ISLAMABAD - The Women's Parliamentary Caucus has initiated a series of seminars on women's participation in politics.
The first seminar in this series focused on women's representation within political parties. It was jointly supported by UN Women and UNDP. Representatives of all key political parties attended the seminar. Moreover, Abdul Mannan, chairperson of National Assembly parliamentary affairs committee, Jahangir Badar, chairperson of Senate committee on parliamentary affairs, representatives of National Commission on Status of Women (NCSW), ministry of law justice and human rights, civil society organisations and international partners, and government officials were also in attendance.
Joana Merlin Scholtes, senior advisor UN Women, assured the continued support of UN Women to Pakistan for bringing forth women in all spheres of life. Twenty per cent of women are now in parliament worldwide, Scandinavia has the highest number with 42 per cent whereas Asia has 18.5 per cent women representation; however this has been a substantial increase from 1995 when there were only 11.5 per cent women in parliament worldwide. This is an extremely positive measure. Tracy Vienings, deputy country representative UNDP, said that UNDP in Pakistan is continuing to assist the government and the situation is extremely optimistic and women have come a long way.
Shaista Malik, secretary Women Parliamentary Caucus, emphasised that there is need to change the mindset of people including the political parties "so that we are able to bring forward more and more women." She asked all political parties and politicians to join hands beyond political parties for the cause of empowering women.
Abdul Manan assured the Women's Parliamentary Caucus of his full support for legislation on women empowerment. He further stated that the bill on 10 per cent quota of women for tickets on general seats is key and the National Assembly committee on parliamentary affairs will be supporting it.
Senator Jahangir Badar also assured the caucus of its continued support for bringing about legislation for ensuring women's participation in politics.
Khawar Mumtaz, chairperson National Commission on Status of Women, said that women empowerment is a long journey and in Pakistan it has come a long way.
Aamina Qadir Adham, senior gender advisor of UN Women, said that even though there were an unprecedented 448 women who filed papers for contesting elections on general seats yet this constituted only 3.4 per cent of the total candidature.
The participants gave key recommendations for ensuring women's effective participation in political parties which included; increasing the number of women in decision-making platforms, strengthening grassroots women representation in party, giving more tickets to women for contesting elections on winnable seats, women should be brought in mainstream politics and not marginalized. In addition it was reinforced that there is need to make the quota representation of women more democratic and local government as a key pillar of democracy will also ensure more participation of women.