During election 2013, PPP promised women that their job quota in public entities would be increased by 20 percentage point. This promise was made with the women of the entire country. After the 2013 election, PPP could not make government anywhere in the country except in Sindh. It could have been much easier to fulfill this promise at the province level, but with the new election hardly one year away, women job quota in public sector had been increased only by 0.1 percent, or 2 percentage point, taking the existing 5 to seven percentage point in Sindh. And a total of 3,500 jobs were promised against the 0.1 percent increase, according to Women Development Department Sindh officer.
According to the former Chief Minister of Sindh, Syed Qaim Ali Shah, it was the dream of Benazir Bhutto to empower women financially through an increased job opportunity. Shah recalled Bhutto’s words on the occasion of announcing Sindh government’s initiative to increase women job quota from five to seven percentage point in November 2015.
While the PPP government was planning through its Women Development Department to give more job opportunities to women, its police took the possession of the working women hostel in Shaheed Benazirabad. The hostel was built at the cost of Rs 13.2 million. The hostel is still functioning as police station.
Though the Sindh government had been efficient in proposing new policy initiative for women and enhancing annual budget for women development, a sharp incongruity has been observed between the action and performance of the Sindh government. Many projects, at least five out of seven total from last year were taken forward to 2016-17 budget. Similarly, according to the Sindh Ombudsman Report 2016, during the first seven months of 2016, 92 cases of women harassment had been recorded in different parts of Sindh.
Shehla Raza, the Deputy Speaker of the Sindh Provincial Assembly (who belongs to PPP), in an Interview with Truth Tracker, said the quota for public jobs for women had been increased to seven percent. She added that in the remaining years of the present tenure her government would try to add a few more percentage to the quota.
“Though we could not form the government in Center we have tried our level best to improve the job conditions for the working women in Sindh. Our government will keep putting the welfare of women at the core of its development agenda. We have done legislation on women’s rights during our last tenure and have kept the tradition alive to date,” Shehla said. She also stated that if PPP couldn’t form a government in the Center, it did not mean PPP had forgotten its promises. “It has already fulfilled its promise though only by 2 percentage point,” said Raza.
She told Truth Tracker that when in power during 2008-13 the PPP government more than 3,000,000 women benefited from the Benazir Income Support Program. Also, the Sindh Government gave 1,75,000 jobs to women. Women were also given the right to gain from land distribution laws and secure business loans.
Arshad Vohra, MPA Sindh Assembly Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM), told Truth Tracker that the Sindh government did not follow its promise in letter and spirit. “A government that has no vision to take the mega-city forward – can one expect it to do any good for women?” Vohra said. He told Truth Tracker over the phone that PPP’s promise to increase the job quota for females does not conform with reality.
“It’s a mere political statement. The PPP is good at making an impression by making laws on sensitive issues that could earn it audience nationally and internationally.”
He added, “The PPP’s manifesto is nothing but a dreamland that has nothing to do with the reality on the ground.”
Jam Zulfiqar Ali, the member of PML-F, endorsed Vohar and rejected PPP’s claim that it has been serious in women development leave along creating a decent increase in job quota for women in the public sector.
“Look at them, with a 2 percentage point increase PPP is trying to create an impression as if it has earned a landmark as far as women development is concerned,” he said.
I.A Rehman, Sectary General, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, said that though PPP has been very progressive about legislation concerning women, their performance in Sindh has not been up to the mark. “With 2 percentage point increase in the quota, not much is possible,” he added.
It is also not enough that the government raises job opportunities but remain dismal in improving work conditions for them, he said.
“The rising trend in harassment at the public space in Sindh is alarming,” said Rehman.
Though the PPP government has been able to increase job quota for the working women by 2 percentage point, taking it up from the original 5 to 7 percentage point, it has not been able to fulfill its promise of 20 percentage rise. With election year starting next year it seems impossible if the government with its existing economic condition could make to its promise.