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Women Development Ministry still rudderless

ISLAMABAD – Although Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani’s cabinet has swelled to record strength of 55 in addition to five others enjoying ministerial status as his advisors, the Ministry of Women Development is still without one.

Besides being headless in political terms, the Ministry has also been suffering from shortage of administrative staff at all levels. So much so that the Ministry does not even have any spokesperson to freed media.

Prior to last cabinet expansion, Information Minister Sherry Rehman had been holding additional charge of the Ministry while its portfolios is yet to be given to a minister since she relinquished the charge. In absence of a minister the officials in the ministry are facing a lot of problems in the implementation of a number of projects of the public importance. Implementation of National Gender Reform Action Plan (GRAP) and Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) are amongst the major projects, practically held in abeyance.

These projects directly in ambit of the Ministry through which it operates at the national and international forums to align policies and structures for enabling the government to comply with the national commitments on gender equality and other related issues.

However, the importance given by the government to the women issues can be gauged well from the fact that only Rs 334.64 million have been allocated in the Public Sector Development Programme 2008-09 for Women Development Division.

Barrister Shahida Jamil, former caretaker minister, Ministry of Women Development, while talking to TheNation said the ministry has been given secondary status. The budget is also limited which doesn’t fulfil the needs of the ministry.

The ministry, which in actually serving as a government advocacy body, has been given the task to highlight the problems of women and to ensure that every policy be made keeping in view the women needs. To accomplish all these targets requires budget and skilled human resource but the ministry still lacks these resources.

It is worth mentioning that the ministry doesn’t have its own building yet and the set up has been established in a rented building. The ministry had also received threats of suicide attacks as it was used during the Lal Msjid Operation still it has not been provided a permanent set up. The only change introduced by the PPP-led coalition government in the ministry was that they had changed the names of the crises centers to help the women facing some sort of violence or aggression, as Benazir Bhutto Shaheed Women Centres.

Out of the total 25 centres across the country only 21 are operational with budget allocation of Rs 41.382 million.
Source: The Nation
Date:11/20/2008

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