Shazia stresses for more efforts to ensure transgenders’ rights and financial empowerment

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety and Chairperson of Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), Shazia Marri Wednesday called for initiating more efforts to address enormous challenges being confronted by the transgender community, ensuring their rights and financial empowerment.
She expressed these views while speaking at a seminar titled: “Financial Inclusion among Transgender Community in Pakistan”, organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SPDI).

The minister said that BISP has exempted the condition of minimum Proxy Means Test (PMT) score for the transgender community in view of the socio-economic hardships and exclusion being faced by them.

BISP has introduced Hybrid Social Protection Scheme for transgenders to educate and help them in better utilizing their financial resources. She reiterated the need for social awareness and acceptance for the community to encourage them to register with NADRA which will also facilitate them in accessing BISP assistance.

Executive Director, SDPI, Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri said that transgenders are the marginalized among the marginalized communities. He called for bringing them into the mainstream to alleviate their economic hardships.

He stressed the need for creating avenues for transparent targeted subsidies for their financial inclusion and empowerment. He also hailed the increase in BISP stipend for transgender persons. Unless transgenders are not financially strengthened, their economic potential cannot be tapped to catalyze their social inclusion, he added.

Reem Sharif, Transgender Rights Expert at the Ministry of Human Rights and Advisor at Tahafuz, Punjab Police, said so far 3,100 out of 5,700 transgenders have been registered with NADRA while the rest are avoiding it due to the fear of social stigma. She said that predominantly transgenders do not earn from legal sources which is a big hindrance in their way of having access to financial services. She reiterated that the transgenders demand equal respect and dignity, the right of education without discrimination, protection from harassment and sexual exploitation.

Bindiya Rana, a transgender activist and President of Gender Interactive Alliance (GIA), said that the Government of Pakistan has facilitated the transgender community in getting CNICs, but the international community is not properly aware of it, which is creating additional hurdles.

She pointed out that due to lack of awareness of Pakistan’s laws on transgenders, they are often barred from international traveling and even for Hajj and Umrah. Highlighting the issues confronting the transgender community, she said that there is no designated ward in hospitals or a dedicated place in hospitals for them.

Transgenders are still facing problems in accessing banking services, she added. She suggested including transgenders in Census survey teams so that they might identify transgender households. She stressed on creating awareness to fight social stigma and increasing acceptance and assimilation of transgender community.

Dr Shafqat Munir, Deputy Executive Director (Policy), SDPI said that transgender community is facing the challenge of identity and lack of social acceptance based on their identity. He said that being born with a particular gender is beyond anyone’s choice whereas accepting and respecting someone irrespective of gender is one’s own choice.

He called for ensuring access to education and financial inclusion to mainstream the transgenders in society. Shahana Abbas Shani, Transgender Rights Activist, said that it should be ensured that the transgender community has got its CNICs with their identification.

Similarly, it should also be ensured that they are being facilitated in receiving educational and financial services, she maintained. She stressed the need for a tailored policy in consultation with the transgender community and customizing it based on the realities and customs of the country. Farwa Qureshi, Transgender Rights Activist, said that dissent and rejection from the family force transgenders to move out of their houses at a very young age. She further said that social rejection and lack of access to education and employment force transgenders to get involved in illegal occupations that must be addressed.(APP)