The KP government has just approved plans of building a Rs42 million youth centre for women in Peshawar. The new facility in Hayatabad will include a gym, yoga classes, a modern theatre, a rooftop café, a children's play area and different game rooms.
Photos of the approval meeting were tweeted out yesterday by the tourism minister Mohammad Atif Khan who formally approved the budget in the presence of members of the KP Youth Development Commission, which is the think-tank responsible for planning the facility.
A youth centre, even a segregated one, can be a step towards more pronounced participation by women in Peshawar's public life. However, many noticed that women were ostensibly missing from the meeting, calling them to question if any were even consulted during the planning phase?
However, according to Asfandyar Khattak, Director Youth Affairs KP, the planning of the youth centre was undertaken by an all-women committee consisting of five female professionals. He explained that no women are seen in the photo because the female members were on the visit of the place finalised for the centre, and joined the meeting later. He added that the centre will be operational within three months and it remain open from 8am to 10pm.
Mr Khattak's clarification is a relief, for the apparent exclusion of women raises concerns about whether the centre's plans were informed by what men think women need rather than what women are given the space to demand?
An all-male meeting minimises the value of women's insight and representation and underscores a troubling trend — like often in the home, it's up to men to decide what privileges a woman can enjoy. For a youth centre to truly serve women, it needs to reflect their true needs.