By Zubeida Mustafa
HOW will women be affected by the devolution process under way in line with the Eighteenth Amendment? The relative silence from them – compared to the deafening noise from the pro and anti HEC lobbies – suggests that women are not concerned.
Devolution will not affect women in the same way as is the case with higher education which has been exclusively in the federal domain until now. Women’s development has been as much a provincial issue – if not more – as it has been the concern of the federal government. Senator Raza Rabbani, who is supervising the implementation of the Eighteenth Amendment, is reported to have announced that the Ministry of Women Development (MoWD) will be devolved in the third stage, that is by June.
Few would quarrel with this move because having a multiplicity of bodies to do one job does not prove to be very productive like the proverbial excess of cooks who spoil the broth. Every province already has its Department of Women Development (DWD) entrusted with the “vital role of catalyst, lobbyist and influencer to attain the prime objective of women empowerment through gender mainstreaming”. This is how the Sindh DWD defines its mission. True, the provincial bodies may not have performed as well as they are expected to. But that only highlights the need to look into and rectify the factors that handicap them.