The government has decided to expand the social safety net of the Ehsaas Kafalat programme to encompass the transgender community. This progress towards empowering marginalised communities through the welfare programme that is structured to be all-inclusive. Slowly but surely, there is bound to be some improvement in the quality of life of an average transgender.
According to details released, only those who have valid CNICs will be eligible for the welfare benefits that are a part of the Ehsaas programme–including a monthly stipend and regular savings. While it may seem like a small gesture, the symbolic value of this decision is great. Not only does it encourage members of the community to get themselves registered but it reiterates the fact that they, just like any other Pakistani, are equal citizens of the country. By virtue of that, they have access to all the same rights and benefits. For the state to recognise and advocate for the transgender community is bound to set a precedent in society and improve their social position.
On another note, welfare benefits should always be geared towards the most vulnerable members of the society. Daily, transgender persons encounter problems with acceptance, access to healthcare, education, employment, discrimination, and are subjected to public ridicule. Often, their needs are completely side-lined and are left to fend for themselves in a society that has made it almost impossible for them to coexist as equals. The hope is that through the Ehsaas programme, they will be able to access more opportunities for self-growth and improvement. This could be in the form of skills development, gaining education, receiving better healthcare facilities, enhancing awareness of building a stronger sense of community.
It is a relief to see the government take their side and attempt to mobilise the entire community. If similar strides are made in the future as well, then there is hope that Pakistan could be a place where the transgender community can live freely.