Lahore: (PR) After ten years of providing technical support in restructuring the protection mechanisms and services of 35 Dar-ul-Amans (DUAs) in Punjab, the international development organization Médecins du Monde – France (MdM) today officially concluded its support and handed the operations of the 35 shelter homes over to their institutional partner, the Punjab Social Welfare Department.
The successful closing of the support program was officially announced at a ceremony, in which Mr. Jesper Moller Sorensen, Ambassador of Denmark and Mr. Muhammad Yasrab, Director General at Social Welfare Punjab graced the occasion as key-note speakers.
During the ceremony, program partners and beneficiaries shared the results and impact of the program, while talking about the continuous need to work and advocate for change on women rights. The DUA support program was facilitated by Médecins du Monde – France (MdM) and financially supported by the Governments of Denmark and Norway.
Speaking at the ceremony, Denmark’s Ambassador, Mr. Jesper Moller Sorensen said that promoting gender equality was a key in Denmark’s foreign policy and a consistent feature in all its development and humanitarian assistance programs. “We consider women’s rights as basic human rights. We also believe that by empowering women, we also empower families and communities and this will benefit the whole society”, said Ambassador Sorensen.
He further added that “ As we confront violence against women and girls, it is always important to have an effective strategy that include practical, policy and systems change activities. This program has been doing exactly that. I am proud that Denmark – together with Norway – has supported a program that has ensured that all stakeholders have been engaged, consulted and supported”. Ambassador Sorensen concluded by stating that the closing ceremony should not be the end of speaking up for women rights. “As we move forward, let us ensure that gender equality and women’s empowerment remain at the heart of all of our work, if we want to build a better and safer tomorrow”.
The DUA support program has worked on improving the quality of medical, psychological and legal services for women who seek shelter and protection at various Dar-Ul-Amans being run by the Government in Punjab, including the capacity building of all local stakeholders. It started as a pilot project in 2004 and gradually increased its outreach. After 10 years, the 35 DUAs provided shelter and protection services to more than 100,000 individuals, out of which around 80 per cent are women and 20 per cent are children.
Mr Yasrab, DG Social Welfare said that the program had worked hard on upgrading the operational standards and service delivery of the Dar-ul-Amans. He termed the ten year partnership as a successful story of how challenges can be addressed through use of innovative initiatives and dedication. Mr. Yasrab reiterated their support in ensuring the continuity and sustainability of MdM’s initiatives of the Dar-ul-Amans and encouraged MdM to take into account other institutions and projects of Social Welfare Department for its upcoming collaborations.
Dr. Barbara Swarthout-ten Kate, MdM Responsible of Mission for Punjab stated that the event was an opportunity to thank their institutional partners, the Social Welfare Department of Punjab and the Governments of Denmark and Norway, for their support and cooperation. “More importantly, today is an occasion to acknowledge the results achieved in the field, at district and Dar-ul-Aman level over the past 10 years. MdM would like to emphasize on the importance of sustaining the system that has been designed and implemented with the continuous support of the SWD, which includes the level of service provision, monitoring and evaluation system and the permanent capacity building of all actors”, said Dr. Swarthout-ten Kate.
The program also supported and led the Mumkin Alliance which is a platform for 23 local NGOs involved with the rights of women in Punjab to improve coordination and work together towards an effective advocacy for the ratification of a law criminalizing domestic violence. The Alliance is playing an active role in the working of the Domestic Violence Bill to improve the over legal framework in defense of the rights of women.
According to MdM, they will continue working for the rights and health of women in Pakistan.