Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives, Professor Ahsan Iqbal on Friday announced to establish a national level-task force for the protection of women. He made this announcement while speaking at the concluding of the 16-day campaign against Gender-Based Violence (GBV), initiated by the Ministry of Planning Development & Special Initiatives while engaging their Young Development Fellows YDFs. The ceremony was attended by the Executive Director, the Higher Education Commission (HEC), Dr. Shaista Sohail, Vice Chancellor, Rawalpindi Women University (RMU) Dr Alina Kamal, Young Development Fellows (YDFs) of the Planning Ministry, students and civil society activities. The 16-day campaign was started on November 25 last month on International Day for the elimination of Violence against Women. On this Day, the Ministry also launched its Gender Unit to ensure that all the policies made under the auspices of the Planning Commission would take the gender perspective into consideration. Following the campaign, the YDFs attached to the ministry conducted seminars in various educational institutes to create awareness among the masses about the cybercrime laws, policies and violence against women. The representatives of the Federal Investigation Agency FIA, National Commission on the Status of Women NCSW and HEC took part in this campaign. “No country can progress without the active participation of women referring to the example of China and Bangladesh, which have given full representations to their women as a result they showed great progress in development,” said the Minister, while addressing the concluding of the campaign. The Minister also launched a booklet that spreads awareness over violence against women and pro-women laws in Pakistan that protect women’s rights. The booklet would be disseminated among all the universities in Pakistan through HEC. The booklet contains descriptions of all the pro-women laws introduced in Pakistan to provide guidance to women in Pakistan. The Minister regretted that in the past women were not given equal representation as a result the country could not progress. However, he said that now women’s participation is more in various fields, particularly in the education sector. The enrollment of female students is more as compared to the male students which is a positive sign, said the Minister, while highlighting the significance of women’s participation in the development of the country. According to the latest research report by the digital rights foundation, 40% of women in Pakistan have been victims of cyberbullying in the form of sexual harassment, blackmailing, hate speech, stalking, identity theft and physical threats. While highlighting the women’s rights protected by Islam, the Minister said that Islam is the only religion that empowered women by giving them equal rights. Lack of education is directly associated with violence against women but recent high-profile cases show that women in elite and educated circles suffer at the hands of educated and rich men, he added. Vice Chancellor, RWC Dr. Anila Kamal in her remarks appreciated the Ministry of Planning Commission for successfully completing this much-needed campaign which helped in creating awareness among the masses. RWU will continue to collaborate with the Ministry for creating awareness among the masses, she added. “We are committed to the cause of women’s education believing that it is the tool to fight GBV and make them economically independent,” remarked the VC.