Parliamentarians urged to tackle gender bias

Published: June 11, 2010
Aurat Foundation unveils ‘Women’s Legislative Agenda’

Aurat Foundation unveils ‘Women’s Legislative Agenda’

LAHORE: The Aurat Foundation (AF) shared a draft of the ‘Women’s Legislative Agenda’ with female legislators of the Punjab Assembly on Thursday and invited discussions on it.

The parliamentarians are expected to table the draft for legislation during the next session of the Punjab Assembly. The draft has been prepared by AF consultant Justice (r) Nasira Iqbal.

The draft aims to work out a strategy to identify key priorities for future action by women legislators.

The final draft will be prepared after receiving input from female legislators.

Parliamentarians from both the ruling and opposition benches attended the ceremony.

Punjab Assembly Speaker Rana Iqbal was also present on the occasion.

The AF draft stated that female parliamentarians needed to review the Muslim Family Laws Ordinance (MFLO), Local Government Act 2010 and Labour Legislation.

The AF stressed that a parliamentary debate needed to be initiated on the Domestic Violence Bill, Acid Control and Injurious Substances Crime Prevention Act, Home-based Worker Bill, Women’s Protection Bill 2009, Political Party Act and the Punjab Child Right Bill 2010.

Women parliamentarians are expected to discuss the following issues in the Punjab Assembly:

1.Strengthening the Women’s Party caucus

2.Ensuring the implementation of the 10% job quota for women in all walks of life.

3.Representation of all sections of society in the Parliament and the allocation of seats reserved for women i.e. technocrats, political workers, minorities, peasants/labourers.

4.Bringing women in the mainstream through socio-economic development in accordance with the international conventions and treaties ratified by Pakistan. (Particularly the CEDAW Conventions, Human Rights Convention, Millennium Development Goals and Child Rights Convention)

5.Direct focus on policy reform, institutional reform, and budgetary reform with a pro-women agenda. Affirmative action, policies and laws for women to become equal partners with men. Gender review of manifestos of all political parties to ensure equal participation of women.

6.Declaring void all elections in which women were excluded from polls by political parties.

7.Women parliamentarians should struggle to nominate women as members of the federal and provincial Election Commissions.

8.Allocation of funds by political parties for women workers.

9.Ending discrimination in the allocation of development funds for both general and reserved seats.

10.Implementation of Sexual Harassment Act. Establishment of help lines in all departments for survivors. Implementation of the code of conduct regarding the SHA.

11.Implementation of existing laws protecting women’s rights, especially the law of inheritance.

12.Utilisation of EOBI funds for the welfare of workers

13.Redefining ‘worker’ to recognise the informal sector in the Industrial Relation Act.

14.Ensuring the provision of social security, EOBI and workers’ welfare funds to the informal sector.

15.Issuance of universal card/smart card for workers of the informal sector to ensure the provision of public sector health services.

16.Revising/reforming Industrial Policy of 2003 to allow labour inspection

17. Affirmative action to ensure minimum wage of Rs7,000

18.Reforming the public sector recruitment process and promoting safe working conditions.

19.Legislation and code of conduct specifying the responsibility of security sector personnel.

20.Passing legislation for the increased participation of female parliamentarians on security-related committees.

21.Ratification of ILO C-177

22.Steps should be taken to back up the technical support system for parliamentarians.

23.Effective family planning strategies to overcome the increasing disparity between resources and population.

24.Establishing vocational training centres at every informal school and literacy centre.

25.Government funded projects and programmes should bridge the gender divide. Create space for women within the existing system and improve the performance of government departments. Ensure close liaison between state and private departments working for the empowerment of women.

26.Training programs for women party workers at the grassroots level.

27.Orientation programmes on assembly proceedings.

28.Refresher courses for women parliamentarians.

29.Publishing a newsletter for parliamentarians.

Published in the Express Tribune, June 11th, 2010.

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