RAWALPINDI, June 19: The Ministry of Women Development has decided to expand the network of Women Crisis Centres across the country during the next financial year.
Official sources told Dawn that 39 new centres would be added to the present network of 25 centres. The new centres would be in addition to those soon to be functional at Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar, Mianwali, Quetta, Kohat, Sahiwal, Rawalpindi, Sialkot, Faisalabad, Multan, Bahawalpur, Mirwala, Hyderabad, Nawabshah, Sibi, Abbottabad, Mirpur, Jacobabad, Khushab, Dera Ghazi Khan, Khuzdar and Swat.
Although the ministry has announced setting up of new centres, it has not been able to succeed in making operational the centres on which work had started last year. One such Centre is in Rawalpindi which is not yet functional. While there is no follow up at the Ministry’s own level, the District Government is also least interested in the Centre.
During the fiscal year 2008-09, the new Centres would be set up at Attock, Chakwal, Gujrat, Jhang, Rahim Yar Khan, Bahawalnagar, Layyah, Larkana, Mirpurkhas, Sukkur, Shahdad Kot, Dadu, Sanghar, Badin, Chitral, Batkhela, Bannu, Dera Ismail Khan, Haripur, Charsadda, Mardan, Zhob, Turbat, Gwadar, Panjgur, Chaman, Dal Bandin, Lasbela, Gilgit and Skardu.
The Crisis Centres provide temporary shelter and protection to women in crisis besides basic legal, medical and counselling services. The first Women Centre was established in Vehari in 1999 during the tenure of Tehmina Daultana, the then federal minister for women development.
Sources said that the ministry has also decided to launch a nation-wide project “awareness through media for womenÂ’s development” in the provinces, Fata, Northern Areas and Azad Kashmir. The basic aim and objective of the proposed campaign is to mobilise communities with a special focus on the women rights issues. The awareness campaign would be launched through television in national and regional languages, print media and regional press.
Sources in the Ministry of Women Development said the government was committed to providing favourable environment to women to play an effective role in economic and social sector development.
Majority of women lives in rural areas, and they were still beset with low literacy, poor health and nutrition.
Literacy, access to employment opportunities in all sectors of economy, change in the perception of women’s roles and status, and public voice both within and outside of the political process are the challenges contorting women.