NGO launches gender justice programme
PESHAWAR: The Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, on Monday formally launched a two-year pilot project on gender justice through the Musalihat Anjuman (GJTMA) in Abbottabad and Dera Ismail Khan.
The NWFP minister for local government, Sardar Mohammad Idrees was the chief guest on this occasion. The project will be passed with the financial and technical assistance of the UNDP. The Royal Norwegian Embassy will assist women and other vulnerable sections of the society in improving their condition through safeguarding their rights and lawful entitlements.
The national project, estimated at $1.54 billion, is being launched in six other districts of the country, including Shikarpur and Dadu in Sindh, Attock and Bahawalpur in Punjab, and Quetta and Lasbela in Balochistan.
The Local Government Ordinance (LGO-2001) provides a basic framework for disputes to be resolved through the Musalihat Anjuman (MA). The anjuman to be established at the union council level is envisaged to consist of a selected panel of three persons from the community, who are publicly considered people of integrity, good judgment and respect.
Under the Section 104 of the LGO-2001, any court where the proceedings are pending may refer the cases to the Musalihat Anjuman for its resolution with the consent of the parties.
The Anjuman is to be appointed by the Insaaf committees, which in turn is to be elected by the union councils amongst the UC members, under Section 88 (N) of the LGO.
However, during the first tenure of the local government, neither the Insaaf Committees, nor the panel of the Musalihat Anjuman, were formed due to a lack of knowledge regarding the LGO provisions among the officials, the lack of commitment, the non-existence of detailed rules of business for the functioning and operation of MAs, the lack of funds and the limited role of female councilors.
Provincial secretary LG&RDD, Baz Muhammad Khattak said that most people consider gender issues as part of western agenda, adding that many consider it an assault on cultural norms, but the fact remains that women in Pakistan are exposed to more discrimination in all walks of life which results in a natural imbalance. He said that the Musalihat Anjumans would be used as an effective forum for curbing, not only gender violence, but also an alternate dispute resolution forum at the grassroots level. Ms Faiza Effendi, assistant resident representative UNDP’s gender unit, explained the UNDP’s commitments and initiatives with the government to empower Pakistani women.