The Ministry of Women Development should not be devolved to provinces as its status has not been made clear in the constitution. The ministry is neither on the concurrent nor the federal list, thus it would be better if it is given to a separate division.
Officials of the ministry said this during a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Women Development on Tuesday. The committee met at the Parliament House and discussed the proposed devolution of the ministry and its affects.
They strongly advocated establishment of a separate division rather than devolving it to the provinces. Federal Secretary Nuzhat Fatima Batool briefed the committee about the status of the ministry and the implications of the planned devolution.
There is, she said, a need to maintain the status of a women’s division at the centre to deal with international commitments. The ministry commitments with Centre for Economic Development in World Affairs, Beijing Platform for Action and Millennium Development Goals will not be met if it was devolved, she added. She said that Economic Affairs Division and Foreign Office cannot take over the responsibilities because they lack gender experts. Thus, instead of cutting the ministry into pieces, it should be handed over to a single division so that it can continue doing its job, she added.
Another ministry official pointed out how girls’ schools were being blasted in Khyber-Pukhtunkhawa, women were being buried alive in Balochistan and thrown before dogs in Sindh. The official said, “How can we expect these provinces to improve the living conditions of women?”
Senators at the meeting said they would personally meet Senator Raza Rabbani asking him for his support in retaining the ministry and bring a resolution in the house.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 6th, 2011.
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