With every change of government comes uncertainty for programs launched by the outgoing government; Uncertainty seeps into the beneficiaries of the programs as they watch politicians bicker over which initiatives merit continuation and which drain the treasury.
The Murgi Palo and Kata Palo programs to empower women, which fueled social media hysteria and memes at the expense of former Prime Minister Imran Khan, didn’t seem like they were going to see the light of day. However, 55-year-old Ghulam Fatima, who hails from a village on the outskirts of Lahore, has been benefiting from the program since 2019.
“This initiative provided a poor widow like me with a monthly income when I had no other hope. So I really hope it doesn’t get closed,” Fatima said.
Although appropriations for the programs have been made in the new budget, it remains to be seen whether implementation will continue as it was under Pakistan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government.
If the history of past initiatives to empower women is any indicator, the future of animal husbandry programs could be a mystery. For example, when the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) was in power in Punjab from 2013 to 2018, it launched various programs to empower and protect women, the most notable of which were the Women on Wheels initiatives and the Establishment of Violence against women were centers.
Women on Wheels, a program designed to increase the mobility of women in Punjab by providing them with scooters, came to an abrupt halt when the PTI came to power in the province.
However, PTI’s programs can find hope for survival from the fact that the PML-N initiative to set up centers for women has actually improved under the PTI, according to Fatima Chadhar, the chair of the Punjab Women Protection Authority. “For the first time, the PTI government has made this agency operational to prevent incidents of violence against women. Prior to 2018, then-Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif was the head of this agency, but the agency only existed on paper.” Chadhar hopes PML-N will continue to improve the centers, as it is an initiative they originally started. Salman Sufi, head of the Prime Minister’s Strategic Reforms Initiative, who was behind Women on Wheels and Women’s Centers in Punjab, gave assurances that all programs would continue. “Our projects are being reactivated and are now being implemented across Pakistan. In the first phase, these projects will be expanded to Punjab and Sindh,” Sufi shared.
However, he gave no light as to whether or not the PTI’s initiatives regarding women’s empowerment would continue. dr However, Amna Siddique, a researcher for women’s empowerment policy, is not at all hopeful for the sequel, despite the reassurances of the Sufi. “Political governments in Pakistan have made statements and demands for women’s empowerment for their own ends, but little has been done in practice,” said Dr. Siddique opposite The Express Tribune.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 22ndnd2022.