By Farzana Raja
The women in Pakistan have suffered long under a class male domination and subjugation, whereas social and cultural taboos have prevented them from participating in the development of the country. The women have also been denied the freedom to make their financial decisions. This stifling environment and lack of opportunities have left the womenfolk at the mercy of others who decide their fate.
Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, who was a staunch supporter of women emancipation and the greatest proponent of women’s progress as an active participant of the society, proved to the world that women have the capability and the will to achieve anything they set their mind to. She strove for emancipation of Pakistani women and furthered their cause by creating socio-economic opportunities for them. By galvanizing all resources to resurrect the dignity of womenfolk and elevating their status in the society she ensured women in Pakistan had equal access to health and education. During Shaheed Benazir Bhutto’s tenure as prime minister administrative measures were taken and legislation was done to promote the well being of a population that had previously suffered due to slack policies.
The Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) is a major step taken by the government to realize the aspirations of women and help them stand against prejudices that had proved detrimental to their growth as active members of society. It is a programme exclusively focused on the female members of the society. Womenfolk are BISP’s main beneficiaries as they are the one entitled to receive financial assistance from the programme, thus elevating their status in their family as well as in the society by improving their household’s economic health.
BISP is the most pragmatic programme to help bring women to the foreground of the national set-up. By allocating the highest budget for alleviation of poverty through an assurance that women play the pivotal role in this programme, BISP symbolizes the aspirations of the women who feel that despite their capacity to achieve and the capability to accomplish they have been rendered helpless due to lack of financial resources.
It ensures that women are the fulcrum of all that emerges on the national horizons benefiting everybody in the ambit of the programme. BISP recognizes this fact and gives impetus to all in the society, whether children, elderly, the active male or anyone else, as all culminate in the existence of woman. With the rise of women to dignity, every member of society also rises, defining a new chapter in national progress by galvanizing the women of Pakistan as a resource for national efforts and success.
In its myriad facets BISP ensures one simple yet very significant factor, elevating the status of women and creating a harmony between their efforts and all the dimensions that effectuate provision of their rights. By synchronizing her role as an active member of society with the transparent distribution of funds to support her ambitions, BISP has become a movement and has transcended all norms to create space for womanhood. It aims to become the harbinger of a welfare state which originates in the women and who are a major component of national progress.
BISP, in its two-pronged approach is ensuring that the allocated budget is distributed through a regular financial support of Rs2000 every two months and at the same time extends a totally effective financial support in the form of the Waseela-e-Haq scheme. It is a programme, which grants an amount of Rs 300,000, which is returnable in 15 years without any interest, to families registered with BISP through a computerized balloting. It aims to enable the recipient family to gain complete financial independence by starting a business.
BISP is the biggest step ever taken by a government for women emancipation as it sanctifies women’s rights which had been denied to them for various reasons and at the same time protects all that makes her vulnerable. It is shaping the progress of women.
With an initial allocation of Rs34 billion in 2008-2009, the third largest or 0.3% of the budget and Rs70 billion earmarked for 2009-2010, it will ensure that 5 to 7 million families benefit from the most effective social safety net ever by a government in next two years. Data verification and all other measures, supporting a transparent procedure in the distribution of funds, is a true reflection of the government’s sincere efforts for the emancipation of women.
BISP will forever, Inshallah, remain an eternal tribute to Women’s Day and womanhood as it defines and augments the parameters to change the destiny of the nation in which the woman plays a definite role. Once again I salute the dignity of women of Pakistan. The writer is a federal minister/chairperson of Benazir Income Support Programme.
Source: The News