MMA govt not to set up department for women
PESHAWAR – The Mutahidda Majlis-i-Amal government in NWFP is contemplating a proposal to establish a separate Zakat and Usher Department instead of establishing an independent Women Development Department.
The formation of the department for women’s development wasproposed under the Gender Reform Action Plan, funded by the Asian Development Bank, and was aimed at enhancing the capacity of government departments to improve the status of women in governance.
The establishment of a separate Department for Women’s Development, as proposed under the Gender Reform Action Plan (Grap) was ruled out by the Mutahidda Majlis-i-Amal government, which claimed it had financial constraints.
Grap proposed proposed the formation of the separate department for women to achieve the goal of gender equality, for which a specialised institution or department was required to act as a catalyst to spur the process.
According to an official source the federal and provincial governments had conducted many meetings during the period July 2003 to July 2004) but finally it was decided in a provincial level meeting, that it didn’t suit the NWFP government to establish an independent section for women’s development as it couldn’t shoulder the financial burden of the new department.
The minister for Zakat, Usher, Social Welfare and Women Development Hafiz Hashmat said that a committee headed by the secretary of the department was formed to look into the financial aspects of the proposal.
“ADB would provide funds for only the first two or three years for Grap, but after that the NWFP government would not be in a position to carry the financial burden of the separate department.
So it would be better to keep the Social Welfare and Women Development as one department, and separate Zakat and Usher into an independent department,” Mr Hashmat observed.
The objective of Grap was to address some of the identified and evident gender gaps through reforms in four prioritised key areas: political reforms, administrative/institutional reforms, reforms in public sector employment and policy and fiscal reforms.
The officials said that consultants had estimated the cost of the main gender reforms would cost about Rs 152,633,664. Women activists and NGOs representatives who were invited during the various meeting of the steering committee to discuss the draft on Grap also had expressed dissatisfaction over the MMA government’s indifference towards gender reforms.
“Only one meeting of the steering committee which I attended that MMA government was not concerned about women’s development. “It has taken no initiative since it came to power for the solution of women’s issues,” Bushra Gohar, a woman activist and director of Human Resources and Management Development Centre said.