By Abdullah Zafar
KARACHI – The fiscal year 2016-17 witnessed an increase of 149 percent in the budget for the Women’s Development Department. It was expected that the provincial government of Sindh led by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), which talks about increasing women’s role in every sector, would achieve some better results in terms of women’s development by the end of the year. However, with almost a month of the ongoing fiscal year left behind, spending on women’s development initiatives has been dismal.
Not a single penny was spent on eight of the 11 development projects initiated by the Women’s Development Department. Of these projects, four are ongoing and four are new.
The ongoing development schemes where no amount was spent by the provincial government are working women’s hostels, Women’s Development Complex in Shaheed Benazirabad District, Advocacy for Women Empowerment in Sindh programme and the programme for mediation for women at all divisional headquarters in Sindh through the Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR).
An amount of Rs79.104 million was allocated for these projects, but just Rs31.439 million was released for two projects. However, no amount was spent on these projects.
All newly announced projects by the provincial government were not approved and no amount was released for them. An amount of Rs223.396 million had been allocated for these projects. These include Women’s Development Complex in Karachi, Complaint Cells in 16 cities in the province, a project for improvement in livelihood and wellbeing of Female Home Based Workers (FHBWs) with the help of JICA and establishment of Skill Development Centre for Women with disabilities in Karachi.
There were only a few projects, which got some attention and money from the provincial government. An amount of Rs 0.817 million was spent from the total released amount of Rs17.977 million on Implementation of Gender Reforms Action Plan for Sindh. An amount of Rs0.843 million out of the released amount of Rs10 million was spent on establishment of Women’s Development Complex in Sukkur and an amount of Rs1.541 million out of Rs19.532 million was spent on establishment of three Day Care Centres in Karachi and one each at divisional headquarters in Karachi, Hyderabad, Sukkur, Larkana, Shaheed Benazirabad and Mirpurkhas.
When contacted, Women’s Development Department Secretary Mudassir Iqbal said that spending by the department had been on the lower side because projects were in the pipeline. He said that allocation for the department was likely to be increased by 50 percent, as some major projects involving advocacy and women’s development complexes at district headquarters were in the pipeline.