The provincial government’s Women on Wheels programme to facilitate women’s mobility was inaugurated in Faisalabad on Monday.
Women traffic wardens would train selected women to drive motorbikes under the programme. A ceremony in this regard was held at the University of Agriculture Faisalabad where Law Minister Rana Sanaullah was the chief guest.
Speaking on the occasion, Sanaullah urged the women to play an active role for socio-economic development in the country. He said the provincial government was taking revolutionary steps for women empowerment. Alongside initiatives like Women on wheels, the government had passed the Protection of Women Against Domestic Violence Act to ensure just resolution of domestic disputes.
Sanaullah said that women were around 50 percent of the country’s population. The need of the hour was to enable them to participate in the labour market and to fight gender-based discrimination. He said those opposing the government’s initiatives and accusing the government of promoting western lifestyle in the country were wrong. He said these initiatives had been taken to improve women’s standards of living. He urged women to become good Muslims and to promote eastern values.
“The government is making efforts to promote Islamic values in the people. It cannot dare think of making laws against Islam and Sharia,” he said.
Sanaullah reminded the government’s critics that women had been working alongside men in the agriculture sector for ages. The same spirit was needed between men and women working together in other economic fields, he said.
Special Moniting Unit (Law and Order) senior member Salman Sufi was also present on the occasion. He said the country could not attain progress without women’s participation in development initiatives. He said the scope of the WoW programme would soon be extended to the entire province.
UAF Vice Chancellor Iqrar Ahmad Khan recalled that female students riding bikes on campus was a common sight in 1970s. He said the practice had declined in later decades. He said the UAF was already running a programme to encourage its women students to ride bicycles. As many as 100 bicycles had recently been distributed among women students, he said. He said he hoped that such initiatives would facilitate women’s mobility. Women would not be dependent on male family members for rides between their homes and education institutes or workplaces, he said.
Khan praised the provincial government’s initiatives for women empowerment. He said these would pave the way for development and prosperity in the country. He said construction of a girls’ hostel to accommodate 1,000 students was underway at the UAF with funds provided by the provincial government. He said the federal government had promised funding for construction of another girls’ hostel on campus.
Acting DCO Ijaz Khaliq Razaqi said the launch of the WoW programme in Faisalabad was commendable. He urged women to benefit from the programme and to contribute to the country’s socio-economic development. He assured full cooperation of the district administration for making the programme successful.
The ceremony also featured an all-women bicycle ride around the campus.
MPAs Madiha Rana, Dr Najma Afzal, Fatima Fariha, Haji Ilyas Ansari, Jafar Ali, Faislabad CTO Arif Shahbaz Wazir and Atlas Honda Manger Tasneem Shuja were also present on the occasion.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 12th, 2016.
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