As the number of IDPs closes in on the million mark, many unaddressed short and long-term problems remain, especially in the case of women in the camps set up by the government. The families, making their way to IDP camps from North Waziristan left their homes and most of their worldly possessions, but the women were unable to leave behind the restrictions imposed upon them by religion and culture. Out of over 980,000 people, almost 300,000 are women and over 400,000 children, making up for around two thirds of the displaced persons. Apart from issues of privacy, women are also facing additional problems in the camps, because aid distribution requires the family’s registration only by the head of the family. NADRA’s data is in many cases, outdated, and the death or departure of the head of the family makes things more complicated. With the women unable to register themselves as heads, many families are left with nothing but what is offered to them by other IDPs.

A significant number of women in the camps do not even possess IDs, which makes it near impossible for them to get any rations. Elders of the Pashtun tribes are not making things any easier by being blind to the needs of the people and asking women to adhere to strict cultural norms instead of getting food for themselves and their families. Women that have no male family members to help them, or those that are second or third wives, are seemingly supposed to just give up on themselves and their families, until starvation is inevitable. Over two weeks have passed since the Provincial Commission on the Status of Women’s (PCSW) declaration of setting up a women-only distribution center, but this has not been done so far. The supply of food to the camps has been steady, and a shortage has not been reported so far. However, the extra food is useless if the mass majority of the IDPs are going hungry at night.

The status of women in tribal areas, and the restrictions imposed upon them by tribal leaders, are all too common in the rest of the country as well. The government should have seen the massive loopholes in their IDP policy from the beginning of the operation on the 15th of June. The fact that they missed it should not come as a surprise however, given the state’s overall lethargy when confronted with a new challenge. Now that the government knows, it should work to rectify this issue as soon as possible. Women make up at least half of the total number of IDPs. Restrictions on their movement is an enormous hindrance to the relief process.