Rescue, why not?

The issue of women empowerment, it seems, does not fall in the government’s priority list at all. Negligence towards children and women welfare activities apart, now the oldest women development centre is on the verge of closure due to acute fund crunch. The Women Development Training Centre (WDTC), established in 1956 with the objective to help upgrade the status of women by providing them with technical skills, is almost defunct because of the meagre budget allocation. The government allocated a mere Rs 250,000 to the centre for this year, which is sufficient only to meet the miscellaneous expenditure. The pathetic condition of the centre can easily be gauged through the fact that the centre has leased out some of its buildings to generate whatever little money they can to finance the maintenance work. It is a disgrace for the country in general and the government in particular that even with so much donor money pouring into the country, it has failed to protect such a vital institution that is striving for women’s advancement. Instead of blaming the centre for “not coming up with innovative ideas,” the Local Development Training Academy should aid the centre to give continuity to its activities.

Although it is true that WDTC needs to compete with the ever-increasing activities of NGOs and INGOs, they cannot implement any “new ideas” in the absence of enough resources. The authorities concerned should understand that this centre’s programmes are as crucial as the NGO-run activities that are targeted to child welfare and women empowerment. Skill development has been and will remain a major area for gender equality for a developing country like Nepal where majority of the women are illiterate and poor. This fact was recognised soon after the 1990 people’s movement when the Local Development Training Academy Act, 1993, mandated the centre to carry out the training, research and consultant services on gender sensitisation for local development. The government should look around for resources needed to help the centre come out of this problem. If the government can spend huge amounts of money in unproductive sectors and raise the security expenditure to 19 billion rupees, there is no reason why it cannot rescue the centre.