FAISALABAD-As gender mainstreaming is imperative, the Punjab government has taken bold and revolutionary steps for the purpose, a Punjab minister said.

She said that the government has allocated Rs2 billion to provide interest-free loans to women under Women Entrepreneurs Financing Scheme.

Minister for Women Development Hameeda Wahidud Din was distributing certificates to the women who have successfully completed Domestic Workers Training Programme of Punjab Vocational Training Council (PVTC). It was financed by Women Development Department.

Underlining the importance of women in socio-economic development, she said that Women Development Department was established in 2012 under Punjab Women Empowerment Package. The policy document is comprised of multiple reforms in legal, administrate and constitutional spheres, she said, adding that it will also provide new initiatives to safeguard the women's rights. It is expected to transform the socioeconomic status of women by exploiting opportunities currently available to the women folk, she said

She said that under the economic initiative of the package, the quota for women in Public sector has been enhanced from 5 to 15 percent in addition to extending relaxation of upper age limit up to 3 years across the board to female candidates. Similarly, all contractual women employees have been allowed to avail one additional chance of transfer to the placement of the residence of their spouse in case of marriage, she added.

She said that Punjab Day Care Fund has also been established d to support working women by making their work places women-friendly on co-finance basis. In this connection an initial grant of Rs100 million has been provided to the fund for further disbursement, she said. "It will provide funds under an open proposed mechanism for NPO's, NGO's, CBO's and public sector organizations," she added.

Regarding interest-free loans for women, she said that Bank of Punjab has announced women entrepreneurship training scheme for loans to undertake commercial ventures. These include day care centres, bakeries, eateries, catering, furniture, interior, designing, boutiques, fitness gyms, event management, vocational institutes, driving schools, jewellery and clothing and accessories etc.

Regarding domestic workers training programme, she said that during first phase of the programme training will be provided to 10,000 women.

Earlier, President District Board of PVTC Engineer Ahmad Hassan said that the district contains 7 main campuses which are attached with 12 sub-campuses. He said that these campuses are providing training in 31 different trades and are capable of providing training to 10,000 students per annum. He said that training was being provided in the market driven programme hence the employability ratio of passed out students is around 74 percent.