Women Development Department (WDD) Balochistan, in collaboration with UN Women Pakistan, launched the Provincial Gender Equality and Women Empowerment Policy (2020-2024) here on Thursday. The policy was approved by the Provincial Cabinet earlier in the month of October. Addressing the launching ceremony, which coincided with the commemoration of International Human Rights Day and culmination of 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence (GBV), the Chief Minister Balochistan Jam Kamal Khan said that the approval and launch of the policy reaffirms the commitment of the provincial government towards advancing gender equality and the empowerment of women in the province. The launch event was attended by parliamentarians, provincial government officials, members of civil society, representatives from UN and donor agencies and media. The Chief Minister said, “Today is an important day for the women of Balochistan. Effective implementation of this policy, which provides a guideline to all departments, will help uplift the status of women in the province.” Jam Kamal added that anti-harassment cells have been established at district level across the province to ensure women work in harassment free environment. “For the first time in the history of Balochistan, numerous Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) schemes have been initiated to empower women of Balochistan,” he said while adding, “The provincial government is committed to ensure equal rights for women and we are in the process of finalizing the Heirship Law and other pro-women legislations.” Addressing the launch event, Chief Secretary Balochistan Capt. (r) Fazeel Asghar, said “I want to congratulate the Women Development Department for the formal launch of Gender Equality and Women Empowerment Policy, and hope that this policy will contribute to the social, economic and political empowerment of women as well as enhancing the leadership role of women in humanitarian crisis.” Secretary WDD, Bilal Jamali said, “Women Development Department endeavours to protect women from violence and provides them with the opportunities to contribute in the development of the province. The GEWE Policy has been re-aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with an extensive review by the WDD and technical expertise provided by UN Women.” He informed the audience that work on approved PSDP schemes for the year 2020-21 was underway including women business incubation centres, women bazars in Quetta, Khuzdar, Kharan, Loralai, and Gwadar, and working women hostel for single women and women with families at divisional headquarters of Balochistan, while already established shelter homes in Quetta, Khuzdar and Sibi were providing services for women survivors of violence. “Through Women Economic Empowerment Council, WDD is extending and creating avenues for women to take advantage of economic opportunities.” Addressing the event, Head of UN Women Sub Office Balochistan, Ayesha Wadood highlighted the significance of the pro-women Legislative reforms for Balochistan province and also briefed the audience about the normative work of UN Women Pakistan to help federal and provincial governments deliver on country’s national and international commitments towards advancing gender equality. She said, “Gender equality and women’s rights are fundamental to global progress, peace and security, human rights and sustainable development.