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Ensuring women’s development

Gender budgeting, an exclusive budget reforms for women in development, education, health, industrial and welfare sectors, etc., is being practised all over the world, including our neighbour India.

Gender budget defines policies and planning with equal benefits for women and men. The final objective of this budgeting is to shape budgets so that they actively promote gender equality.

Real development can happen only when there is a balance in the development of men and women. However, in developing countries women usually remain deprived. The most famous way to bridge the gap is through gender budget initiatives.

Awareness has been generated in different parts of the world. Various countries have taken initiatives to bridge the gap, through gender budgeting, at their national or grassroots’ level.

Gender budgeting initiatives were designed as an application of gender mainstreaming, current international approach to promoting equality between women and men. As budgets involve all government ministries and departments, gender budgeting initiatives provide a practical opportunity for government officials across ministries to develop skills to apply gender tools to their work programmes.

Gender budgeting, or gender-sensitive budgeting, is the process that shows what percentage of a national budget benefits men and women respectively. It shows whether allocations contribute to gender equality. An important aim of this budgeting is to allocate funds so as to improve the position of women, hence contributing to gender equality, increasing women’s participation in economic decision-making and budgetary processes.

Gender budgeting not only aims at an increased participation of women, but at an overall increase of citizen’s understanding of budgetary issues.

It is, therefore, important to not only look at the planned budgetary measures, but to also evaluate the actual spending and their effects on women and men.

I had made some such proposals during the second tenure of Benazir Bhutto (1993-1996), who started the Prime Minister’s Women Health Programme.

Now we hope to reactivate the programme, to be known as Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Women Health Programme, in which recruitment of lady doctors and health visitors will be a top priority of the government which should reallocate appropriate funds, specially for child and maternal facilities, at union council level of every district.

The gender budgeting proposals include :
– Women teachers’ appointment at primary level.
– Scholarships for girl students from Classes V to X.
– Introduction of women recruitment/employment policy in every sector of life.
– Change in discriminatory promotion policy for women.
– Hostels for working women and shelter homes for shelterless women.
– Appointment of more women judges in family courts.
– Reactivating women police stations and women banks.
– Providing easy credit for small-scale businesses, including cottage, industries, the minimum credit amount being Rs300,000 without any guarantee and security.
– Appointment of women medical legal officers immediately at district hospital level.
– Provision of agricultural lands to women farmers and landless women.
– Rehabilitation of health training institutions.
– Cows and buffaloes at subsidised rates will be given to women in rural areas to increase their incomes.
– Low-cost housing schemes for divorced, needy and suppressed women, etc.
– Plan to ensure equal opportunities for rural women and those living in remote areas.
– Exclusive budget to minimise death ratio.
– Separate line in Zakat and Baitul Maal fund for women.
– Introduction of adequate Jehaiz Fund.
– Stipend for girls students of primary and higher schools.
– Training opportunities for women in textile, garments and IT sectors.
– Expansion of microfinance for targeting poor women, particularly in rural areas of Sindh and urban slums.
– Establishment of mother child health centres.
The government is also considering ensuring women’s rights and progress. In this regard I have submitted two private bills titled ‘Gender Harassment at Workplace’ and ‘Domestic Violence against Women’.
Women need equal identification, equal rights, equal wages, equal representation in decision-making process as envisioned by Benazir Bhutto.
Source: Dawn
Date:7/11/2009

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