and Shehla Rizwan.
Honorable Guests were received by Mr. Younas Khalid Chief of Party, GEP and greeted by Mr Naeem A Mirza Executive director AF. They walked through the stalls related to GEP’s four objectives. The guests showed keen interest and expressed pleasure in learning how GEP had contributed towards breaking the barriers and implementing innovative techniques to bridge the gap existent in society by empowering women- changing their lives and changing the mindsets of Pakistanis at large.
Later, the program formally started with Pakistan’s national anthem followed by a welcome address by Mr. Younas Khalid. He reflected on GEP achievements and challenges faced in last seven years and shared that successes and leads for future progress in bringing behavioral change were far greater than the problems in implementing program were encountered. His brief presentation highlighted 13689693 direct and 49,800,169 indirect beneficiaries of GEP. He said that 475528 CNICs were issued to women under this program and 45,458 survivors of gender based violence were supported through different shelters and referral services provided under seamless service delivery hubs.
Ending his welcome note, he said that GEP closing marks a new beginning “AF is a movement which will continue till we achieve AF’s goal of a smiling, empowered Pakistani woman. A women who is aware of her rights and able to access justice system with ease; has equal economic rights, opportunities and access to resources”.
The welcome note was followed by 2 documentaries featuring; ‘journey of a new era’. The short documentary was an over view of GEP, how it started its journey, strategies adopted to implement the program followed by the diversity incorporated by GEP toward piloting innovative ideas and showing that ‘GEP was about taking difficult route and making things happen’ .
Another documentary was featured on Women Empowerment which showed multiple testimonies of GEP beneficiaries narrating how GEP’s support changed their lives. Both documentaries received immense applause and appreciation by the audience.
Acting Deputy Chief of Mission Cristina Tomlinson spoke on the occasion and said that GEP closing ceremony coincided with the 70th anniversary of Pakistan. She said that “For 70 years, America and Pakistan have worked together to advance our mutual interests including democracy, security, and economic development in Pakistan and the region.” She further added that for societies to thrive, women and girls must have equal opportunities for education, health care, and technology. They must have access to resources, lands, and markets. And they must have equal rights and equal opportunities as leaders, peace-builders, and breadwinners. She stated, “Gender equality and women’s empowerment cannot simply be a part of development – it must be at the center of development. Advancing the status of women and girls worldwide is not only the right thing to do, but the smart thing to do.”
Later, she congratulated GEP participants for its diligence in increasing women’s access to justice, furthering women’s empowerment by expanding their knowledge of their rights and opportunities, reducing gender based violence and improving the ability of Pakistani organizations to advocate for gender equity.
Mr. Naeem Mirza, Executive Director- Aurat Foundation, thanked USAID for their support. He thanked members of the national and provincial assembly, members of senate and representatives of different women development departments, Social welfare departments. He acknowledged their cooperation extended in working together with AF and USAID to bring desired difference in lives of Pakistani women and men.
He highlighted GEP achievements that transformed the institutions and lives of Pakistani women throughout the country while mainstreaming gender in programming government departments, public sector universities, bar councils, and judicial academies. He thanked all GEP partners and in his closing remarks said, that there could be no development, peace or happiness without equal participation of women.
Amidst presentations, documentaries and speeches; GEP team organized a Muppet theater led by renowned artist, Farooq Qaiser known as Uncle Sargam. The two Muppets depicted women’s distressing situation in Pakistan in satire and how GEP had positively contributed in showing a direction towards fulfilment.
The program ended with a scintillating performance by famous Pakistani pop singer, Shahzad Roy giving a tribute to women of Pakistan.
The event was attended by more than 350 participants from parliamentarians, politicians, Government departments both federal and provincial, UN agencies, International non-for profit organizations (INGOs), local NGOs, civil society activists and partner organizations.