First Lady Begum Samina Alvi Monday urged womenfolk to make concerted efforts for their economic empowerment without any compromise to social norms and values. Addressing a conference organized by Rotary Club of Karachi-Crown, she said the government was making all-out efforts to help women, pertaining to different socio-economic sections, gain economic independence as this was equally important for the society in general. Begum Alvi in this regard referred to series of schemes initiated during the past few years, including those by State Bank of Pakistan offering special loan packages, with zero or very low mark-up, for small entrepreneurs, mainly the women. She said any effort to address the fulfilling of collateral conditions was highly appreciable as it was often a difficult option for most women. Begum Alvi said special attention was being paid towards women under the Ehsaas Programme adding measures being adopted for economic empowerment of women, were further being complemented through steps taken for their social protection. Protection of women against harassment,safety at workplace, equal employment opportunities were actually the rights guaranteed to citizens under the Constitution and its proper implementation was a collective responsibility, she added. Quoting Surah Nisa, she said this manifested the fact as how much importance was accorded to women under the religion – Islam. Highlighting the importance of economic independence of citizens in general, she said attention was equally needed to be paid towards proper grooming and rehabilitation of people with any form of impairment. The wife of President Alvi regretted that many of the women were not supported or encouraged by their own families adding that the situation was, however, gradually changing and a growing number of young girls could be witnessed, venturing into different fields, that were previously not specific for them. Samina Alvi said contributions being made by rural women to the economy could not be ignored but this unfortunately was not duly enumerated. Earlier a panel discussion, moderated by Shehnaz Ramzi was held with Khushbakht Shujaat (politician cum educationsit), Mehtab A Rashdi (former civil servant and currently a social activist), Suboohi Zeeshan, Dr. Nadia Farhan and Mussarat Misbah (business women) as the participants. The speakers discussed the challenges being faced by working women and shared their respective experiences to brave the same. Farah Javed, Chairperson of Women Empowerment Committee, RCK (Crown) offered a vote of thanks.