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Female MPAs in Punjab denied development funds

By Rana Kashif

LAHORE: The Punjab Assembly has not been issuing development funds to women members of the provincial assembly (MPA) despite repeated promises of allocating the grants.

Female MPAs and human rights workers said the act was against the policy of empowering women, which included bringing them to legislative assemblies and providing them a stake in the country’s decision-making process.

Human rights workers said women parliamentarians were merely “show pieces” without the grant of funds to serve the people in their respective constituencies.

They said such an attitude instilled a sense of inferiority among the female members, as men were granted proper funds by the government and had more say in various policy matters.

The female members expressed fear that this attitude would hurt their political careers, as no one would want to vote for them.

Some of them also complained that they could not face the people in their constituencies to whom they had made promises of development works on behalf of the Punjab government.

An MPA from the Punjab Assembly, requesting anonymity, said that on one hand the government was claiming to champion the cause of empowering women, and on the other they were treating women in the House as inferior.

She said despite repeated promises on the floor of the House, no development funds had so far been issued to female MPAs.

PPP MPA Sajida Mir said not a single penny from the promised development funds had been issued to female members so far.

She said despite repeated requests from female MPAs and assurances by the government, funds had not been released.

Allocation: PML-Q MPA Qamar Amir Chaudhry said the government had announced allocation of Rs 8 million to each female member for development funds and were asked to submit plans of development schemes.

But even after the submission of schemes plans, no funds were released, and the MPAs were again asked to submit scheme plans.

“When we resubmitted the plans, we were told that Rs 8 million will be released for the year 2008, but only Rs 2 million will be released for 2009,” Qamar said.

She said in this manner, the total funds for the two years amounted to Rs 10 million instead of Rs 16 million, and adding to the miseries was that not even the reduced grants had been issued so far.

Another PML-Q MPA Amina Jehangir said it was shameful the way female MPAs were being treated.

PML-N members Tayyaba Zameer and Farah Deeba said that although no funds had so far been released, the matter was in process.

They claimed that the grants would be released soon. Noted human rights activist Hina Jilani said it was discriminatory not to issue funds to female MPAs.
Source: Daily Times
Date:12/24/2009

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