LAHORE: Governor Salmaan Taseer and Farzana Raja, distributed 140 cheques of Rs100,000 each to poverty-stricken women from all over the Punjab.
The cheques were given under the Benazir Income Support’s Waseela-i-Haq Programme.
Governor SalmaanTaseer declared the BISP a welfare programme better than what some developed countries have.
Tahira Parveen, a mother of five who belongs to Kasur, waited anxiously for her name to be announced. Parveen plans on opening a food store with the money. As a BISP beneficiary Parveen was taught how to manage finances of a shop in a training session. “None of my children have ever attended school. This will go a long way for me and my family,” she told The Express Tribune excitedly.
Sitting next to her was Rasheeda Bibi who intends to start a fruit shop and hopes that she will generate enough income to pay for the weddings of her five children. “The Rs100,000 seems overwhelming. It is a starting point for my family who have been peasants for generations,” Rasheeda said. The Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) chairperson, Farzana Raja, said, “Today should mark the beginning of a concerted effort towards the idea of welfare state,” Raja said.
As part of the BISP, one million women will be provided life insurance, the premium for which will be paid by the programme.
After the death of a woman who is covered by the insurance, the money will be paid to her heirs in 15 days.
Raja hoped that the women would use the newly-imparted skills to help their families. “The programme’s goal is to empower one person in a family to help her family in getting back on its feet,” Raja said while urging women to invest the money. She told the women receiving the cheques that it was important to educate their children so that they were not lured by extremism.
Under the programme, 150,000 women will also be issued mobile phones by June 2011 so that they can file any complaints or ask questions they might have.
The government also plans to set up call centres in rural areas to facilitate women in filing any harassment complaints.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 1st, 2011.