March 8 International Women’s Day

Ashifa Fatyana, Punjab’s Minister for Woman Development, talks to GVS and explains the initiatives her government is taking for women empowerment.

Why is it essential to have a separate Women Development ministry?

According to the 2017 census, women are 49 percent of Pakistan’s population – yet statistics show that less than 25 percent work.

It is most important to have a separate department looking at women’s issues both at the provincial and national levels to empower women financially, socially, economically, and legally.

While the law does not discriminate – Pakistani society has not made it easy for women to work outside their houses. It is crucial to include females in the national workforce for the sake of higher sustainable growth of the economy. We want to help facilitate all the women in every walk of life.

What major initiatives are you working on?

The PTI government is very serious about driving the women’s empowerment agenda forward. The Ehsaas program ensures that all its initiatives have a 50% rule across the board for women inclusion, including interest-free loans, scholarships, and asset transfers.

WDD has made functional 100 Day Care Centers in all 36 districts of Punjab while a further 199 applications have been approved, and another 79-day care centers are under completion

Furthermore, the Kafaalat program that was recently launched by the Prime Minister will ensure financial and digital inclusion of 7 million disadvantaged women across Pakistan. They will receive a monthly stipend of Rs. 2,000 along with access to bank accounts and affordable smartphones.

Here in Punjab, the Department of Women Development is working with the collaboration of Health, Education, Labour, Police, and other departments to protect the rights of women. Data of home-based worker females is being collected to provide these workers with their labor rights when at work.

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The Women’s development department has issued a digital magazine to empower women for women first time in the province’s history to make them aware of updates in legislation, steps taken by the government for their welfare, and to promote the success stories of women. Recently, the second edition of the digital magazine was issued on 22 January 2020.

WDD has made functional 100 Day Care Centers in all 36 districts of Punjab while a further 199 applications have been approved, and another 79-day care centers are under completion. Work has also been completed on the Women Development Department Policy Implementation Framework has completed.

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Moreover, the Strategic Policy Unit is being established to work on policy formulation to enable a better environment for women to prosper. Work on Women Development Complex is also being carried out. An authority has been set up to monitor working women’s hostel; currently, we have 16 women’s hostels and Rs. 70m is being spent on upgrading these to ensure the provision of quality secured residence for working women.

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