ISLAMABAD – Punjab Chief Minister, Shahbaz Sharif, announced the independence of the Women Development Department. This department was earlier working under the social welfare ministry. The National Commission on the Status of Women has applauded this decision. So far Sindh and Balochistan have made their women development department independent and had their ministers, Tauqeer Fatima in Sindh and Ghazala Gola in Balochistan.The commission hoped that a woman minister is named soon for the new ministry who could be the first woman member of the Punjab Cabinet. In addition the commission commended the reform package announced by Punjab government with interest-free loans, establishing of educational institutions for women, increasing the women’s quota in the civil service and setting up a women’s desk at district level for monitoring response of law enforcing agencies to crimes against women. The commission hoped that the Punjab Government will also establish a women’s commission to oversee the implementation of such reforms. In the next term of the national commission, a representative of each provincial commissions will have a full membership with voting rights. So far only Khyber Phakhtunkhwa has established a women’s commission. . Anis Haroon, chairperson of the commission said that she congratulates the Punjab Government and the civil society that had been working on the home based workers for getting a policy passed for them. She said this would help organize and support these women who are vulnerable but contribute in so many different trades.This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 13-Mar-2012 here.