LAHORE - Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has said that half of Pakistan’s population comprises women and their empowerment is the need of the hour for the progress and prosperity of the country.

He was talking to the delegation of an NGO Shirkatgah, working for the protection of women rights which met him under the leadership of Executive Director of the NGO Farida Shaheed. Local and foreign delegates were also included in the delegation while Federal Minister for Water & Power Kh Asif was also present on the occasion.

The chief minister said that the Punjab government announced a comprehensive policy for the empowerment of women in 2012 under which revolutionary steps had been taken for the protection of their rights and their empowerment.

The chief minister said that 33 percent quota of women have been fixed in governmental boards whereas the quota of women in government jobs has also been increased from five percent to 15 percent.

He said that contract for running canteens in the educational institutions for women is also being given to women. Similarly, he said that ownership of women inheritance has been made compulsory. He said that a law has also been introduced for the protection of women in offices and their work places.

The chief minister said that Pakistani women are very talented and they have proved their worth in every sectors of life. He said that the role of women including Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah and Raina Liaqat Ali Khan in Pakistan Movement was highly commendable.

Shahbaz Sharif said that Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto played a prominent role in the political field and was the first prime minister of the country. He said that upholding of the rights of women and their protection is the collective responsibility.

He said that economic independence is essential for empowerment of women. He said that women have to work side by side men in the practical field after completion of their education. He said that women living in villages work shoulder to shoulder with men in different sectors and women of urban areas will also have to play their role in the process of national development.

The chief minister said that Islam has laid great stress on the rights of women. He said that special centers are being set up for the provision of justice to the women who are subjected to violence and the foundation stone of first center has been laid in Multan where all necessary facilities will be available under one roof. He said that women after completion of their education will have to play their vigorous role in the practical field for the progress and prosperity of the country.

Meanwhile, Shahbaz Sharif expressed deep sense of sorrow and grief over the death of prominent intellectual, poet, writer, critic and columnist Jamil-ud-Din Aali.

In a condolence message, the chief minister paid rich tributes to the services of Jamil-ud-Din Aali in the field of literature and journalism. He said that Jamil-ud-Din Aali had an important place in Urdu literature and his services will always be remembered. Shahbaz Sharif prayed that may Allah Almighty rest the departed soul in eternal peace and grant courage and strength to the members of the bereaved family to bear the irreparable loss with fortitude.