Islamabad: Rawalpindi will soon have an exclusive Polytechnic Institute for Women, as the Punjab government has acquired land from this purpose near Adiala Road and plans to completeconstruction work within one year.

Technical Education and Vocational Training Authority (TEVTA) Deputy Manager Muhammad Shanawar shared the good news with local women leadership at an ‘Awareness Raising andNetworking Meeting for 50 Women Leaders Group (WLG), Rawalpindi District’ on Tuesday. The event was organised by the Aurat Foundation.

He said that the institute will start functioning from the next year and will offer all kinds of technical education for women. “For this purpose, the Punjab government has procured 100-kanal land near Adiala Road from the Forest Department,” he added.

Responding a query, he said that the TEVTA is running 418 training institutes in Punjab with around 27 functioning in Rawalpindi. “Among these 27 institutes, 13 are for women where they learn vocational skills and get various kinds of training,” he added.

The participants urged TEVTA to improve the capacity of trainers and demanded decrease in the tuition fee while terming it unaffordable for the poor community. They said that those who can afford fees tend to enrol their children in private institutions. They also recommended that scholarships should be given to deserving students.

The 50 Women Leaders Group is part of an international initiative ‘Raising Her Voice’ by Oxfam GB currently working in 17 developing countries. The initiative is a collection of projects aimed at taking into account the local voices, realities and opportunities.

In Pakistan, the overall goal of the project is to strengthen the role of poor and marginalized womenin the governance thereby promoting accountability for gender equality and women empowerment to achieve pro-poor development for the women and the wider society.

By establishing groups of 50 women leaders in 30 selected districts, the project seeks to ensure strong relationship between grassroots groups and women entering political processes to ensure that women elected to office adopt positions that highlight and address poverty-related issues. The initiative was launched in the year 2008 and will continue till 2013.

Under the project, a total of 1,500 women were selected (50 each) from 30 project districts in the initial two years. These women represent local governments, government institutions concerned, representatives of social welfare ministries, education departments, health departments and womencadre of civil society organizations. Female students of secondary and tertiary education institutions, media personal and bar associations also make part of these groups.

Speaking on the occasion, ‘Raising Her Voice’ initiative Programme Manager John Cropper said that change is important at every level. “Instead of focusing only on national level initiatives, it was equally important to work on local level.” He said that working with women and children could be an academic issue for many but for him, it was a moral issue as women and children are the worst sufferers of poverty and discrimination. He said that international organizations should not impose their own sets of solutions on the local community but should let the local community to pick solution for themselves.

Earlier, 50 Women Leaders Group Secretary Razia Sultana briefed participants about the achievements of the initiatives