ISLAMABAD - Maryam Nawaz, the Prime Minister's daughter, has said the Women Parliamentary Caucus (WPC) is playing an important role in championing the cause of women’s empowerment.

Addressing the three-day international conference organised by the WPC here Monday, Maryam said women parliamentarians could prove as an agent of change in societies.

They were the leaders, who could redefine democracy and ensure social justice, she added.

Maryam urged the women parliamentarians to become a harbinger of good news for their female compatriots by encouraging them.

"The person behind a successful woman is not necessarily a man, but could be a tribe of women," she said, adding that healthy dialogue and unity would make women stronger.

She felicitated National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq and the Caucus for organising the conference with an objective to highlight fundamental issues and responsibilities.

Maryam thanked WPC Secretary Shaista Pervaiz Malik for paying tribute to her mother Begum Kalsoom Nawaz and said she indeed was a wonderful mother and it was her legacy that she herself was trying to carry forward.

She mentioned that women in many parts of the world faced problems like honour killings, emotional torture and violence.

She said even in developed parts of world, women were working harder but being paid less as compared to men. "Every woman sitting here is a living icon of struggle, resilience and courage and the problems could be overcome by the upstanding women like you," she said.

Maryam Nawaz said immense problems were faced by women as they struggled for their basic rights, health, economic opportunities and social freedom.

"We must recognize the gap and strengthen the state in providing adequate protection to the disadvantaged communities for equitable roles alongside men and against discrimination," she said.

Maryam said, "We must not allow a weakened status for women in societies."

She said it was fortunate to belong to a religion that encouraged family values, adding that with those values, the goals of justice and freedom of thought could be achieved. 

"We, as nation, aspire to be freed from the tyranny of dictatorship, free of poverty and fear," she added.

Maryam said Pakistan was today home to remarkable individuals, who were full of courage and dedication.

She mentioned the contributions of the youngest winner of Nobel Prize Malala Yousufzai, Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy as first Pakistani to win Academy Awards and first woman pilot Maryam Mukhtar.

She said a strong tradition of female leadership existed back to the era of Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) with his wife Hazrat Khadija (RA) as a businesswoman, and later Fatima Jinnah, who worked alongside Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah for Pakistan.

National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq, former NA Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza, women parliamentarians and international delegates from 16 countries, members of civil society and academia attended the event.

Women lawmakers from Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Jordan, Australia, Romania, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Jordan, Maldives, Indonesia and Nepal are attending the event. The conference is aimed at initiating a dialogue amongst women parliamentarians on developing mechanisms, legislation and policies to prioritise women empowerment among governments of respective countries.

Sadiq said that although women were only 20 percent of the total strength of the lower house, almost 60 percent of the house business was run and generated by them. He said that despite a progress over the last century, the dream of equality was a long way from being realised. He mentioned maternal mortality and depriving women of inheritance rights.

“Despite high-profile advances, women still make up only 23 percent of the legislature, 8 percent of peace negotiators and only 28 women were heads of state or government,” he said adding that the House remains focused and targeted towards the wellbeing of the communities and human development if women legislators were actively involved in legislative processes.