ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister of State and BISP Chairperson, Marvi Memon, has recently said that Pakistan will continue to support UN habitat’s new urban agenda for sustainable urbanisation. Marvi represented Pakistan as the head of the NDI delegation in the Global Women’s Leadership Program, held at the third session of the Preparatory Committee for UN Habitat 3 at Surabaya Indonesia. “Habitat 3” is the third United Nations Conference being organised by the Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, which will take place in October 2016. In her statement in the opening plenary session, Memon stated that Pakistan has made commendable efforts towards the implementation of Habitat – II Agenda, ever since the second United Nations Conference on Human settlements (Habitat – II) was held in Istanbul in 1996. She also highlighted that Pakistan was one of the most urbanised nations in South Asia. The urban population has increased tremendously from 43.0 million in 1998 and is further expected to become predominantly urbanised by the year 2025. She said that Pakistan had launched its Vision 2025, a perspective plan, which already has implications for managing urbanisation as well as changing urban demography in line with UN-Habitat New Urban agenda. She also maintained that Pakistan is already committed to making Pakistan’s growing cities safer, sustainable, economically productive and equitable for its vulnerable populations in both rural and urban areas. She also mentioned the recently-taken government initiatives of establishing low-cost housing schemes under Prime Minister’s Apna Ghar Scheme in Punjab and pursuing a fast development of its Integrated Mass transit System, Metro Bus and Metro-rail in major cities. She reiterated that Programs like Benazir Income Support Program (BISP), Pakistan’s largest social safety net for the poorest women living in rural and urban Pakistan, are highly critical for this New Urban Agenda. “Being the only custodian of the gender issues and women empowerment, BISP will be key to ensuring gender equity whilst cities develop in Pakistan,” she added. Several initiatives like microcredit interest-free loans and BISP E-commerce are also empowering women in the rural and urban spaces, Memon asserted. She further said, “Creating safer and violence free urbanisation especially for the vulnerable women is a key challenge for Pakistan which BISP through its advocacy will manage well in coordination with the provinces and federal ministries like Finance, Planning & Development, Foreign Affairs, Climate Change, Housing and Works and PM Youth Program.