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Gender Reform Action Plan’ finalised

KARACHI, January 31,2005:or Women Development Dr Saeeda Malik has said, while talking to a group of women belonging to different strata of society here on Sunday, that her ministry has prepared a ‘Gender Reform Action Plan (GRAP)’ aimed at ameliorating the lot of the women and empowering them in every walk of life.

Dr Saeeda said that the comprehensive plan would include institutional reforms, political reforms, public sector employment quota, women’s education, and their representation in the Sindh Public Service Commission, etc.

The plan, whose draft was approved last year, is hoped to change the destiny of the women of Sindh. The minister said that the government was striving to empower women financially, particularly in the rural areas of the province.

She said that two projects had been approved for skill development of women besides setup of sales, display and resources centres with a view to provide them a platform for gaining economic independence.

The minister said that the government was concerned about providing women with equal opportunities in earning their livelihood with dignity. She said that material would be provided to these skilled rural women for making handicraft, which they could sell in the Bachaat Bazaars, adding that those who had no money would be provided free stalls at these bazaars.

Dr Saeeda also said that talks were under way with the First Women’s Bank to facilitate the women in handling of their business affairs. She said that to encourage the girl child enrolment in the schools, there is an incentive of stipend of Rs200 per child.

She said that free textbooks and uniform were also being distributed in various schools of the poorest districts of the province, viz. Thatta, Badin and Mirpurkhas under the ‘Tawana Pakistan Scheme’ funded by the Baitul Mal.

The minister further said that children were also being provided with a meal a day to take care of their nutritional needs, adding that they were given iron in the multi-vitamin supplement if needed.

She also emphasised that women status will only improve if they were made part of the decision-making. About rehabilitation programme for women in jails, she said a ‘women prisoners and jail committee’, comprising government functionaries, members of the legislators and representatives of NGOs had already been constituted with certain terms of reference.

The aim of the committee is to establish linkage between the home department, jail administration and the human rights agencies working in the field, in order to provide legal aid and protection to the prisoners, especially the innocent.

She said that her ministry had established a ‘women’s complaint centre’ in the secretariat, where the lawyers, social workers, and doctors will be available.

They will be the facilitators to lodge the FIRs if need be of the aggrieved women. Such complaint centre was already working in the Artillery Maidan Police Station, she added.

The minister said that the government had approved a ‘Family Protection Project’ under which crisis and rehabilitation resources centres would be set up.

Source: The News