Sadia Qasim Shah
PESHAWAR: The Provincial Commission on the Status of Women is a lame duck and should be empowered to manage its financial and administrative affairs for better functioning.
This was stated by PCSW chairwoman Zubaida Khatoon during a function organised here to mark the commission’s second anniversary. PCSW members and women rights activists showed up.
Currently, the social welfare and women development department oversees the PCSW financial and administrative affairs.
Ms Zubaida said during the first year of the commission’s formation, she had taken great pains to make team and plan things in absence of a proper office.
She said members of the commission often had to sit down on a piece of carpet in absence of furniture and held a meeting and that on many occasions, some members brought in personal computers for the commission’s work.
The PCSW chairwoman said during those difficult times, women rights activists and media put a barrage of questions to her about the commission’s achievements since establishment.
She said the commission, which was formed on May 12, 2010, held first meeting in July 2010 followed by monthly meetings to plan activities.
Ms Zubaida said there were no funds, no staff and no properly-equipped office for the commission between July 2010 and June 30, 2011 and that the commission’s office was equipped in February this year. She said she had regularly been organising the commission’s meetings on various issues since July 2011.
The PCSW chairwoman regretted that even today, the commission was without a fully-equipped office and proper staff as the social welfare department delayed the processing of the CVs of the candidates.
She demanded that like National Commission on the Status of Women, the commission be given the powers to manage its financial and administrative matters on its own. Ms Zubaida said over the last two years, she and the commission’s members had learnt a lot, including the government procedures and loopholes in them.
“Since the commission’s establishment, we learnt a lot, especially from our bitter experiences. In a case, I nearly missed jail,” she said.
The PCSW chairwoman faced the Peshawar High Court’s annoyance after she along with other civil society activists took away the newborn baby of an alleged gang rape victim.
However, she was cleared after the baby was returned to mother and the court accepted her point that she and others took her away for security reasons without knowing it could land them in trouble.