LAHORE:(APS) “Only when we provide equal opportunities and the same human rights for all members of society, including women, will we create an equal society. I am pleased that a project, which Denmark has been supporting, is now expanding into a public-private partnership that aims to provide better protection and care to vulnerable women”.
This was stated by the Ambassador of Denmark, Mr. Jesper Moller Sorensen, during a MoU signing ceremony Tuesday in Lahore. The MoU was entered between the Department of Social Welfare and Bait ul Maal Department (SWD), Government of Punjab and the Academy of Family Physicians Lahore, Pakistan (PAFP). Mr. Syed Haroon Sultan Bukhari, Minister for Social Welfare also graced the occasion.
The partnership between SWD and FAFP is a public-private initiative that aims to improve the quality of medical services for women who seek shelter and protection services at various Dar-Ul-Amans (shelter homes) being run by the Government. The initiative is part of a development program that aims to structure the protection mechanism within 35 shelter homes in Punjab. The program is being facilitated by Médecins du Monde France (MdM) supported financially by the Governments of Denmark and Norway.
Speaking at the ceremony, Ambassador Sorensen highlighted that the challenge in protecting vulnerable women also relate to the limited mechanisms of protection for women who are either victims of domestic abuse or at the risk of domestic abuse. “The Dar-ul-Aman program is an important initiative as these shelter homes provide victims shelter, protection and knowledge about their rights. They also help give them hope and the opportunity to rebuild their lives. Today’s partnership is an excellent model that shows how effective public-private partnerships can be in taking a project from grass-root level and through the right technical input and partners, develop it into a multi-faceted service program with strong ownership at all levels”, said Ambassador Sorensen.
Mr. Vittorio Oppizzi, General Coordinator MDM stated that MDM’s primary work was to support the Department of Social Welfare to sustain the medical, psychological and legal services offered to residents of DUAs. “Our mission is to support the Social Welfare Department with the aim to build local capacity in terms of protection, setting up a network, management and monitoring, through training and development of action plans. Our mission is also to create local ownership of the standard management tools and create sustainability. The program has yielded excellent results, which also has a lot to do with the volunteer groups we have of doctors, phycologists and lawyers, who support us in provision of free services for the residents. That is why I am very pleased that today we have been able to facilitate the first formal partnership between the SWD and a private institution for the provision of free of charge services offered by volunteers”.
Mr. Oppizzi shared that due to the program success, MDM expects to phase out soon from the program and hand it over to the Department of Social Welfate for future supervision and management.
Currently the 35 DUAs are providing shelter and protection services to around 75,000 individuals, out of which around 80 per cent are women and 20 per cent are children. The program also supports and leads the ‘Mumkin Alliance” which is a platform for 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 defence of the rights of women.