Panel discussion: ‘Women should be part of policy, decision-making’

Speakers say women should be elected on general seats instead of reserved ones

Our Correspondent April 22, 2016
Speakers say women should be elected on general seats instead of reserved ones. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: Speakers have called for women’s participation and representation in the policy and decision-making process.

“Women should be elected on general seats instead of reserved seats and pro-women legislation needs to be enhanced and implemented accordingly,” they said while speaking at a panel discussion titled “women’s leadership, voice and political participation”, held at the Pakistan Institute of Parliamentary Services (PIPS) here on Thursday.

The discussion focused on women’s empowerment issues and challenges (for women’s leadership) and explored opportunities for reform, advocacy and engagement.

Country representative Jamshed Kazi, who co-chaired the session with Australian High Commissioner Margaret Adamson, said that political participation in the country showed some encouraging and not-so-encouraging trends. He quoted that Pakistan currently has 20.6 per cent female representation in the National Assembly, a higher proportion than many developed countries including US, Greece, Ireland and Japan.

In terms of women representation among SAARC countries, Pakistan comes at a third position after Nepal (29.5 per cent) with three female speakers or deputy speakers in provincial assemblies of Balochistan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

On the other hand, he said, women’s representation in the judiciary and administration drop dramatically.

The panelists including National Assembly Women’s Caucus Secretary MNA Shaista Pervez Malik, women’s rights activist and MNA Bushra Gohar, Young Parliamentarians Forum MNA Shaza Fatima and PIPS Executive Director Rashid Mafzool Zaka said that there was a need to enhance the role of the National Commission on the Status of Women beyond oversight and towards implementation.

Adamson said that “Australia and Pakistan share the same goals when it comes to women’s empowerment”.

“Pakistan has outlined its vision for women’s empowerment in the strategic Vision 2025 and the recent women’s protection bill has been a manifestation of this national commitment. Our two governments recognise that gender equality is not only a basic human right, but also fundamental for a peaceful, prosperous, inclusive and sustained world,” she said.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 22nd,  2016.

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