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Women empowerment requires self-reliance, says Shahbaz

LAHORE: Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Monday stressed the need for empowering women.

Sharif was speaking to a delegation from Shirkatgah, an NGO working for the protection of women’s rights. Farida Shaheed, the Shirkatgah executive director, led the delegation.

The chief minister said that in 2012 the provincial government had announced a comprehensive policy for the empowerment of women under which several steps had been taken to protect their rights.

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He said that a 33 per cent quota had been reserved for women in government boards; their share in government jobs had also been increased from five per cent to 15 per cent. He said that contracts for canteens at educational institutions for women were being given to women. He said a law had also been introduced for the protection of women at workplaces.

Sharif said Pakistani women had proved their mettle in all fields of life. He mentioned the role of women, including Fatima Jinnah and Rana Liaquat Ali Khan, in the Pakistan Movement. He said Benazir Bhutto, the first woman prime minister of Pakistan, had played a prominent role in national politics.

He said that upholding women’s rights and providing them protection was a collective responsibility of the society. He said that economic independence was essential for their empowerment. He encouraged women to work along with men in all fields. “They hold the key to national development.”

The chief minister said that Islam attached great importance to women’s rights. He said special centres were being set up to ensure justice for women subjected to violence. The foundation of first such centre had been laid in Multan.

He said he believed that development targets could not be achieved unless women took part in the development process. He called for steps to make women financially self-reliant.

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Federal Minister for Water and Power Khwaja Asif said a lot of work was still to be done for the empowerment of women.

The attorney general of Pakistan; Provincial Ministers Begum Zakiya Shahnawaz, Hameeda Waheeduddin, Ayesha Ghaus Pasha, Syed Haroon Sultan and Khalil Tahir Sindhu; and assembly members Saba Sadiq and Farhana Afzal were also present.

Express Tribune