Monday May 23, 2022

‘Gender accelerators’ being set up for women empowerment

May 13, 2022

Islamabad : ‘Gender accelerators’ are being established at the Planning Commission and all provincial and regional planning and development departments to mainstream gender across policies and programmes for women’s empowerment in the country said planning and development secretary Daud Bareach on Thursday.

He was addressing a high-level meeting held here to disseminate the results of a survey conducted to assess gender conduciveness of work environment in public sector workplaces of the federal capital. The planning secretary said gender accelerators meant to catalyse the country’s progress in reducing the gender gap would help the Planning Commission stimulate, plan, coordinate and monitor high-impact reform interventions through federal and provincial governments, ministries, departments, and relevant private sector partners, expedite evidence-guided programme designing and implementation, strengthen systems and ensure the timely availability of gender data and statistics.

He said policy analysis, evaluations, and policy forums would be held to stimulate reforms on gender progression. Planning Commission member (social sector and devolution) Dr. Shabnum Sarfraz shared the findings of the study, which disclosed that out of the total employees in Islamabad’s public sector ministries and line departments, just 11 per cent were women and only 18 per cent of them worked in BPS-17 and above with the number sharply declining in higher employment scales.

She added that only one per cent of women held top scales. According to her, a total of 552 women participated in the study, which highlighted the need for daycare centres, which were reported in only 35 per cent of the offices surveyed.

Only eight per cent of the ministries have a women-only cafeteria and 27 per cent a women-only staff room, while out of the officers promoted in the last year, only 20 per cent were women.

Over 90 per cent of female staff members considered women-only transport extremely important and 97 per cent declared pick and drop facility for the critical.

Also, 84 per cent of the female staff members were not comfortable with the available public sector transport options, while 88 per cent reported their families to be concerned when they had to use them. The study disclosed that 46 per cent of the respondents reported having experienced an untoward incident or harassment in public transport vehicles.

It said 95 per cent of women officers regarded mentorship and career counselling as extremely important for their career growth, while a negligible number reported being part of any mentorship or counselling sessions. Also, 56 per cent of them wanted them not to be asked to do late sittings and 70 per cent considered harassment at the workplace an issue.

Planning Commission deputy chairman Dr. Jahanzeb Khan, who chaired the meeting, the government recognising the importance of women empowerment as a cross-cutting theme rolled out in the study. He asked the Establishment Division to review recruitment policies and ensure that all job advertisements remain open to both men and women in the public sector.

Dr Jahanzeb asked for gender studies to be made part of all senior management courses and said the Ministry of Housing and Works should examine how workplace designs could promote integration while remaining sensitive to female facility requirements at workplaces.

He asked the Planning Commission to set up a dashboard for all activities being executed in this regard and arrange for quarterly monitoring forums and said basic facilities like daycare centres, separate toilets, common rooms, and prayer areas should be in place for women in all workplaces.

The meeting was attended by senior representatives from UNDP, ILO, UNESCO, IOM, UNOPS, UN Women, and UNIDO, who appreciated the policy research led by the Planning Commission and shared their support for executing the recommended activities for making workplaces conducive for women.