Caretaker Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination (IPC) Fawad Hassan Fawad on Wednesday said that women empowerment was not just a moral imperative but also strategic investment for betterment of society as a whole.
Fawad Hassan, who was the chief guest at a futsal tournament, organised by National Commission for Human Rights (UNHCR) at the Pakistan Sports Complex, congratulated the Commission and Canada Fund for Local Initiatives to organise the event.
Canada Fund for Local Initiatives and the UNHCR have joined hands for a unique four-month initiative “Empower Her,” aimed at promoting girls’ participation in sports.
“Their firm commitment to promoting girls’ participation in sports is commendable and effectively breaking down barriers, transforming the landscape of sports in the country,” he said.
Giving the example of his daughter, who played football at the international level for Pakistan, the minister exhorted girls not to get discouraged or stop pursuing their dreams only because they were women.“This initiative aims to change things by making sports, especially football, more open, inclusive and accessible,” he added.
He said: “Empowering women is not just a moral imperative; it is a strategic investment for the betterment of society as a whole. By breaking down barriers and challenging stereotypes, we create a future where every girl can dream without limits, participate without constraints, and contribute meaningfully to the success of our nation.”
Meanwhile, Karachi finished at the top to secure the gold medal in the tournament. Karachi surged ahead in the first two matches beating Chitral with 6-0 and Hazara by 1-0, respectively. In the run for second and third position, the match between Quetta and Chitral was a tie with one goal from each side. In penalty kicks, Quetta edged Chitral 3-2 in an exciting finish.
Both sides made some fine attempts to secure the lead but were thwarted by the rival goalkeepers. Karachi stayed at the superior side all through and sealed the game-winning matches from Quetta and Chitral with a splendid win. The event also featured penalty goal score by Emaan visually impaired girl represented special children at the match Her appearance received tremendous applause from the audiences.
Teams from Karachi, Quetta and Chitral participated in the final matches. The final Futsal tournament was the culmination of “Empower Her,” a campaign supported by Canada Fund for Local Initiatives, and included training camps, tournaments, mentoring sessions, panel discussions and a final exhibition match in Islamabad.
‘Empower Her’ campaign was designed to tackle the challenges that hinder girls and women from participating in sports, particularly in football. These challenges include limited sports infrastructure, inadequate funding, deeply ingrained societal stereotypes and gender biases, a shortage of training and developmental opportunities, and a dearth of female representation at all levels of the sport.
Earlier in her opening remarks, Chairperson NCHR Rabiya Javeri Agha thanked all stakeholders for making this tournament a success. She said despite the fundamental right to participate in play and recreational activities, only 10% of women in Pakistan engage in sports, and a mere 10 women from our country have ever participated in the Olympic Games. “This encapsulates NCHR’s entry into this project, as we aim to explore the healing power of sports from a human rights perspective,” she said.
High Commissioner for Canada Leslie Scanlon appreciated the efforts of NCHR and said Canada Fund for Local Initiatives joined hands with the Commission in an effort to create a supportive and inclusive sports ecosystem that empowers women and girls by building their capacities and by providing them the opportunities to exhibit their skills. “We hope to see these young girls succeed and achieve great things in life,” she said.