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Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif launched Punjab Gender Parity Report 2016 and Gender Management and Gender Management Information System here on Monday. The report is the first in South Asia in the light of which further measures would be taken for the welfare and betterment of women so that they could play an active role in the socio-economic development of the country.

Governor Punjab Malik Muhammad Rafique Rajwana, Provincial Ministers Begum Zakia Shahnawaz, Ayesha Ghaus Pasha, Hameeda Waheed ud Din, Raja Ashfaq Sarwar, Australian High Commissioner Ms Margaret Adamson, diplomats, Chairperson Punjab Commission on Women Fauzia Viqar, members assembly, Chief Secretary, Inspector General Police, Chairman Planning & Development, concerned secretaries, representatives of NGOs and large number of women were present on the occasion.

Addressing the launch ceremony CM Shahbaz Sharif said a major portion of Pakistan's population comprises women and the country cannot progress without providing them education and equal opportunities of progress, under the leadership of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Punjab government has taken historic measures during last many years for the progress and empowerment of women.

He commended the efforts of Chairperson Punjab Commission on Women Dr Fauzia Viqar, her team and concerned institutions on the preparation of the report and congratulated them. Shahbaz Sharif said Islam has ensured great respect for women and stressed the importance of their empowerment and providing them equal rights. A Hadith of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) has further enhanced the respect of women by declaring that 'Heaven is underneath the feet of the mother".

He said the Punjab government has taken revolutionary measures under the leadership of Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif for the progress and betterment of women in accordance with the vision of Quaid-e-Azam. He said office of Ombudswoman has been set up in Punjab while the right of a woman in ancestral property has been ensured through legislation and land record management information system. Women Commission has also been established for resolving the problems of women while 15 percent quota has been allocated for women in government jobs.

He said three years' relaxation in age has also been given to women for government service. Day-care centers are being set up throughout the province for the benefit of working women, vocational training has been imparted to 0.14 million girls so far under skill development programme.

He said the purpose of providing technical training to women is to ensure their economic and social independence, women have also been included in the programme of provision of interest-free loans under self-employment scheme and thousands of families are benefiting from these loans provided under a transparent system, the recovery rate of these loans is almost one hundred percent.

He said for the purpose of promotion of livestock sector, more than 11 thousand cattle have been given to rural women for their economic stability, however, this process should be continued so as to ensure their empowerment, facility of an additional transfer has been given to women who are in government service, hostels for working women are also been established in all districts while 33 percent representation has been given to women in the boards of government institutions.

He said merit and transparency was ignored in the recruitment of lady health workers during dictatorial era but as under 18th amendment, Health Department has been devolved, therefore the lady health workers have also been transferred to the provinces. Though the previous government ignored merit in the recruitment of lady health workers but as this matter concerned women, therefore, Punjab government regularised them and provided funds of billions of rupees for payment of salaries. The Punjab government has promoted policy of merit and transparency in all its tenures and all recruitments in government departments have been made purely on merit, still lady health workers have not been removed from service.

The CM said Pakistani women are very talented, they have taken an active part in national development of different sectors, the role played by Mathr-e-Millat Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah in national development will never be forgotten. He said Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Shaheed had the honour of being the first woman prime minister of Pakistan, Arfa Karim was a very brilliant daughter of the nation and can be called Einstein of Pakistan, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy has also won laurels for the country by twice winning Oscar Award, a woman pilot Maryam Mukhtar laid down her life for the nation while a courageous daughter of Swat Malala Yousafzai has won honour for the country by winning Nobel Prize.

He said the women who have got education in engineering, medicines and other fields of knowledge will have to join practical field so that Pakistani society could progress and prosper, the goal of progress and prosperity of Pakistan cannot be achieved nor it can join the ranks of developed nations unless steps are taken for the empowerment of women and enable them to join the mainstream of development.

He also issued instructions for setting up a committee headed by Chief Secretary Punjab to formulate and submit comprehensive recommendations within four weeks for the welfare and empowerment of women. A modern gender management information system is also providing useful information with regard to gender parity and is helping in taking further steps for the progress of women.

Governor Punjab Malik Muhammad Rafique Rajwana while addressing the ceremony said women are taking a lead in the field of education and their role in other sectors is also praiseworthy. The government has taken laudable measures for progress of women under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif. Punjab government has also undertaken effective legislation for ensuring the rights of women in inheritance. Shahbaz Sharif and his competent and hard working team have taken unprecedented steps for the development of women, he averred.

Provincial Minister for Women Development Hameeda Waheed ud Din said effective measures are being taken for the welfare and uplift of women, the role of women in national progress is of key importance. She said the new system will be helpful with regard to welfare measures for women.

Chairperson Punjab Commission on Women Fauzia Viqar in her speech highlighted the aim and objectives of Gender Parity Report 2016. Chief Executive Officer Urban Unit Dr Nasir Javed spoke about the important features of gender management information system.

Representative of British High Commission Ms Jennifer Cole in her address described gender management information system as splendid and termed launch of Gender Parity Report 2016 as a big achievement of provincial government. She said the Punjab government has taken commendable measures for the progress of women. At the conclusion of the function, Chairperson Women Commission presented Punjab Gender Parity Report 2016. Shahbaz Sharif also gave shields to those who had worked on the project.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2016

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