Women parliamentarians expressed concern over increasing media criticism of their dress sense and lifestyle, saying it undermined their efforts and achievements and dampened their spirits.
They were speaking at an interactive session on Impact of Women Emancipation in Politics, organised by South Asian Women in Media (SAWM) on Tuesday at South Asian Free Media Association (Safma).
“The media, in highlighting the prices of our dresses, handbags and jewellery, gives off the wrong impression, affects our image and discourages us,” they said.
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) MNA Nafisa Khattak said that the media must stop poking fun at respected women parliamentarians through animated cartoons or comedy shows.
Khattak said that she was vicimised by the media when she joined politics.
“On almost all TV channels I was introduced as PTI Chief Minister Pervez Khattak’s sister-in-law. I was never asked about why I joined politics, my qualifications or my objectives,” she said.
Khattak said that she belonged to a conservative family and faced resistance for joining politics and that receiving such treatment had disappointed her.
“We want to increase female political participation but women in this country wouldn’t dare make the effort if they are going to be treated this way,” she said.
Responding to this, Senator Rubina Khalid of the Pakistan People’s Party said that if a female were to enter into politics on merit, she should be encouraged and appreciated.
“History tells us that female politicians are more competent than their male counterparts. Former National Assembly speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza and former prime minister Benazir Bhutto are the best examples of this,” she said.
Pakistan Muslim League---Nawaz (PML-N) member Maiza Hameed said that she was just 25 when she became an MPA.
“I was very new to this field and did not know much about it but later when I started working for women’s empowerment I developed courage,” she said.
Hameed said that by highlighting what female politicians were wearing or eating only served to dishearten them further.
Khalid criticised PML-N’s male members of ignoring their female politicians after using them to win seats.
Hameed said Kulsoom and Maryam Nawaz were working hard to strengthen the PML-N women’s wing.
She said that efforts would be made to consider all pending pro-women bills through the Women’s Parliamentary Caucus (WPC).
Published in The Express Tribune, July 10th, 2013.