The transgender community in Pakistan faces numerous challenges that often lead to their marginalization and social exclusion. To address these issues, the Punjab Social Protection Authority (PSPA) launched the Masawaat Program in line with the Transgender Person’s Welfare Policy. This program aims to mainstream transgender persons through livelihood support, healthcare, education, and more.
Overview of Transgender Issues in Pakistan
The 2017 census counted 10,418 transgender persons in Pakistan. However, transgender organizations estimate the population to be around 500,000.
Transgender persons face severe discrimination in Pakistani society. A survey by the Gender Interactive Alliance found that only 5% of transgender persons in Lahore had jobs. Additionally, 68% faced harassment in public places, while 45% were expelled from their homes.
This marginalization means transgender persons have limited education and employment opportunities. As a result, many are forced into professions like dancing and begging to survive.
36% of transgender persons in Pakistan are infected with HIV compared to less than 1% of the general population. Stigma and discrimination often prevent this community from accessing proper healthcare.
Key Objectives of the Masawaat Program
The Masawaat Program aims to uplift the transgender community in Punjab through a holistic approach targeting their major needs. The key goals are:
- Mainstreaming: Facilitating transgender inclusion in education, healthcare, housing and public services.
- Social Protection: Providing income support to ensure a minimum standard of living.
- Economic Empowerment: Enhancing access to income generation opportunities.
- Human Capital Development: Promoting skill development and asset accumulation.
- Healthcare Access: Improving overall health and protection from illness.
Major Components of the Program
The Masawaat Program comprises several initiatives to address the multidimensional needs of transgender persons:
1. Unconditional Cash Transfers
Monthly cash stipends are provided to vulnerable transgender persons for basic consumption needs:
- Rs. 3,000 for elderly transgender persons aged 60 years and above
- Rs. 2,000 for disabled transgender persons
This assistance can be collected from any HBL Konnect retail agent in Punjab.
2. Healthcare Support
- Free medical camps are organized by PSPA and health departments providing screening, treatment and medicines.
- Private healthcare partners are engaged to facilitate quality and affordable access.
3. Economic Empowerment
- Business loans up to Rs. 100,000 are provided interest-free in collaboration with the Punjab Small Industries Corporation.
- Vocational training is arranged to build entrepreneurial skills.
- Job placements are facilitated through private sector partnerships.
4. Housing Assistance
PSPA is coordinating with NGOs and the transgender community to construct new housing complexes providing safe accommodation.
5. Legal Assistance
Free legal aid services are enabled to assist transgender persons in obtaining ID cards, inheritance rights and addressing harassment issues.
Eligibility Criteria for Cash Assistance
The unconditional cash transfers are available to transgender persons meeting the following criteria:
- Having a valid Computerized National Identity Card (CNIC) with the transgender designation.
- Age 60 years or above for the elderly stipend.
- Certified as disabled by a government hospital or board for the disability stipend.
- Having domicile and residency status of Punjab province.
Get Transgender Persons Welfare Policy Here.
Application Process for Cash Assistance
Eligible transgender individuals can apply for cash assistance from the Masawaat Program by following these steps:
Step 1: Obtain application form from nearby DSP office
Step 2: Attach photocopy of CNIC and other required documents
Step 3: Submit application at Social Welfare Complex Lahore or respective DSP office
Step 4: Verification process is completed within 15 days
Step 5: Collect cash card from DSP office after approval
Step 6: Activate cash card at agent location to receive monthly stipend
Key Partnerships Supporting Program Implementation
To effectively roll out the multifaceted Masawaat Program, PSPA has collaborated with various government and private sector partners:
- Punjab Social Welfare Department assists with beneficiary identification, verification and grievance redressal.
- Punjab Health Department provides healthcare resources and organizes medical camps.
- Punjab Small Industries Corporation offers entrepreneurial loans on easy terms.
- Akhuwat Foundation is a lead microfinance partner providing interest-free loans.
- TransAction Alliance, a transgender welfare organization, helps connect beneficiaries for legal aid, skill training, housing and more.
Statistical Overview of Masawaat Program Performance
Wow! Can you believe all the amazing things the Masawaat Program has accomplished as of August 2023? Let me break it down for you in a fun and exciting way:
- We have enrolled a whopping 7,836 transgender persons for cash assistance across Punjab! That’s a lot of people getting the support they deserve.
- And get this, we have disbursed a staggering Rs. 235 million in cumulative cash transfers. That’s a whole lot of money making a difference in people’s lives.
- But wait, there’s more! We’ve also organized 21 medical camps, serving over 3,500 patients. That’s a lot of healthcare being provided to those who need it most.
- In addition, we have disbursed 156 business loans with a total value of Rs. 12 million. Talk about empowering transgender individuals to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams.
- We’re not done yet! We’ve also helped 74 transgender persons find steady jobs. That’s 74 lives transformed through meaningful employment.
- And let’s not forget about the 612 legal cases we’ve resolved. Through our efforts, transgender individuals have been able to obtain ID cards and inheritance rights. That’s justice served!
- Last but not least, we’ve constructed 4 housing blocks in Lahore and Multan, providing homes for 78 households. Talk about building communities and creating a sense of belonging.
So there you have it, the incredible achievements of the Masawaat Program. We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished and excited to continue making a positive impact in the lives of transgender persons.
Challenges Faced During Program Implementation
Rolling out this pioneering social protection initiative for marginalized transgender communities has also posed some challenges:
- Conservative social attitudes making outreach difficult in some areas
- Reluctance among some to get officially registered as transgender
- Limited organizational capacity of transgender groups to assist implementation
- Resource constraints in expanding program to full scale
- Difficulty verifying identities and eligibility of applicants without existing records
- Information barriers regarding availability of program benefits
Plans for Expanding Coverage and Impact
Going forward, PSPA aims to extend the Masawaat Program through:
- Collaboration with transgender welfare organizations for beneficiary outreach and service delivery
- Launching a media campaign to raise awareness about available benefits
- Supporting CNIC registration drives to expand eligibility
- Using technology for biometric verification and payments to enhance integrity
- Increasing program budget to extend coverage and assistance
- Expanding private sector partnerships for additional employment and training opportunities
The Masawaat Program implemented by PSPA is a pioneering and progressive social protection initiative focused on mainstreaming and uplifting the marginalized transgender community in Punjab, Pakistan. By providing cash transfers, healthcare, economic empowerment and other assistance, this program aims to promote inclusion, improve human capability and ensure basic rights.
Effective collaboration with partners from government, non-profits and private sector has been key in rolling out the program. Despite some challenges faced, the program has already demonstrated significant positive impact.
Further scaling up of the initiative and engaging transgender community organizations can help extend its reach and transform more lives. The Masawaat Program provides a model that can potentially be replicated across other provinces as well to advance the welfare of transgender persons in Pakistan.
FAQs about the Masawaat Program
Q1. Who is eligible for cash assistance under the Masawaat Program?
Cash transfers of Rs. 3,000 per month are provided to transgender persons aged 60 years and above. Disabled transgender persons certified by authorized medical boards receive Rs. 2,000 monthly. Only those with CNICs and Punjab domicile/residency are eligible.
Q2. How can one apply for monthly cash stipends?
Eligible transgender individuals can obtain application forms from nearby DSP offices, attach required documents and submit to the DSP or Social Welfare Complex Lahore.
Q3. What documents need to be submitted with the application?
Applicants must provide a copy of their valid CNIC showing transgender status. Disabled persons need to attach disability certificate from government hospital/board. Proof of age and Punjab domicile may also be required.
Q4. How are beneficiaries of the cash transfers identified?
PSPA and its partners use various means to identify and verify eligible transgender persons over 60 years or disabled. This includes coordination with transgender organizations and communities.
Q5. How are the unconditional cash transfers provided?
After approval, beneficiaries are issued customized cash cards which can be activated at HBL Konnect retail agents to receive the monthly stipend amount.
Q6. What healthcare facilities are available under the program?
PSPA organizes free medical camps delivering screening, treatment and medicines for transgender persons. It also collaborates with public hospitals and private providers to enable quality affordable healthcare.
Q7. How can one get an interest-free business loan under this program?
Eligible transgender persons can apply for small business loans up to Rs. 100,000 through the Punjab Small Industries Corporation offices after completing required formalities.
Q8. What skill training options are offered under this program?
PSPA is partnering with technical training institutes and transgender welfare organizations to provide customized vocational skills training programs focused on entrepreneurship and employment.
Q9. How are legal issues of transgender persons addressed?
Free legal assistance is facilitated through transgender NGOs and lawyer networks related to obtaining ID cards, resolving inheritance matters, addressing harassment complaints etc.
Q10. Is this program implemented all across Punjab?
Currently, the program coverage extends to major cities of Punjab but will be expanded to other areas progressively based on available resources and local partnerships.