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Funds for flood-hit women demanded in coming budget

ISLAMABAD: Last year’s historical flash floods in Pakistan not only brought the life of low-lying areas people to standstill but also deprived them of all belongings. This disaster left millions across the country jobless, hopeless and hapless. Among the worst victims, women of Pakistan were alone there to bear the brunt.

Viewing this catastrophe, a caravan of women on Tuesday outside Fatima Jinnah Park demanded that all the women who were the victims of these floods should be allocated special funds in the upcoming new fiscal year, for their rehabilitation and sustainable longstanding for jumpstart. They also reiterated that with the provision of these grants women specific issues including protection from violence, discrimination and hunger as well as land ownership could be solved.

In lieu with marking one year flood anniversary, being organised by ActionAid Pakistan and PODA (Pothohar Organization for Development Advocacy), women from different flood hit areas of Pakistan including Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and South Punjab gathered in rally for the cause of poor women affected heavily by unprecedented floods 2010.

Talking to Daily Times Saba Ahmed from Kot Adu, Basti Murad Wala said her father died few year ago and after flood the people were waiting for the local administration to either take them to relief camps or to provide them with food rations and medical assistance but no one could provide relief her Basti. She said her mother did not receive the Watan Card. Manzoora Bibi, a mother of six children, resident of Tonsa Basti told this scribe that her house was located near Tonsa Beraj that was destroyed by the flood. “This apocalyptic incident affected their financial position and now she has nothing to feed her family,” she said.

She said males in flood-affected areas were mostly job less because economical activities were abolished after the incident. With tears streaming down her face, she said, “I have become a beggar and have no place to go hide and seek shelter.” “People are being made to feel that the displacement is not the state’s problem. This is unfair. Not only the poor disaster management of the government added to our miseries, the disaster itself was the result of government’s poor policy and governance structures.” Another victim, Rizwana from Basti Gasree said.

A 43-year-old Mai Kounjh pleaded that her whole village was totally destroyed by the flood and the people were ready to help themselves, but state must provide an opportunity to improve their lives. Jannat Mai from Kot Adu, a proactive participant of the Caravan said, “Those were the horrible days of our life as massive flood waves came all of a sudden and washed away all of our belonging. In the aftermath of the floods, women found themselves in the most vulnerable situation as there was a marked rise in incidents of domestic violence and gender discrimination in relief and rehabilitation programmes sponsored by the government’.

Sakeena, a women farmer from Layyah said women were also barred from collecting relief material from food distribution centers because of recurrent incidence of harassment and misconduct. She said similarly, women were marginalized in ‘Watan Card’ distribution scheme that affected their morale to cope with emergency situation

The flood victim women Manzoora bibi gave theatrical traditional musical performances outside in Fatima Jinnah Park. The women demanded that government should issue Watan Cards to flood affected women on priority bases, women farmers should be given ownership of land and control over productive resources, and women should be prioritized in the flood rehabilitation process.

Women’s caravan blended with interesting features of folk music, folk dance and interactive street theater attracted a large number of audience and supporters from different sections of the society. Starting from Tuesday, it will end its journey on Wednesday before the National Press Club.

Source: Daily Times

Date:5/25/2011

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