The performance of the Sindh women development department in the ongoing fiscal year has remained as unsatisfactory as it had been in the past many years. The dismal state of affairs can be judged from the poor use of funds. The entire amount of Rs13 million released for uplift schemes meant to benefit the weaker sex has remained unutilised, though the province accounts for 27% of the violence committed against women in the country. Finance department officials say they have no idea what became of this money. The finance department’s figures reveal that work on the planned 90% projects has not even been initiated even though sufficient funds had been made available.
In the budget for the outgoing fiscal year, Rs34 million had been set aside for setting up a women’s complex in Karachi, and Rs8 million had been released for it, but nothing has been spent. Likewise, Rs26 million had been earmarked for the welfare of female home-based workers, and Rs13 million had been released, but the utilisation has been zero. Home-based workers are exposed to exploitation so it was a much-needed scheme. The government’s allocation of funds had kindled much hope among these workers, but things did not move beyond promises. Another significant project was to establish a planning and monitoring cell in Karachi, and Rs8 million had been released for it, but nothing has been spent.
The ministry was also to spend Rs9 million on setting up complaint cells in various districts of the province to facilitate women. Here too the utilisation of funds is zero. Now there is a complaint cell only in Karachi with inadequate staff. Such complaint cells have been set up at SSP offices in some districts, but these have failed to serve the purpose due to lack of awareness campaigns. The Sindh Commission on the Status of Women has failed to bring about notable change in the plight of women, as it has remained dormant. Low literacy mainly accounts for the gap between promise and reality.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 14th, 2021.
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