PRIME Minister Yousaf Reza Gilani has announced that his government has fixed a quota of 10 percent for women in the Central Superior Services, as well as in federal employment. This was the highlight of the measures he announced on Monday to a function at the Convention Centre to mark International Womens Day. The other measures included the strengthening of the First Womens Bank and of the Women Development Ministry, and the conversion of the Youth Development Centres in Peshawar and Quetta to womens hostels. He also announced that a National Plan to end gender discrimination would be put to the Cabinet. The quota (for the CSS, as well as other federal employment) is a delicate matter, which must be implemented if the position of women is to be improved; but it not only involves all four provinces, but the Sindh quota is further divided into Rural and Urban, to ensure that both Sindhi-speakers and Muhajirs are represented. The womens quota will have to be taken out of all the present quotas. However, it must not be taken as any sort of cap or ceiling, but as a floor. Women have so far done well in the educational field and may well exceed the small quota set for them. The time has probably not yet come where they can expect to have half the seats, but the time should come where they would win the seats on merit. This quota also implies the end of political appointments, which violate merit. It is ironic that the government should announce womens hostels on the same day as a fire in its capitals twin city killed six students at the National Foundation Womens Hostel, but one issue was highlighted. Pakistani women are anxious to take part in the national development process, but are held back by a lack of education. Where education is made available, hostel facilities are not. The government must move faster than the present tokenism if it wants women to play their due role in the development of 21st century Pakistan as a democratic Islamic welfare state.