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Minister lists efforts to protect women

Women Development Department Minister Hameeda Waheeduddin said the promotion of women’s employment was necessary for development and prosperity.

She was addressing a seminar on promotion of women’s employment on Tuesday. Representatives of Japan International Cooperation Agency, Ms. Magumi Fujita, Former Chairman, PHMA, Chairman FGCC, Secretary General PTEA Aziz Goher and others also participated and highlighted the importance of female employment.

The minister said the Punjab government had established Violence against Women Centre, Crisis Centres and Shelter Homes for Women. Ombudsperson had also been appointed to specifically deal the harassment at work place cases, she said and added that harassment awareness volunteer programme had started in collaboration with local NGOs to create awareness about the issues of harassment. Strict laws were being promulgated to deter people from exploiting women in public and private life, she added.

Hameeda Waheed-ud-Din said almost half of the total population of Pakistan consists of women and girls, without their active participation in economic development, Pakistan could not move forward.

She said in order to bring women at par with men, the government of Punjab introduced special women empowerment packages to target the areas where there was a need for improvement. She said the Women Development Department was the central organization coordinating with all other departments. From establishment of the Women Development Department till today, more than 85 incredible initiatives for women empowerment had been executed through the Punjab Women Empowerment Packages, she added.

The minister said that under Chief Minister Self Employment Scheme, small interest free loans across Punjab were being extended to those who want to start business and more than 54 percent beneficiaries were women.

Similarly, women were provided exclusive space in Sunday bazaars to set  up their stalls, and distribution of livestock and establishment of cottage villages was also another step to encourage women entrepreneurship, she added.

Hameeda Waheed-ud-Din said in order to increase women employment, “We  have to consider the need for skilled labour, for which Punjab skills development fund has been established.”

She said training to workers wives, domestic workers, and minority  community was also being provided for their capacity building, adding vocational, technical, veterinary and daycare training was also provided to enhance labor force participation rate of females in different industries.

She said several measures had been taken to amend the employment policies and make them more favourable for females, like quota for public services jobs, age relaxation, additional chance of transfer, house rent, equal remuneration, maternity and paternity leaves and inclusion of women in selection committees. Career counseling centers are established in colleges to provide advisory services to female students to encourage their active participation in economy upon graduation, she added. She stated that enabling environment at work place was crucial for success of women in their professional life. Separate washroom facilities at public places and in government organization were being provided. Daycare centers, working women hostels were also available to facilitate working women. More than 400 urban buses had a ladies only compartment, facilitating female passengers, she added.

Hameeda said women in senior positions in 2874 public organizations were provided training from the topnotch management institutions of the country to empower them to lead their organizations.

She said the government of Punjab had planned to hold Women EXPO and establish Business Facilitation Centers for Women to provide outlet to display their products.

A survey of the private sector to find prospects for women employment would also be conducted, she said. “A lot has been done to achieve women empowerment in Pakistan but it still requires sustained efforts towards this end. Government is determined to continue struggle to make Pakistan a women friendly place to live and prosper,” concluded the minister.

APP. Minister lists efforts to protect women. The Nation, October 4, 2017.

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