LAHORE: EjazAlam, Minister Human Rights and Minority Affairs Department (HR&MA) launched a project ‘Joint Social Action for Inclusive Society’ which will be executed by a youth development organization Bargad. The project will build capacity and involve minority youth to promote unity, equal citizenship rights for all, and cultural cohesion in eight union councils of Lahore. This was briefed during a Webinar to launch the project. The panelists of the Webinar included Mr. EjazAlam, Minister HR&MA, Dr. Sughra Sadaf, Director General, Punjab Institute of Languages and Culture (PILAAC), Mr. Mohammad Yousaf, Deputy Secretary HR&MA and representatives of minority youth Mr. Rakesh Kumar, Ms. SanabilShehzad and Ms. Amber Bajwa. Usman Younus moderated its proceedings with Salma Butt who was resource person for the webinar. The provincial minster EjazAlamsaid that the Human Rights and Minority Affairs Department is committed to implementthe minority empowerment package. The government has already introduced 2 percent quota for minority students in higher education institutions of Punjab and is further taking steps for the betterment of minorities in collaboration with civil society, he added. The Minister vowed to support Bargad’s efforts to promote equal citizenship rights and capacity building of minority youth in eight union councils of Lahore. DrSughra Sadaf, DG PILAAC stressed on the need of cultural diplomacy in order to promote social and cultural cohesion in the society. She appreciated the role of Bargad in the promotion of positive cultural values, traditions and the diversity of Pakistan. Mr. Mohammad Yousuf, Deputy Secretary Human Rights and Minority Affairs department, Punjab gave a detailed overview of the efforts of the department for minority affairs which are also in line with Government’s prioritized Goal 10 & 16 of the SDGs: reduce inequality; and promote inclusive societies for sustainable development. The government is implementing development schemes, CM’s special package and projects of data collection, scholarships for minority students, renovation of religious places of minorities, infrastructure and capacity building and others for betterment of minorities in Punjab. Ms. Amber Bajwaspoke about the issue of hate speech, which is multiplied in case of minority women. She stressed its curbingby reporting and educating youth in their early childhood. Ms. SanabilShehzad and Mr. Rakhesh Kumar shared their personal accounts of religious discrimination and hate-speech and said that the educated youth should stay away from such negative thinking. Many students from different universities also joined the webinar including University of the Punjab, Lahore; College for Women University; Kinnaird College for Women; COMSATS; The Gift University, Gujranwala; BahauddinZikriya University, Multan; Minhaj University Lahore; University of Education, Lahore; University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore; Government College University; Queen Marry College; University of Central Punjab Lahore and University of Sargodha.