WASHINGTON: The US Senate has passed a $1.7 trillion omnibus spending package for fiscal 2023 and it includes $200 million for promoting gender equality in Pakistan.

The package, passed on Thursday evening, includes $858 billion for defence, $787bn for non-defence domestic programmes and over $15bn for other programmes.

An omnibus bill is a single document that pieces together several measures into one and as the last piece of legislature to pass this year, it will fund the US federal government through September 2023. 

The authorisation of funds for promoting gender equality programmes, however, prohibits spending any of the $200m on abortions. Yet, this is a whopping increase in the last few years.

In December 2020, the US congress cleared $10m for promoting gender equality and $15m for strengthening democracy in Pakistan. The $200m allotted for 2023 is a 20-fold increase from the 2020 allocation for Pakistan.

On the Global Gender Gap Report 2022 of the World Economic Forum, Pakistan ranked 145 out of 146 on the gender equality index.

Afghanistan was 146 and India 135 on the index. Bangladesh and Nepal lead regional performance with over 69 per cent of their gender gaps closed. Bangladesh was 71 and Nepal 96.

Published in Dawn, December 24th, 2022

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