ISLAMABAD: With funds being allocated and finances being earmarked for the next fiscal year, women lawmakers in the National Assembly made it clear on Wednesday that they would not stand for gender discrimination in the disbursal of development funds.
Women from both sides of the aisle, both inside and outside at the opposition’s awami assembly, called vociferously for the funds to be released to all members during the budget debate.
“These funds are being misused as political bribes,” said PPP’s Shahid Rehmani, recalling how money is being funnelled into the constituencies of chosen ruling party lawmakers.
Jamaat-i-Islami’s Aisha Syed made a forceful case for women to be brought at par with men in the national mainstream.
“When we ask for development funds, they say you have no constituency,” she observed dryly, and called for an end to gender discrimination in the award of development funds.
She called attention to the plight of widows and mothers of those who had lost their lives due to terrorism, and said that these women were living with trauma but were not offered any respite or recompense.
Inside the house, Naseema Hafeez Panezai of the government-allied Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party proposed that more funds be allocated for the development of women, particularly those in Balochistan.
She regretted the prevailing practice of not doling out uplift funds to women members and called on the government to rectify this.
Talking to Dawn, PPP’s Dr Nafisa Shah, who has been championing the women MNAs’ cause, said that the government seemed unmoved on the issue.
However, she said that the women members would not remain silent on the issue and would soon file a privilege motion in parliament in this regard.
Her last attempt to do so was derailed when some women members of the PML-N withdrew their support for the motion after having signed it.
Talking to Dawn, Saman Jafri of the MQM said that women on reserved seats did not represent just a single constituency. “Since I have come on the Sindh quota, I represent the whole province. Whatever money I receive will obviously be spent on improving the lives of the people in my province, whether they live in urban or rural areas.”