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March 9, 2018

Minister lists Punjab steps for women welfare


March 9, 2018

LAHORE: The Punjab government has announced first women development policy ahead of the general elections 2018 as it claims that the steps taken during its five-year stint for the protection and welfare of the womenfolk have no similitude in the 70 years history of the country.

The women of Punjab have confidence and courage to compete with any other woman in the world. The basis of this confidence is legislation which has strengthened the multifarious role of the Pakistani women and as a result, she cannot be deprived of her rights, including inheritance, economic empowerment and the fundamental rights of health and education.

Along with it, a most conducive atmosphere has been created for women in every field so that she could play her role with full confidence and courage. However, there is a need to further sensitise the women community about its rights so that she could confidently counter any unjust move in society. This was the gist of speeches made by Punjab Ministers Dr Ayesha Ghaus Pasha, Begum Zakia Shahnawaz and Begum Hameeda Waheed-ud-Din at the inaugural ceremony of first Women Development Policy at Aiwan-e-Iqbal under the aegis of Women Development Department. The function was largely attended by women ministers, members of national and provincial assemblies, representatives of health and education departments, police, NGOs, girl guides and media.

Addressing the function, Dr Ayesha Ghaus Pasha said that Punjab government has best performed for women empowerment by ensuring their equitable access to health, education and other sectors.

Till now, as much as 1, 30,028 deserving women have been given educational stipends worth Rs 6.5 billion. Around 4, 50,000 girl students are being given monthly stipends for education in different less-developed areas under Zawer-e-Taleem Programme.

Similarly, 90 new girl colleges have been established by the government from 2012 till today and free transport facility has also been provided to the students in most of the girl colleges, the minister said and added Punjab government has arranged 326 ambulances for meeting the needs of expecting women across the province. She said 8, 36,200 deserving women have been given interest-free loans under Chief Minister’s Self-Employment Scheme. It is important to note that more than 65 amendments have been introduced in different laws and regulations to provide prompt legal protection to the women in the society, she said.

“The government is also working to establish separate information desks for women in police stations of 36 districts and in addition to it, violence against women centres are being established to give a strong legal support to the women in need. The government has worked really hard to provide a strong legal mechanism for safeguarding the rights of womenfolk in society but the most important thing is that all the girls must go to schools and other institutions of higher education so that they could be strengthened through it,” the minister added.

She impressed upon the girls to turn towards skills-based education as well for strengthening the national economy. Begum Zakia Shahnawaz paid tributes to all the women who have played their role in different sectors of life. She said Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has played his role by making necessary amendments in different laws pertaining to the rights of the women and added that implementation of these laws has also been ensured by the Punjab government. She paid rich tributes to the democratic character of Mather-e-Millat Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah and said that she raised her voice for the protection of democracy in the country.

Begum Hameeda Waheed-ud-Din gave a detail of different successes and achievements made by the Women Development Department and paid tributes to the vision of Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif for providing a level-playing field to the womenfolk. She said Punjab women development policy will prove as an important milestone for women development in the province and hoped that women community will get all the rights.

Resident UN Coordinator Nail Buhne commended the strong role of Pakistani women and congratulated Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif for anti-harassment law to protect the women community. He said, “But there is much to do. A report released last week showed on women in the civil service shows how there are real accomplishments, notable 45pc of grade 17 officers entering the civil service are now women. But so far there are only 9pc in the top grade. There is as many females as male graduates from universities now, but 70pc of them soon drop out of the labour market, which contributes to a labour force participation rate of 26% for women in Pakistan.” A documentary was also shown to highlight the strong role of women in different sectors of life. National songs were sung on the occasion.

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