ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Women Development revealed on Tuesday that Gender Reforms Action Plan (GRAP), a project of Ministry of Women Development, was closed because it failed to fulfil its mandate.
The committee was summoned by Senator Nilofar Bakhtiar to probe the reasons behind the closure of GRAP. It was disclosed that a total of Rs250 million were allocated to the project last year but the authority spent only Rs84 million. The remaining amount of Rs166 million is yet to be traced.
According to the committee findings, GRAP failed to fulfil its mandate of reducing the existing gender gaps in society and assuring gender equality in all government departments.
Chairperson of Senate Standing Committee on Women Development, Senator Shirala Malik, told The Express Tribune that the biased behaviour of the Ministry of Women Development towards the probe team on the matter of money embezzlement was “discouraging and rude”.
She said that GRAP will be now be institutionalized as a regular and permanent activity by the Ministry of Women Development. “A separate wing will be established and 20 additional posts will be created to exclusively deal with the agenda,” she added.
Senator Nilofar Bakhtiar, who initiated the project in 2005, has demanded that the committee explain why such a major project was closed down without consulting the Senate Standing Committee’s members.
She questioned if the PM had issued a notification for closure of the project. She asked the Ministry of Women Development to provide a list of members in the review panel and minutes of the meeting wherein the decision to close GRAP was undertaken. She also questioned why the ministry did not issue notices to GRAP employees before ending their jobs.
Talking to the Express Tribune, Advisor to the Prime Minister on Women Development Yasmeen Rahman said, “It is true that GRAP could not achieve its mandate.”
She explained that given the reported money embezzlements in the project, a review panel was formed and a meeting was held on June 3 to decide whether the project should be continued.
Based on the recommendations submitted by the panel to the Prime Minister, the project was shut down on June 30, 2010.
Secretary Ministry of Women Development Batool Iqbal Qureshi said that all three evaluations conducted by Auditor General of Pakistan revealed that GRAP was not able to achieve the desired objectives.
The secretary said that the project could not succeed in improving the status of women or ensure gender equality through fiscal, political, legal and institutional reforms in government structures. She said that grants issued by the project for revision of business rules and gender development were allocated without considering the needs of the districts.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 11th, 2010.
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