Poverty Alleviation Through Women's Empowerment - Dream to Reality

Women Empowerment in Pakistan through Benazir Income support program

Poverty Alleviation and Women Empowerment Through Benazir Income Support Programme

  • Benazir Income Support Programme is the Marshall Plan and the flagship Programme of the Government for Women Empowerment and Poverty Alleviation.
  • Government laid the foundation of a Welfare State, almost four and half years ago, by establishing BISP.
  • BISP is an independent authority with the President of Pakistan being the Chief Patron and Prime Minister of Pakistan the Executive Patron of the Programme. BISP is managed by a high powered Board headed by its Chairperson.
  • Benazir Income Support Programme Bill was unanimously passed by the National Assembly and the Senate.
  • Based on its performance, transparency and efficient technology-based systems, BISP has earned global recognition and donor support and is cited as an example of international best practices across the world.
  • More than 2.5 million women obtained their national identity cards as it was prerequisite for the eligibility as beneficiary.

Poverty Census (first ever in the country)

  • Conduct of countrywide Poverty Survey/Census for the first time not only in Pakistan but also in South Asia.
  • Data of almost 180 million (18 crore) people and 27 million households of Pakistan collected for the first time.
  • Use of GPS devices to map the data of the entire country for informed decision making (to cope with natural disasters and other emergencies).
  • Poverty census completed in record time of one year across all Pakistan including Azad Jammu & Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan and FATA.

Cash Transfers (largest ever in the country)

  • More than 7 million beneficiary families consisting of more than four crore (40 million) individuals have been identified through Poverty Scorecard Survey for disbursing monthly financial assistance. 
  • So far, more than 5 million deserving families are receiving cash grant.
  • Billions of rupees have been disbursed till date amongst poorest of the poor.

Waseela-e-Haq (first ever in the country)

  • Objective of this initiative is to make people independent financially rather than perpetually depending on government support.
  • Provides interest free loans up to Rs.300,000 to help the recipients to set up small businesses.
  • Female beneficiary is the sole owner/proprietor of the business.
  • Counseling, monitoring and training for starting the business is provided through Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF).

Waseela-e-Rozgar (largest ever in the country)

  • Aims at providing the needy the net ‘to catch the fish? And lead a life of self-reliance.
  • Launched for provision of demand driven technical and vocational training to the deserving youth, who do not have any skill, through public/private training institutes.
  • The target is to train 150,000 students every year.

Giving identity to the Marginalized Women

  • Millions of poor women obtained Identity Cards in four years as it was prerequisite to the eligibility of beneficiary. It enhanced women self esteem after being recognized as the citizen of Pakistan.

Technology based Payments Mechanisms (first ever in the country)

  • BISP provides technology based payment facilities through.
    • Benazir Smart Card
    • Mobile Phone Banking and
    • Benazir Debit Card
  • These state of the art facilities are being provided to the poorest segments of society for the first time in the history of Pakistan.
  • Millions of new accounts have been opened, and people brought in the financial sector of Pakistan who did not have any access to the banking sector in their lives.
  • A corporate style, fast paced work ethic has been adopted for efficient service delivery.

Transparency, the Hallmark of BISP

  • Disbursed Hundreds of Billions of Rupees among the poorest of the poor with complete transparency.
  • Introduced branchless banking for the poorest of the poor for the first time in Pakistan.

Transparency, the Hallmark of BISP
Transparency, objectivity and efficiency in service delivery are a hallmark of BISP operations and both international financial institutions and donor agencies have shown full trust and confidence in it. An evidence of international recognition of BISP is the technical and financial support received from international development partners including the World Bank, ADB, DFID, USAID and governments of Iran, China and Turkey. BISP has used technical and financial support in the most effective manner and has ensured the implementation of an across-the-board transparent regime. Transparency and objectivity of BISP operations is considered unparalleled by multilateral financial institutions and international donors for the following reasons:

  • BISP account books are open for all to review; all the relevant operational as well as financial data is available on the BISP’s website for public viewing.
  • Implementation reports pertaining to the utilization of funds, disbursements etc. are shared with the donors on regular basis.
  • Objectivity and accuracy of beneficiary identification exercise (Poverty Survey) has been stamped by independent third party validation.
  • Effectiveness and transparency of BISP payment mechanisms has been established by independent verifications and third party validations done by international agencies like USAID.

Countries like Mongolia, Cambodia, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Ghana, Palestine, Mexico and even India have shown willingness to learn from BISP’s experience and replicate the BISP model in their countries.

International Recognition

  • BISP has attracted worldwide support and appreciation for its.
    • Trust and believability
    • Has been declared a model program
    • Has received direct technical and financial support from international donors and financial institutions
    • Has been approached by a number of countries for replicating BISP model

Development Partners/Donor Support
BISP received tremendous technical and financial support by all major donors from worldwide, which shows the deep understanding and believability in the systems & design and mutual agreement to continue in the future as well.
World Bank
Asian Development Bank (ADB)
UK Department for International Development (DFID)
USAID (United States of America)
IMF support to continue BISP intervention in future governments

Grievance Redressal System

  • Aimed at quick resolution of peoples? Grievances and complaints.
  • Introduction of technology based Grievance Redressal System for facilitation of the poor.
  • State of the art system launched to address the issues/problems/complaints of the poor people on international standards through computerized systems

BISP Payment Grievance Redressal System
BISP has designed a comprehensive payment redressal system which is in development and test phase and will be available online for our beneficiaries. The system will enable them to resolve the issues on real time and just in time (JIT) basis. The systems will enable BISP and its partner banks to locally manage payment complaints.

Emergency Relief Package

  • Objective of this initiative is to provide immediate and speedy relief to the people affected by natural disasters like floods, earthquakes and victims of bomb blasts and displacements through acts of violence etc.
  • IDPs of FATA/Bajur/Malakund, Flood affectees of 2009-10 and 2010-11 and Earthquake affectees of Balochistan have been supported by BISP through its Emergency Relief Package.

Emergency Relief Package
BISP’s mission is to support the citizens of Pakistan and to be the first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards in case of any emergency. BISP’s major Relief Packages are for:

Bomb Blast Victim
Pakistan has suffered more than any other country in the world in global war against terror. Bomb blasts and incidents of terrorism have increased in the country especially in Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa and have claimed thousands of precious lives. Thousands have either been killed, disabled or have sustained injuries. Keeping in view the situation, the government has decided to compensate the civilian affectees of terrorism from BISP, being main social safety net programme. The affected families are offered a monthly cash grant of Rs.1000/ month.

Indian Held Kashmir Refugees (IHK)
In pursuance of BISP’s proposal to extend cash grant of Rs.1000 to each family of IHK refugees and subsequent approval of Prime Minister of Pakistan to this effect the program’s inception was initiated.
BISP acquired the complete details of refugee families from Relief & Rehabilitation Department AJ&K, since such families are already registered with the R&R Department. Based on this data, BISP initiated complete survey of refugee families through its regional offices in AJ&K. This survey was done by visiting the refugee camps and by visiting each household one by one.
In total 5250 IHK refugee families are living in 33 camps across 5 districts of AJ&K namely Muzaffarabad, Bagh, Kotli, Mirpur and Poonch. The female head of the family is the beneficiary of this initiative. Each IHK Refugee family will be paid Rs. 1000/month through various banks operating in AJ&K.

IDP Swat/Malakand
During the military operation which was launched against the miscreants in Bajaur, Khyber and Mohmand agencies, Malakand Division and South Waziristan, a large number of families were displaced from the area. These families shifted to the nearby districts of Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa. Though a majority of these temporarily displaced families have returned back to their areas, a need was felt to compensate them in the form of cash assistance for a limited period of time. BISP on the instruction of the government of Pakistan has extended its monthly cash assistance to these internally displaced families as well for a period of one year only.

IDP Bajaur/Fata
A military operation was launched by the Military against the miscreants in Bajaur and the adjoining agencies of Khyber and Mohmand in December, 2008. The operation has displaced a large number of families in the area. These families shifted to the nearby districts of Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa. BISP on the instruction of the government of Pakistan extended its monthly cash transfers to the IDP families as well.

Earthquake Victims
Government of Pakistan decided to extend relief under the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) to the earthquake affected districts, namely, Pashin, Ziarat and Loralai of Balochistan. This relief was provided in the form of Emergency Relief Package (ERP) i.e.Rs.1000/- per family per month with retrospective effect from October,2008.The Provincial set-up of BISP oversaw and coordinated implementation of the ERP in Balochistan

Flood Affectees
The beneficiaries of BISP’s monthly assistance, who were affected by the devastation caused by the wide spread flood occurred in 2010 across the country were covered under this programme. Each affected family was paid one installment of Rs. 4000.
Also the beneficiaries of BISP’s monthly assistance, who were affected by the devastation caused by the wide spread flood occurred in 2011 were covered under this programme. Each affected family was paid advance monthly cash assistance of four months amounting to Rs.4000/family.