Punjab leads South Asia in gender parity: Shehbaz Sharif

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LAHORE, Mar 7 (APP): Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif on Monday said the Punjab government had taken a lead in South Asia by issuing its first gender parity report and had worked tremendously for the betterment of women in the province.
“Half of the country’s population consists of women and we cannot progress without empowering and providing them equal opportunities for success,” he said while addressing the ceremony to launch Punjab Gender Parity Report 2017.
Governor Punjab Malik Muhammad Rafique Rajwana, Begum Zakia Shahnawaz, Ayesha Ghaus Pasha, Hamida Wahidud Din, Raja Ashfaq Sarwar, Chairperson of Punjab Commission for women’s status Fauzia Waqar, Members of Parliament, Higher officials of Punjab, Related Secretaries, NGO representatives attended the ceremony.
Shehbaz Sharif said the Punjab government had also taken lead in empowering women through establishing office of the Woman Ombudsperson, making woman empowered to get equal rights in property inheritance, increased the employment quota to 15 percent in government jobs and building the foundation of landmark laws regarding women’s empowerment.
He said Punjab Educational Endowment Fund had rewarded 1.75 lakhs scholarships so far and majority number of rewarded students constituted of females, likewise 700 special desks had been formed for females in police stations, adding that 1000 rupees monthly scholarship had been allocated to female students in Southern Punjab.
Chief Minister said, “Pakistani women have made their mark in every field while female students of universities and colleges have excelled a lot in education sector, so we need a realistic approach and a comprehensive road map to counter the challenges we have to face in gender parity and females have to play their effective role in its implantation.”
He said the Punjab Government had introduced exemplary initiatives for the progress of woman and also formed effective laws for the protection of their rights, adding there were some hindrances in law formation while the issue was resolved in negotiation with the Islamic scholars.
Shehbaz said a large number of students had been receiving scholarships under the umbrella of South Asia’s largest education fund and were also getting skilled education under the Punjab Skilled Development Program. He said instead of spending money on constructions of buildings, the Punjab government with the help of companies related to skilled education was producing skilled workers according to the needs of market.
The Punjab Chief Minister said situation had improved with the appointment of educated people and with the induction of female desks in police stations.
He said the Punjab Government had laid the foundations of universities for the quality education for females, government was also spending the funds of 6 billions in giving 1000 rupees monthly scholarships to the deserving female students in Southern Punjab. “This is not an expenditure on the government but an important investment by educating the daughters of our nation,” he added.
He said the government had expanded the scope of Prime Minister Health Insurance Program from four districts to the entire Punjab and districts in Southern Punjab would be more benefited, adding that a large number of females would also avail the Prime Minister Health Insurance program.
He said clean drinking water program would also be initiated from Southern Punjab, adding that the program would be started in 37 tehsils of 7 districts of Southern Punjab. He said 80 million rupees were saved in this project.
He said that the nation came into being by the sacrifices of millions under the leadership of Quaid e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah but the dream of Quaid and Iqbal was still not realised. He said, “We should make this nation a true Islamic welfare state by implementing the ideologies of Founder of Pakistan,” adding that women participated shoulder to shoulder with men for the independence of Pakistan.
“We should keep Quaid’s quote in mind and include females on the way of development and success,” he stressed.
The Chief Minister expressed his concern, saying, “In rural areas females are working side by side with men while in cities our daughters get higher education but do not come forward in professional fields. We should change the culture and thinking and include females in development of this country.”
“We should also provide females with equal opportunities and paved their way to success,” he added.
Shehbaz said, “Issuance of Gender Parity Report 2016 is Punjab Government’s big achievement and we are trying to take better steps keeping this report in view.”
Governor Punjab Malik Muhammad Rafique Rajwana addressed the ceremony and stated that CM Punjab had taken massive steps for the welfare of females and also empowering them. He said constitution of Punjab Commission for the status of women and gender parity report was another feather in Punjab Government’s cap.
Governor also congratulated CM on holding successful event of PSL and declared the nation as united one.
Provincial Minister Women Development Hameeda Wahidudin also highlighted the steps taken in empowering women in Gender Parity Report 2017.
Punjab Commission of status of women chairperson Fauzia Waqar also addressed the ceremony and highlighted Gender Management Information System.