LAHORE: The gender bias in budgetary allocations needs to end as not empowering a major chunk of the educated population through budgetary resources will never let substantial GDP growth happen.
This was said by guests at the Jang Forum held in relevance with the past trend and future merits of budgetary allocation vis-à-vis women. The guests at the forum were experts, including Prof Dr Qais Aslam, representative Civil Society Umm-e-Laila, Economist Prof Dr Nadia Tahir and LCCI member Executive Committee Shahla Intesar. The forum was hosted by Moayyed Jafri.
Prof Dr Qais Aslam said there was a large number of women in the field of education and health especially which signified that the women of this country had potential to contribute positively. He said if this national resource was not utilised it would be discouraged into a zero-sum game. He said women comprised 50 percent of our population; therefore, the allocations should do justice to their proportion. He pointed out that the funds allocated for the women development programmes were not utilised all year long which was surprising considering the potential. He proposed a probe into this matter.
Representative Civil Society Umm-e-Laila said the cosmetic representation of women in the system needed to end and there should be meaningful and purposeful representation backed by trust in their abilities that should be reflected through the resources entrusted with them. She called for an increase in the budget of social protection. She proposed that cottage industry dominated by women needed to be coupled as export industry to get true value.
Dr Nadia Tahir said the schemes designed for women development comprised only five percent of the total schemes which showed the state of imbalance in national budgetary policy. She opined that there should be schemes that facilitate proactive contribution of women in the national economy. She appreciated the Benazir Income Support Programme in this regard and called for establishment of day-care centres to help educated mothers.
LCCI member Executive Committee Shahla Intesar said that over 197 million women owned businesses but unfortunately, the number in Pakistan was alarmingly low due to the policies of the previous and current governments. She said, ‘it is a fact that 99 percent of women return the loans they borrow which shows they are capable of generating revenue in business.’ She proposed special soft loans for women who intended to become entrepreneurs. She called for skill building technical education for women.