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At an elegant ceremony held at the seat of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in Rome, Pakistan’s Project, entitled Programme for Increasing Sustainable Microfinance (PRISM), received the IFAD’s Gender Award. Among the projects nominated from the Asia Pacific region for the IFAD’s Gender Award, PRISM was pronounced as the winner.

Launched in May 2008 with the IFAD’s technical support and co-financing and implemented by the Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF), the PRISM was completed on 30 September 2013. Project activities, spread in large parts of the country, were tailored to enhance access of the rural people, especially women, to microfinance and other financial services. According to the Project outcomes assessment by the IFAD, women comprised more than three quarters of the Project’s 183,000 direct beneficiaries. Project accomplishments included support to low-cost schools (with greater female enrolment), extension of family loans for the purchase of solar energy panels (for reducing house household women’s work burden) as well as the formation of the embroidery value chain, poultry value chain and establishment of women-owned Stitching Centre (for creating income generating activities for women).

While expressing gratitude to the IFAD at the occasion, Qazi Azmat Isa, Chief Executive Officer (PPAF) stressed that IFAD’s technical and financial assistance and the existing conducive environment enabled them to achieve excellent results. He also underlined that sustainability of the results and achievements of the Project was of critical importance.

As with the activities of other UN agencies in Pakistan, the IFAD-supported PRISM Project aimed a supplementing the Government’s efforts towards safeguarding women’s rights and providing them with equal opportunities. The Government is taking significant measures towards fostering women empowerment and promoting gender equality in economic, social, political and cultural fields. One of the important initiatives of the Government aimed at economic empowerment of women consists of earmarking 50% share for women in the recently launched Prime Minister’s Youth Loan Scheme worth Pak Rs. 20 billion.

27th November, 2014

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