LAHORE: Punjab Finance Minister Dr Ayesha Ghaus Pasha on Saturday said that the Punjab government’s performance in empowering women was the best in Pakistan for the government ensured equitable access of women to health, education and other sectors.
Speaking at an event titled “Torch Bearers of Change” (Antigone Malala) at Unique College, she said that as much as 130,028 deserving women had been given educational stipends worth Rs6.5 billion till now.
“450,000 girl students are being given monthly stipends for education in different less-developed areas under the Zawer-e-Taleem Programme,” she added.
Similarly, she said, 90 new women colleges were established by the government since 2012 and free transport facilities had also been provided to the students in most of the colleges. “Moreover, the Punjab government has arranged 326 ambulances to meet the needs of pregnant women across the province,” said the minister.
The minister also told that 836,200 deserving women had been given interest-free loans under the Chief Minister’s Self-Employment Scheme.
She highlighted that more than 65 amendments had been introduced in different laws and regulations to provide prompt legal protection to the women in the society, and added that the government was also working to establish separate information desks for women in police stations of 36 districts.
“In addition to it, violence against women centres are also being established to give a strong legal support to the women in need,” said Dr Ayesha.
She said that the government had worked really hard to provide a strong legal mechanism for safeguarding the rights of the women in the society, but the most important thing was that all girls must go to schools and institutions of higher education so that they could be further strengthened.
She advised young women to turn towards skill-based education for strengthening the national economy and lamented that unfortunately, only one per cent of educated girls participated in the labour force. “We must not forget the challenges faced by the country and it is a responsibility of the girls to overcome these challenges,” said Dr Ayesha.
The minister said the International Women’s Day was recognition of the power of women, adding that the women were making their presence known in every field including politics, education, medicine, armed forces and information technology.
Speaking on the occasion, Punjab University (PU) English Department Chairperson Dr Amra Raza said women were the best agents of change because they were multi-taskers and were constant in their pursuits as they had great endurance and patience.
She said women were natural nurturers and had a huge capacity for compassion and empathy. She also said it was a good omen that the potential of women was gradually being recognised.
Journalist Xari Jalil talked about the challenges faced by the female journalists in the field, adding that women had made their mark in journalism. She stressed the need to award more administrative roles to women in journalism.
Event head Naeem Khan Niazi highlighted the need to acknowledge the services of women as role models and said women were the conscience and creative side of humanity. He said the awards were recognition of the immense potential of women.
Souvenirs and gifts were also presented by Dr Ayesha Ghaus Pasha to women from different walks of life including politics, education, journalism, social sector, sports and bureaucracy.
Among the recipients of the souvenirs were Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Members Provincial Assembly (MPA) Tamkin Akhyer Niazi and Shazia Kamran Khan, Natasha Daultana of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), PU Institute of Communication Studies Director Dr Nosheena Saleem, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) Rabia Tahir and sportswomen including Twinkle Sohail, Sybil Sohail, Syeda Amna Mukhtar and Mehwish.