Thursday, March 8, 2012
Punjab Women Empowerment Package, 2012
Punjab Women Empowerment Package, 2012
Protecting the rights of women, redressing their social and legal grievances and expanding opportunities available to them has been at the heart of the Government of the Punjab’s commitment to the people. Throughout its tenure the Government has responded to the call of aggrieved women against social injustices. In the course of exercising its executive functions, the Government has become acutely aware of inherent imbalances in our legal, social and economic structures that discriminate against women. These impediments are either embedded in our legislation, rules and procedures or in the social norms and attitudes that are followed in the society and together these work to the disadvantage of women.
The present government strongly believes that status quo should not prevail in maintaining systems that do not address women’s core issues. It resolves that such anachronisms, that work to the detriment of women in the society and the economy need to go.
In the countdown to the International Women’s Day on 8th March, 2012, the Government has decided to announce a comprehensive package of measures - “Punjab Women Empowerment Package 2012” that corroborates the government’s firm commitment to addressing the social and economic rights of women who make up half of the population of Punjab. In recommending these measures, the Government has examined social and economic issues faced by women and announces legislative responses to critical areas (such as ensuring the right of inheritance for females, violence against women, etc), new initiatives and other instruments that are expected to have a transformative effect on the lives of women in Punjab.
The recommended Package has two aspects: first, it will provide ways and means to effectively safeguard women’s rights and second, it is expected to have far reaching effects on their socio-economic status by expanding opportunities available to them. A workable, publicly accountable system shall be put in place that ensures that these measures are implemented not just in letter but in their true spirit. The salient features of the Women Empowerment Package, 2012 are:
1. Amendment In Inheritance Laws:
It has been observed that rights of the female heirs are not properly safeguarded due to existing lacunas in the laws and rules governing land administration. Hence, after Inheritance Mutation, partition of the property is being made mandatory through amendment in the law. This will be a landmark step for protection of right to property, in general, and for women right to property, in particular.
In Rural Areas:
The following proposals have been finalized to safeguard property right of female heirs in rural areas :
Upon the death of a land owner, proceeding for inheritance mutation shall proactively be initiated by the Revenue officer forthwith, without moving application by any of the parties, and shall sanction the mutation as soon as possible.
Reference to CNIC and B form will be mandatory while sanctioning inheritance mutation so as to ensure that no legal heir is deprived of his/her Fundamental Right to Property.
Upon sanctioning of inheritance mutation and without application from any of the parties, the Revenue Officer shall forthwith commence proceedings for partition of land.
Penal Action Against Delinquent Revenue Officers:
Historically, Inheritance mutation is sanctioned without legal heirs and later aggrieved parties agitate at different foras. In order to ensure that there is appropriate operation against those delinquent officers who due to collusion, non-exercise of due diligence or malafide intention deprive a legal heir of his/her right or award less share or less valuable land in the mutation/partition. Accordingly, in order to create institutional accountability against any malfeasance or abuse of authority, the Punjab Land Revenue Rules 1968 shall provide for a District Committee for Protection of Right to Inheritance, with the following salient features:
Composition: DCO (to chair), District Attorney, District Public Prosecutor, ADC(R), Assistant Commissioner of the concerned sub-division.
All decisions by appellate/revisional authorities on inheritance mutations wherein it is proved that any of the legal heirs was deprived of his/her Fundamental Right, the appellate/revisional authority, while passing the order for correction of mutation, shall send a copy of the same to the District Committee for Protection of Right to Inheritance.
The Committee will scrutinise the facts reported in the order of the appellate/revisional authority and ascertain whether a legal heir was left out at the first stage due to malafide of the Revenue Officer or any other person, it may order penal action under Pakistan Penal Code, Anti-Corruption Law and/or PEADA.
The Committee shall meet at least once in every month. Minutes of each meeting shall be sent to the Chief Secretary, SMBR, DG (Anti-Corruption) and the concerned Commissioner.
Urban Immovable Property:
Inordinate delays are caused in partition cases in urban areas in the present scheme of things. New laws will be legislated and mechanisms devised for curtailing the delays in the disposal of partition to alleviate the problems being faced by joint owners due to protracted litigation. Salient features of the new system shall be the following:
A joint owner may file a suit for partition of joint urban property by making all the co-owners as respondents / defendants in the suit. The Court shall immediately serve a notice on the defendants / respondents to submit private settlement within 60 days.
If the parties submit the private settlement, the Court shall incorporate such settlement as decree of the Court.If all the parties agree on partition of the joint property through appointment of local commission, the Court shall appoint local commission for partition of the property.
If any party objects to partition of the joint property, the Court shall proceed to auction the property amongst the co-owners after fixing the base price. If a co-owner fails to pay the price in case of being successful in this limited auction, he shall be debarred from participating in the next restricted auction of the joint property amongst the co-owners. If the co-owners fail or refuse to participate in restricted auction, the Court shall order open auction of the joint property giving the co-owner right to participate in open auction.
If any person disputes, title or share in the joint property, the Court shall decide such question before resorting to auction of the joint property. The parties may, at any stage of proceedings before any successful auction, enter into private settlement and the Court shall give effect to such settlement.
The Court shall finally dispose of the suit / proceedings for partition / sale of joint urban property within 6 months from the date of institution of the suit, failing which, the Court shall submit the case to the District Judge seeking extension of time for disposal of the suit / proceedings. The District Judge may, grant extension in time for disposal of the suit / proceedings taking into consideration the facts and circumstances of the case. The proceedings for which no procedure is specified in the proposed law or rules made under it, the Court shall follow the procedure prescribed under the Civil Procedure Code, rules and orders made under it.
Stamp duty shall be waived for partition made effective due to inheritance for both rural and urban properties.
2. Women Protection Laws
Comprehensive legislation will be enacted to provide assistance to the female victims of violence covering all kinds of gender based violence including domestic violence.
3. Harassment at Work Place Act:
The following measures are being taken forthwith for the effective implementation of the law:
The Government appoints an Ombudsperson under Protection against Harassment of Women at the Workplace.
‘Code of Conduct for Protection against Harassment of Women at the Workplace’ shall be implemented in all public offices.
A Provincial Committee is established to oversee implementation of the Act.
4. Offence of Acid Throwing:
i. An amendment will be made in the Poisons Act,1919 to discourage acid throwing incidents on women.
ii. Acid throwing shall be dealt with under the anti- terrorism laws.
A Provincial Board for Acid Burns Survivors and a Fund shall be established to recommend specialized medical and psychological care and its monitoring.
4. Home Based Workers
Government of the Punjab has formulated a policy for the Home based Workers covering the strategies, plans and programs for the protection and promotion of rights and benefit of Home Based Workers who mostly comprise of female workers.
5. Women Crises & Rehabilitation Help Desks
Women Crises & Rehabilitation help desks at district level providing Legal, psychological and basic health referral services shall be provided under the supervision of the DCO and legislated accordingly.
A 24/7 toll free help line shall be established.
6. Property Rights:
The Punjab Government is giving proprietary rights under following schemes:
Jinnah Abadi Scheme in rural areas of Punjab (approx 90,000 households)
Residents of Katchi Abadis (approx110,000 households)
Regularization of residential occupants of state land in village abadis (approx. 700,000 households)
In all the above mentioned schemes, joint title is being given to husband and wife (50% share each).
7. Equal Wages for Work of Equal Value:
8. Media Campaign:
A Media Campaign shall be launched for raising awareness of women on legal issues and rights.
PUBLIC SECTOR EMPLOYMENT AND ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT
1. Public Service:
The following steps are being taken to encourage the role of women in public sector employment:
Quota for women in public service employment including posts recruited through PPSC shall be enhanced to 15%.
Women will fill 25 % of general seats as Members of the Punjab Public Service Commission.
All Boards of statutory organizations, public sector companies and committees as well as special purpose task force and committees shall have at least 33% female representation.
There shall be at least one woman in all selection and recruitment committees for regular and contractual employment.
Government shall take affirmative action to radically increase women representation in all administrative leadership positions (including departmental heads and key field offices).
33% of consultants in Provincial Ombudsman Office shall be women.
All women contractual employees shall be entitled to avail an additional chance of transfer to place of residence of spouse in case of marriage
House rent of only one spouse will be deducted if government accommodation is allotted and both are government servants
2. Maternity Leave:
The following changes shall be made in rules:
Application of maternity leave shall deem to be approved as soon as maternity leave application is moved to the immediate superior
Women will not be required to provide fitness certificate on joining after availing maternity leave.
Maternity leave shall not be less than 90 days. Condition to avail 45 days before and 45 days after will be abolished.
One week paternity leave will be admissible for male employees for two children.
3. Age Relaxation:
Age relaxation upto 3 years shall be allowed to females for fresh induction over and above normal upper age ceiling including existing general relaxation, for the purpose of encouraging employment in the public sector and to enable women to join professional career after marriage & childbearing.
4. Daycare Centers:
The Chief Ministers Day Care Initiative is being announced with the following elements:
A Punjab Day Care Fund is being established to support working women to make workplaces women friendly on a co-finance basis.
An initial grant of Rs. 100 million is being provided to the Fund for disbursement through an open proposal mechanism from NPOs, NGOs/CBO and public organizations. The Fund will comprise of independent trustees with Women Development Department working as its Secretariat.
The Punjab Civil Secretariat will set up a Flagship Day Care Center.
Day Care Centers will be mandatory in all public sector offices (including universities, colleges, hospitals and other organizations) with 5 or more than 5 female employees.
Amendment in appropriate laws will be enacted to make it mandatory for all commercial/industrial establishments to have a Day Care on their premises.
Daycare shall also be an eligible category for financing out of the Workers’ Welfare Fund.
Guidelines and standards will be developed and communicated by the Women Development Department.
Punjab Skills Development Fund, as per its mandate, shall finance training for developing skilled workforce for the Day Care Centers.
5. Women Entrepreneurs:
The Bank of Punjab announces a “Women Entrepreneurship Financing Scheme” for loans for commercial ventures by women for initiatives including: Day care Centers, bakeries, eateries, catering, furniture, interior designing, boutiques, fitness gyms, event management, vocational institutes, driving schools, jewelry, clothing and accessories, and any other feasible projects.
Rs. two billion has been allocated to this scheme.
Business Development Services will be extended by BoP. A panel of experts will be engaged for initial advice followed by feasibility study & business plan preparation.
Job creation shall be one of the criteria for approval of loan application by the Bank of Punjab.
Green field projects shall also be eligible.
6. Interest Free Loans for Women:
Government of Punjab will allocate an additional Rs. one billion for the year 2012-2013 for disbursement of loans through Akhuwat with a target to support atleast 33% women of its total beneficiaries.
7. Other Measures:
Career Development Centers will be established in all Public Sector Women Universities. Counseling facilities shall be set up in post-graduate colleges.
Amenities for women shall be provided in all public offices: separate washroom and prayer room be designated in existing buildings.
All new buildings should incorporate proper facilities for women. (Washroom and prayer room)
1. School Education Department :
The following meaningful reforms are being undertaken:
60% of the funds out of Punjab Education Sector Reforms Program (PESRP) shall be earmarked for provision of missing facilities for girls schools in the next ADP 2012-2013. All the girls’ schools shall be provided with toilet and boundary walls on top priority basis.
At least 70% jobs will be earmarked for women in primary education.
Government of the Punjab shall continue in its next fiscal year to make allocations for upgradation of girls’ elementary/middle schools to secondary/high school level.
2. Higher Education:
The following new policy elements shall be implemented:
A hostel facility will be provided in at least one District Degree College for Women at the District Headquarter.
All tehsils shall have at least one women degree college.
All Women Colleges (Intermediate, degree and post-graduate) without adequate transport shall be provided buses.
3. Skills Development:
All government skills development programmes shall include a substantial number of women trainees.
1. CHARM Programme:
Substantial allocations shall be made for the welfare of mother and child. Punjab Government shall scale up the Chief Minister’s Health Initiative for Attainment and Realization of MDGs (CHARM programme) all across Punjab. First phase shall include the basic EmONC services to additional 20 districts having poor health indicators. (The Government of the Punjab is implementing this programme in 7 flood affected districts of Southern Punjab under which Health Department is providing round the clock basic Emergency Obstetric and Neo-Natal Care (EmONC) services at selected BHUs and all the RHCs, THQs and DHQs to decrease the Maternal Mortality Ratio).
2. Salary Package for Nurses:
An amount of Rs.1.5 billion has been allocated for increase in the salary package of nurses.
3. Nutrition Program for Mother and Child
Punjab Government will announce a comprehensive Nutrition Program for Mother and Child that shall ensure availability of medicines and supplements to pregnant and lactating women at BHU level.
1. Gender Mainstreaming Standing Committee:
A Gender Mainstreaming Standing Committee shall be established in the Provincial Assembly.
IMPLEMENTATION AND ADMINSTRATION
1. Women Development Department:
A Women Development Department led by a female minister/advisor will be set up with immediate effect. A ‘State of Gender Parity Report’ shall be prepared annually by the Women Development Department.
2. High level Gender Review Board:
A High Level Gender Review Board for implementation of this Women Empowerment Package shall be set up. This will be headed by the Chief Minister and will oversee the implementation of this package over a period of three months.
3. Gender Mainstreaming Committees (Departmental):
Gender Mainstreaming Committees will be formed in all Departments.
The above reforms are revolutionary in that they address historical inequities, uphold the principles of basic human rights and take affirmative action for the advancement of women. Almost every woman in Punjab will reap the positive benefits of this package one way or the other. We hope that with this watershed decision in the form of the “Women Empowerment Package, 2012” is also able to change mindsets of people and positively influence attitudes and norms in our society.