SAARC-level women’s meet under way

Kathmandu, January 25

A two-day South Asian Regional Conference ‘Weaving the Web’ began in Kathmandu today.

Addressing the opening session, Secretary General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation Amjad Hussain B Sial said, “Since the promotion of women’s welfare and empowerment is at the forefront of SAARC’s agenda, we greatly value the holding of this Conference to strengthen partnerships among women in the region.”

The conference, which is organised by Sankalpa – Women’s Alliance for Peace, Justice and Democracy – has brought together eminent women representatives from South Asian countries to discuss measures to promote the welfare of women in order to bring them into the mainstream of socio-economic development.

The secretary general said SAARC was a regional organisation created primarily to promote the welfare of the peoples of this region. “As women constitute almost 50 per cent of the region’s population since the inception of SAARC, South Asian leaders have underscored the need to bring them into the mainstream of socio-economic development. Their unequivocal resolve to empower women culminated in the adoption of the SAARC Social Charter, which incorporates a broad range of targets to be met for women’s social and economic emancipation,” he said.

Besides the SAARC Social Charter, he shed light on SAARC’s several other inter-governmental mechanisms dealing with the promotion of the status of women. They include Ministerial Meetings on Women; Technical Committee on Women, Youth and Children; SAARC Gender Policy Advocacy Group; and Regional Convention to combat trafficking of women and children for prostitution. He stated that SAARC also collaborated with several UN Specialised Agencies, including UNWomen, in promoting women’s welfare and empowerment.

Highlighting the importance of education in empowering women, the secretary general said, “The first and foremost prerequisite is the education of our girls that will certainly be a catalyst for socio-economic development, improvement in the quality of life and poverty reduction.” He said educated women would be able to play even greater role in all walks of life, including at senior policy-making levels.  “The powerful tool of education will help in mainstreaming of women and making them economically empowered and financially independent,” Sial added.