What is there for women in the manifestos of leading political parties?

By: Abdul Moiz Malik
PMLN in its manifesto outlined following health provisions or women:
• 25% decrease in infant’s mortality rates and the maternal mortality rate by provision of health facilities in rural and impoverished areas.
• Mehfuz maan ambulance service will be expanded to shift pregnant women to the hospitals
• Increase in maternity leaves to maximum six and minimum three months.
• Family planning will be strengthened.
To counter harassment against women, PMLN has planned to increase the Anti-harassment cells for women as set up more centers to help women as don under Punjab Women Protection Act along with VAC centres for registeration of complain and prompt actions against incidents of harassment. Identity of women will be kept secret. Mass campaigning to make women cognizant of their basic rights will be carried out.
PMLN also plans to increase the number of women in the hegemony of govt. departments and women faculty in universities along with more employment opportunities for females to inspire a gender balanced working environment. Provision of loans to women to help them set up their businesses and to make them independent is also a part of PMLN’s women empowerment program. Better transport facilities for women to commute.

PTI’s manifesto is heavy on legislation side to ensure the protection of women’s rights and their safety.
An audit of existing federal and provincial women protection laws to identify gaps and undertake legal reforms as part of our commitment to women empowerment and support for reform initiatives to protect the rights of women is part of PTIU’s manifesto. Swift justice for women will be guaranteed along with the reforms of prison system and establishing separate special juvenile detention centres and prisons for women. Also, part of legislative changes is the strengthening of legal framework to protect women’s inheritance rights to land and property.
Other reforms include increase in the representation of female police officers at police stations for reporting and investigation of complaints/FIRs for gender based crime, improving investigative and prosecutorial process for gender based violence, establishment of gender-based violence courts to provide additional protection and speedy resolution to women victims, improving investigative and forensic procedures for sexual offence cases, increase in resources and capacity of “Dar-ul-Aman” and protective services for women and increase in female participation in public sector by establishing significant quotas for women in local government and boards of public bodies.
Promotion of gender parity by implementing initiatives to increase women’s access to education, healthcare, economic opportunity and legal protection, prioritizing the establishment and upgradation of girls’ schools and stipends to girls and women for continuing their education is part of PTI’s reform agenda for women education.
As far as health for women is concerned, PTI plans to establish a large scale National Maternal Health Programme to provide assisted births along with family health and planning information to women. Doubling the size of the Lady Health Worker (LHW) programme to ensure each woman has access to complete package of LHW services (including family planning, pregnancy management, neonatal care), with adequate training, support and service structure for LHWs.
To provide economic opportunity to women, the party plans to increase state-provided micro-finance available to women and establishing residential and caretaking facilities for working women in urban settings.
Out of all three, PPP has the most comprehensive plan regarding health issues faced by women. Their extensive plan includes:
• Reduction in maternal mortality rate by 2030 to 70 per 100,000 live births, the infant mortality rate to 12 or less per 1,000 live births, and the under-5 mortality to 25 or less per 1,000 live births.
• A Mother and Child Support Programme will be launched to change behavior with respect to health, family planning and early learning. The programme will provide cash incentives to mothers (and families) to make pro-health, pro-nutrition, pro learning and pro-gender equality. The objectives of the programme will be: Maternal health, child nutrition, uptake of supply side,attitudinal change, reproductive Health/Family planning counseling, early childhood development and atabase for monitoring, real-time intervention in maternal and child health.
• Register the appearance of a pregnancy for an ante-natal consultation
• Once a case has been registered in the database, the mother will be provided with a swipe card to maintain a record of her/and the child’s regular interactions with health, immunisation, nutrition and education services, and will receive cash/voucher incentives at each critical stage in the 5-year cycle.
• Ensure service accessibility for family planning services to all child bearing women and their male partners.
• Post pregnancy services and counselling to be given at all birthing stations and antenatal and postnatal wards and outpatient departments
• Training of all new and old lady health workers in advocacy, communication and counselling for effective service delivery related to family planning.
• Special awareness campaigns and mass media communication for advocacy and promotion of family planning and reproductive health
• Legislation for reproductive health rights
• Newborn and Child Health (MNCH), PPHI and nutrition programmes

Plans to take affirmative action for women to serve on all levels of government, judiciary is also part of PPP’s manifesto. PPP will continue electing women on reserved seats in the provincial and national assembly. Progressive increase in reserved seats in the assemblies and Senate from 17% to 33% and measures to ensure that women’s voices are heard at all levels will be ensured. It is also the only party that has showed support for female candidates on general seats within the party and to give full support and backing to its women candidates in order to ensure their best possible chances of successes for the selection of women candidates on both general and reserved seats.
A national catalogue of crimes against women and the status of court cases will be created and a Special Pubic Prosecutor appointed to pursue cases of violence against women. The National Commission on the Status of Women will be strengthened by increased financial and administrative autonomy as envisaged in the law. Ensuring immediate implementation of pro-women laws related to honour killing, gang rape, acid burn victim, inheritance, divorce, dowry, child maintenance, sexual harassment, early childhood marriage, etc. Establishing functional Crisis Centres for Women at various level for immediate legal and psychological support, are all part of legislation to help women.
Women’s business councils will be established with the support of federal and provincial business and traders chambers at all levels. PPP also focused heavily on bringing more women into agriculture sector with the help of Benazir Women Agricultural Workers Programme.

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