LAHORE: Owing to the unprecedented steps taken by the Punjab government for the protection and welfare of women, the women of Punjab now have the confidence needed to compete with anyone in the world. The basis of this confidence is the legislation that strengthened the multifarious role of the Pakistani women and as a result, they could not be deprived of their rights.
This was the gist of speeches made by provincial ministers Dr Ayesha Ghaus Pasha, Begum Zakia Shahnawaz and Begum Hameeda Waheeduddin on Thursday at the inaugural ceremony of the first “Women Development Policy” at Aiwan-e-Iqbal under the aegis of the Women Development Department.
They further said that the most conducive atmosphere was arranged for women in every field so that they could play their due role with full confidence and courage. However, there still is a need to further sensitise the women community about its rights so that they could confidently counter any unjust move in the society.
The function was largely attended by women ministers, members of national and provincial assemblies, representatives of the health and education departments along with the police, NGOs, girl guides and media persons.
Addressing the function, Dr Ayesha Ghaus Pasha said that the Punjab government had the best performance when it came to women empowerment, for it ensured an equitable access to health, education and other sectors for women.
“Till now, as much as 130,028 deserving women have been provided with educational stipends worth Rs6.5 billion. 450,000 girl students are being given monthly stipends for education in different less-developed areas under the Zawer-e-Taleem programme. Similarly, 90 new girl colleges have been established by the government since 2012 and a free transport facility has also been provided to the students in most of the colleges for girls,” she said.
The minister also told that 836,200 deserving women were given interest-free loans under the Chief Minister’s Self-Employment Scheme.
It is important to note, she said, that more than 65 amendments were introduced in different laws and regulations to provide prompt legal protection to the women in the society. The government was also working to establish separate information desks for women in police stations of 36 districts and in addition to it, ‘violence against women’ centres were being established to give a strong legal support to those in need. She also highlighted the importance of providing girls with skills-based education for the strengthening of national economy.
Begum Zakia Shahnawaz paid tribute to all the women who played their role in different sectors of life. She said that Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif played his vital role by making necessary amendments in different laws pertaining to the rights of women and added that the implementation of these laws was also being ensured by the Punjab government. She paid rich tributes to the democratic character of Madere Millat (Mother of the Nation) Fatima Jinnah and said that she raised her voice for the protection of democracy in the country.
Begum Hameeda Waheeduddin shared the details of different achievements made by the Women Development Department and complimented the vision of the chief minister for providing a level-playing field to the women. She said that Punjab Women Development Policy would prove as an important milestone for the progress of women in the province and hoped that the women community would get all its rights.
UN Resident Coordinator Nail Buhne commended the strong role of Pakistani women and congratulated Chief Minister Shehbaz for the anti-harassment law to protect the women of the province.
A documentary was also presented to highlight the strong role of women in different sectors of life.