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Gender Reform Action Plan on the anvil

KARACHI, January 25,2005: Sindh Minister for Women’s Development Dr Saeeda Malik has said that her ministry has prepared a “Gender Reform Action

Plan” (GRAP), aimed at ameliorating the lot of the women and empower them in every walk of life. She said that the comprehensive plan would include institutional reforms, political reforms, public sector employment quota,

Women’s education, and reform, and representation in the Sindh Public Service Commission etc., which would change the destiny of the women of Sindh. The draft of the plan was approved last year. She said the government was striving to empower women financially, particularly in the rural areas of the province.

She said this while talking to a group of newsmen at her office. The first, two projects have been approved for skill development of women-to set up sales and display centres and resources centres with a view to providing them with a platform for gaining economic independence, the minister said. She

said 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 handicrafts 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 Malik said that talks were under way with the First Women’s Bank to facilitate the women in handling their business affairs. She said that to encourage the girl child enrollment in the schools, there is an incentive of a stipend of Rs200 per child plus free textbooks and uniforms were being distributed in the poorest districts of Thatta, Badin, and Mirpurkhas under the “Tawanaa Pakistan” Scheme funded by the Baitul Mal.

Dr Malik said that children were also 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. “How could the status of women improve when they are kept out of the decision-making process”, she said.

About rehabilitation of women in jails, she said a Women’s Prisoners and Jail Committee, comprising government functionaries, members of the legislatures, and representatives of NGOs had already been constituted with certain terms of reference.

She said the committee was aimed at establiishing linkages between Home Department, Jail Administration, and the Human Rights agencies working in the field, to provide legal aid and protection to the prisoners, especially the innocent. She said that to monitor the condition of Jails, especially in terms of diet, doctors, healthcare provided to them during imprisonment, to improve existing facilities mainly providing to them, educational/skill-training activities.

She said that her ministry had established a women’s complaint centre in the secretariat where lawyers, social workers, and doctors will be available. They will be the facilitators to lodge the FIRs of the aggrieved women. She said that one complaint centre is already working in Artillery Maidan Police Station. The minister said that government had approved a “Family Protection Project” under which crisis and rehabilitation resource centres would be set up.
Source: The News