Statement by Ambassador Masood Khan, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nation, during the 51st Session of Commission for Social Development, New York, 12 February 2013

Madam Chairperson,

We congratulate you and other members of the Bureau on your election and assure you of our full support and cooperation during the deliberations of the Commission.

Pakistan aligns itself with the statement made by Fiji on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.

We thank the Secretary General for his reports that serve to inform, enrich and guide our discussions in this forum. In particular, we appreciate the Secretary-General’s comprehensive report on promoting empowerment of people in achieving poverty eradication, social integration and full employment and decent work, which is also the priority theme for the current session of the Commission.

The inputs of the Experts Group meeting in September last year, as recorded in the report, are indeed very valuable.

Empowerment requires creation of legal frameworks for social protection, an enabling environment, and formal institutional structures. After having taken measures for holistic social development, it is important to measure and monitor empowerment through indicators so that participation of the marginalized social groups in society could be ensured.

Similarly, the policy of poverty eradication is best pursued by investing in livelihoods, education, health and housing.

Social and economic environment should be underpinned by supportive legislation and representation of the marginalized groups into the decision-making apparatus.

Discussions on post-2015 development agenda must focus on the need to renew commitment to sustainable development. Green economy policies should empower people living in poverty and other vulnerable groups; National efforts in the developing countries need to be supported by strong international cooperation and partnerships.

We join the Secretary General’s call for improving policy coherence and ensuring adequate financing for social development.

Madam Chairperson,

Despite massive and devastating floods, and the continuing challenges of countering terrorism, Government of Pakistan has focused on pro-poor policies and economic growth. Our development programme builds on the important link between empowerment and poverty eradication, social integration, full employment and decent work for all.

We are pursuing reforms to bring the poor and socially marginalized into the development mainstream with a sharp focus on empowerment of women, minorities, youth and the disabled.

Madam Chairperson,

In Pakistan, we have designed and implementing social protection programmes to eradicate poverty and create employment for multiple social groups. I will share some facets of our comprehensive social policy aimed at empowerment.

Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) is our pioneer social protection programme, which is a cash-transfer programme focusing on empowerment of women, provision of basic services and investment in human development. Eligible households are identified on the basis of a poverty scorecard survey. This program also provides for vocational training to one member of each beneficiary family and interest free loan for small business or self-employment. Recognizing their importance to social development, the programme has added education and health assistance components to its activities.

Pakistan Bait-ul-Mal provides financial assistance to the destitute, widows, orphans and disabled.

Employees’ Old-Age Benefits Institution provides pension to 4 million retired workers in their old age. We have also extended this programme to those working in the informal economy. The self-employed, too, have the option to register themselves in this scheme.

Sixty eight percent of Pakistan’s population is under the age of 30. The annual growth rate of the labour force is 3%. Like other countries, we face the formidable task of creating jobs and ensuring decent work for our youth. “Youth Development and Community Engagement” is one of the pillars of our economic growth. Steps have been taken to harness the capacities of youth through vocational and technical training programmes. We are also promoting public-private partnership in this area.

National Internship Program provides paid internships to fresh graduates in different public sector organizations to help improve their employability.

Together with Social Sector reforms, the Government is aggressively pursuing the women empowerment agenda. Women now comprise 22.2 percent of the National Assembly, 17 percent of the Senate membership and hold important cabinet positions. A range of legislative and administrative measures have also been taken that include laws against acid crimes, anti-women practices, harassment of women at the workplace and domestic violence. National Commission on Status of Women has been strengthened and the office of Ombudsperson for Protection of women against harassment at Workplace has also been established.

Madam Chairperson,

Last year, Pakistan ratified the Convention on rights of persons with disabilities. We are taking steps to protect dignity and rights of persons with disabilities. There is a special quota for the disabled in the public sector jobs to provide them opportunities to become equal members of society and be part of mainstream decision making.

Madam Chairperson,

Finally, empowerment requires continued national and international commitment and action. In this regard international cooperation, promotion of partnerships and mutual responsibility are of critical importance. Similarly, development assistance, debt-relief, market access, capacity building and fair and non-discriminatory multilateral trading system remain relevant and important for collective growth with equity and sustainable development.

We hope that discussions in this session would lead us to the collective goal of empowerment of people through poverty eradication and social integration.

I thank you.