Women parliamentarians representing countries from South Asia met for the first time on Sunday since their incorporation as a committee in the association of the Saarc Speakers and Parliamentarians last year.
In a meeting held as part of the regional conference, women parliamentarians of the region vowed to play a pivotal role in empowering women besides strengthening democracy and social justice in the member countries.
Recognising the need for women to play a more central role in their respective countries’ policy making process, Saarc women parliamentarians adopted and agreed to build a network of South Asian women parliamentarians so as to use it for the exchange of experiences and best practices for women empowerment.
Chair of the sixth conference and Speaker of Pakistan’s National Assembly Dr Fehmida Mirza, later in her welcome speech, informed the participants that the Speakers’ Council of the Association had agreed to the proposal forwarded by the women parliamentarians.
‘Women’s Committee of the Association of Saarc Speakers and Parliamentarians’ was the name proposed for the network to the Speakers’ Council of the association with the request to institutionalise it. They further suggested that the host country serve as the chair of the committee which would meet twice a year and make its own rules.
Women parliamentarians also agreed upon raising a collective voice for increasing women’s representation in all democratic and political forums, especially their respective national parliaments, provincial and local councils.
“We agree to build a common vision for the empowerment of women of South Asia and for the promotion of gender equality in social, political and economic fields,” said a statement released after the meeting at the National Assembly Secretariat. It added that they would further work for the mainstreaming of women into the body politic of the parliamentary system.
Recognising widespread discrimination leading to female disadvantage, the meeting of the women parliamentarians vowed to combat all forms of discrimination and violence against women.
“Our parliamentary agenda would focus on ensuring reproductive health and rights, promoting access to education, guaranteeing property and inheritance rights besides eliminating gender inequalities in employment especially amongst the Home Based Women Workers,” added the statement.
In her address, National Assembly Speaker Mirza reminded participants of her idea of a Saarc Parliament that she floated at the previous conference in New Delhi. “The proposed forum can enable our respective parliamentarians to build consensus through continued dialogue on the multiple challenges affecting us,” she said.
She also called for setting up a joint committee of Saarc parliamentarians to regularly monitor the pace of implementation of the MDGs (Millenium Development Goals) and suggest workable collaborative actions.
Speaker of the National Assembly said that parliaments, which were voices of the people, were the most important forum to exchange views and discuss regional issues.
She said that the Saarc, which represented 20% population of the world, had great potential to further enhance and promote relations among the member states.
(WITH ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM APP)
Published in The Express Tribune, November 5th, 2012.
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We agree to build a common vision for the empowerment of women of South Asia and for the promotion of gender equality in social, political and economic fields,” ---Forget about it . Today in India , Women have been bared from entering Haji Ali Darghas and some mullahs supporting it citing so called Saharia law .When your religion forbids very very small small things like this , your speaking of women empowerment is hillarious .It may be applicable to all other religions .