LAHORE: Educated women should play their role for the uplift of society instead of choosing to stay at their homes, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said on Sunday.
He was speaking at a ceremony at Aiwan-i-Iqbal in connection with the International Women’s Day.
Sharif announced that Violence Against Women Centres would be set up in various cities providing police assistance and prosecution, medical and forensic facilities. “The centres will be the first of the kind in South Asia.”
The chief minister said the government had decided to give 33 per cent representation to women in all decision-making boards and committees. He said the government institutions now had to appoint at least one woman in their recruitment committees.
He ordered that a committee be formed to work for women’s empowerment. He said the government, in collaboration with the Akhuwat Foundation, had provided loans to thousands of women to help them stand on their own feet.
Department for International Development (DFID) country head Richard Montgomery praised the government for taking steps to empower women.
United Nations country director Jamshaid Qazi said the government had done effective legislation for women’s empowerment.
Provincial Ministers Begum Zakia Shahnawaz and Hameeda Waheeduddin, Balochistan Minister for Women Development Mir Izhar Khan Khosa and MNA Shaista Pervaiz Malik also attended the ceremony.
The Punjab Education Foundation (PEF) had set up a stall at Aiwan-i-Iqbal providing information about PEF-sponsored interventions.
Deputy Director Aruj Salman responded to visitors’ queries at the stall set up by the PEF communication department. The visitors were told that half of the 1.6 million student beneficiaries were girls enrolled at PEF partner schools near their homes.
They were informed that the PEF had launched an evening schooling project for housemaids in three districts as a pilot project.
The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) had arranged a ceremony at Darul Aman to mark the day.
Separately, PTI Punjab secretary general Yasmin Rashid said the day provided an opportunity to celebrate women’s achievements. It called for ensuring greater equality in society, she said. She stressed the need for effective legislation on violence against women. She said programmes against gender inequality could not produce desired results unless they were funded well.
Information secretary Andleeb Abbas said, “Every year we celebrate the achievements of women and progress made towards gender equality. We need to redouble our efforts because the challenges related to illiteracy, conflict and terrorism cannot be overcome without effective women’s participation in the society.”
Abbas stressed the need for taking steps to check violence against women, safeguarding their rights and providing them equal opportunities in all fields.
“Millions of women and girls in the country lack access to education, healthcare, justice and economic opportunities. Pakistan is ranked worst in Global Gender Gap Report.”
The Jamaat Islami’s Women’s Wing had arranged a Khadijatul Kubra conference at their Mansoora headquarters to mark the day.
The Awami Workers Party’s public gathering in Model Town had to be cut short due to rain.