LAHORE -  Provincial Minister for Finance Dr Ayesha Ghaus Pasha has said that no society of the world can make progress economically, socially and politically by ignoring its half, which is responsible of fifty per cent of the country’s economy.

“That is why the Punjab government is paying special attention to the welfare and development of the women,” she said while addressing a ceremony of Fatima Jinnah Civil Award 2016 held under the aegis of Provincial Women Development Department on Thursday.

Dr Pasha said that the provincial government does not believe in quota system and gender discrimination with women, rather it is willing to provide equal opportunities’ to them on merit basis. However, it is essential that the girls after getting higher education should not limit themselves in the houses, she added.

She said that like responsible citizens of the country, the women should also fulfill their national responsibilities as our religion as well as society also gives its permission.

The minister said that interest free loans are being provided to the women for their self sufficiency. She further said that vocational as well as special training of business is being imparted to the women.

Business incubation centers are being setup under chambers of commerce and industries in eight big cities of the province for this purpose.

Dr Pasha said that SME business training is being provided to more than 16,600 women entrepreneurs.

The provincial minister said that after amendments in inheritance and violence laws, enforcement of these laws is being ensured so that safe atmosphere could be provided to the girls inside and outside the homes. “Today’s Punjab is safe and full of opportunities’ for mothers, sisters and daughters ever before.

Various projects have been launched for providing best facilities of health and education and making them self sufficient to the women which included Chief Minister’s Zever Taleem Programme, Education Endowment Fund, Rurler Health Programme, Skills Training  and Micro Financing, she added.

She also said that launching of Fatima Jinnah Award by Provincial Women Development Department in recognition of services of capable women being rendered in various sectors is a good omen which will not only encourage them but also motivate other women to come forward and play their due role in country’s development.

Provincial Secretary for women development Bushra Amaan told the minister that Women Development Department under women Empowerment Programme has decided to award cash prizes to three categories of women and girls playing prominent role in education: Sports, cultural and social activities which included Fatima Jinnah Women of the year award, Fatima Jinnah Youth Award and Fatima Jinnah Excellence Award.

According to the unanimous decision of Fatima Jinnah Award Committee, Dr Tahira Hussain and Dr Shahla Javed Akram are being awarded Excellence Award; Zahida Hameed, Women of the year award; and Shumaila Nazir and Hushna Sohail, Youth Award.

The Women Development secretary also announced Rs200,000 each for the award winners.