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LAHORE: The Punjab government has allocated Rs 11.65 billion for women development and population welfare in the budget 2022-23, of which Rs 3.3 billion was earmarked for development schemes and Rs 8.35 billion for non-development expenditure. As per the budget documents, the Punjab government has allocated Rs 2.4 billion for the population welfare development while Rs 900 million for the women development department. The government has shown intent of bridging the vast gender gap that exists in society.

“The entire provincial administrative and planning and development machinery is geared towards bridging this divide. Gender equality and the empowerment of women are cross-cutting issues for all development policies. By strengthening the related institutions and enhancing their capacity, the government aspires to work for the development of women, enhancement of their participation in economic activities, augmentation of their control over financial resources, and reduction of gender disparity in access to education, health, and employment,” it added. Hence, in fiscal year 2022-23, budget allocation pattern indicated a significant rise in allocation over last year’s allocation. Major initiatives to be launched in the fiscal year included the construction of women development office complexes, multipurpose complexes, working women hostels and development centres at a cost of Rs 937.37 million and the establishment of Punjab Day Care Fund (PDCF) Society at the cost of Rs 100 million. Moreover, among other initiatives include establishment of working women hostels in rented buildings at the cost of Rs 15 million and integrating women with disabilities into mainstream at the cost of Rs 40 million. The World Bank assisted Girls’ Results Agenda for the development of the education sector in Punjab is also in a pipeline project, which aims to focus on girls’ education.

Meanwhile, in the next fiscal year, the government’s major initiatives for the population welfare department included Punjab Population Innovation Fund at the cost of Rs 2.54 billion, the construction of Population Welfare House at the cost of Rs 1.07 billion; strengthening of services access and management of family planning programme at the cost of Rs 391.65 million, strengthening of integrated supply chain management information at the cost of Rs 882.76 million, and pre-martial counselling at the cost of Rs 225 million.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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