Gender equality promotes social justice and sustainable development, says Dr. Arshad Mahmood

The Employers Federation of Pakistan (EFP) hosted a momentous event ahead of International Women’s Day, marking the launch of the EFP Gender Equality Policy Guidelines and honoring 40 organizations for their commitment to fostering gender-inclusive workplaces and empowering women. The ceremony, held at Karachi, witnessed the participation of over 200 guests, including representatives from employers, workers, development partners, and government officials.

Dr. Arshad Mahmood, Federal Secretary of the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development, graced the occasion as the Chief Guest. In his address, he emphasized the pivotal role of gender equality in promoting social justice and ensuring sustainable development. He reiterated the government’s unwavering commitment to women’s empowerment and gender equality, highlighting ongoing initiatives and programs aimed at creating an enabling environment for women to overcome barriers hindering their economic participation. He also appreciated the proactive role of EFP in promoting decent work especially the development of the Gender Equality Policy Guidelines and the establishment of Pakistan Business Disability Network and National Skills Passport.

Geir Tonstoel, Country Director of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Country Office Islamabad, emphasized the ILO’s commitment to promoting equal opportunities for men and women in the workplace. He commended EFP for its proactive approach in developing gender equality policy guidelines and urged member organizations to adopt measures conducive to fostering workplaces free from discrimination and violence.

President EFP, Malik Tahir Javaid, underscored the significance of gender equality and women’s empowerment in his welcome remarks. He expressed gratitude to stakeholders, including ILO, GIZ, and UNICEF, for their support in organizing the event and developing the policy guidelines. He applauded member organizations for their dedication to promoting gender equality and congratulated awardees for their exemplary practices.

Ms. Faiza Zia, Economic Cooperation & Private Sector Development Advisor, GIZ emphasized the significance of such gatherings and stressed the ongoing necessity for sustained dialogue between employers and policymakers. She highlighted GIZ’s active involvement in multiple initiatives aimed at enhancing the economic engagement of women through a holistic social and economic approach.

Syed Nazar Ali, Secretary-General of EFP, unveiled the EFP Gender Equality Policy Guidelines during the event. This comprehensive guideline is designed to assist organizations committed to creating inclusive workplaces, featuring key areas of focus and a checklist of recommended best practices aligned with national regulations and international standards, including relevant ILO Conventions. The introduction of this pivotal document was met with applause from government officials and social development partners.

Mr. Nazar also announced the winners of the EFP Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Awards. With over 50 companies submitting applications for the contest, a rigorous evaluation by the Evaluation Committee, which included esteemed members such as Ms. Mehnaz Kaludi, Director of the EFP Board, Ms. Caroline Bates from the ILO, Ms. Kiran Zubair, Member of the Provincial Government Steering Committee for Business and Human Rights, and Ms. Tazeen Mohsin, Organizational Clinical Psychologist and EFP Advisor, resulted in 40 companies meeting the stringent criteria and securing positions in the Diamond, Gold, and Silver categories.

 The event marked a pivotal step towards creating gender-inclusive workplaces and fostering sustainable development in Pakistan. EFP remains committed to advancing the agenda of gender equality and invites stakeholders to collaborate in creating an inclusive society for equitable growth.

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