LAHORE: Punjab Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW) on Wednesday launched the third Punjab Gender Parity Report (PGPR) 2018. The report was significantly built upon its predecessors and provides a comparison over years on key women-related indicators in six thematic areas. PGPR is a compilation of analysis and a number of key findings across demographics, governance, health, education, economic participation, opportunities and justice. It was provided an implementation status of Special Initiatives introduced by the government of Punjab. While, the objective of this report was to advocate for policy-making based on data collected and accordingly gender sensitive and citizen-responsive budgeting in all sectors. Chief Guest Malik Muhammad Rafique Rajwana has appreciated the report’s findings in providing the government an opportunity to effectively respond to the needs of local populations through targeted policies and development programmes. Speaking on the occasion, Finance Minster Aisha Ghaus Pasha acknowledged the Commission’s efforts in also relaying updates in the implementation of policy and administrative measures in Punjab. Further, to interests of women in the province, compliance with 15 percent quotas for women in public sector employment, women’s enrolment in skills development programmes, scholarships awarded to women and girls, hostel facilities in women’s colleges, special health services and programmes were introduced specifically for women. Results of the 2018 census revealed that the population of Punjab is 110 million with 51 percent and 49 percent women. Annual population growth rate of Punjab is 2.13 percent, lower than the national average of 2.41 percent and that of the other provinces. Further, the PGPR 2018 report claimed that the female labour force participation rate for Punjab stands higher than the national average of 22 percent. There has been a 13 percent increase in female voter registration in Punjab from 2013 to 2017. These positive trends hope to pave the way for the achievement of greater political, social and economic empowerment of women in Punjab. “Punjab’s landmark laws, policies and programmes are working to ensure that the state of women in the province improves at every step. It is hoped that this comprehensive report will allow policy makers to precisely identify and address institutional gaps that case gender inequality and prevent women’s empowerment,” PCSW Chairperson Fauzia Viqar said. The report also points out that despite significant steps taken to prevent violence and protect women in 2016, there were 7,678 reported cases of violence against women in 2017, an increase of 5 percent from 7,313 cases in 2016. By the end of 2017, a total of 66,293,547 people in Punjab had CNICs of which 59 percent were men and 41 percent women. Further, women in Punjab constituted 44 percent of the beneficiaries of social security services provided by Punjab Social Protection Authority in 2017. The government’s aim to have a minimum of 15 percent women in public sector employment is steadily being implemented. However, challenges to women’s participation in employment and decision-making remain. Status of women revealed in PGPR depicts the vulnerabilities faced by women due to gender inequality, discrimination, lack of adequate education and economic opportunities. Published in Daily Times, May 31st 2018.