LAHORE - Demanding an end to the discriminatory practices that prevent women to play their role in the family, society and mainly in the political system, the people representing civil society organisations, mostly the women parliamentarians from South Asian countries, have urged their respective governments to repeal all gender insensitive and discriminatory laws and replace them with universal civil/criminal codes that treat all citizens equally, irrespective of their gender, caste or religious persuasion. Representative women from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka assembled in Lahore and discussed the issues of engendering democratic governance in South Asia for three consecutive days, and came up with a joint declaration in the form of a set of demands and recommendations aiming at creating an enabling environment where women could freely, fairly and fearlessly participate in the realm of politics on equal terms with men and contribute towards promoting stable democratic governance and just social systems. South Asia Partnership-Pakistan and SAP-International had organised the three-day moot at a local hotel here to provide a forum to women of the region to share their experiences on gender issues and to put forward their recommendations in this regard. In the joint declaration issued at the end of the conference, they expressed grave concern over plight of women, saying they lagged behind in the political arena despite the provision of international instruments, national laws, policies and efforts of civil society and women politicians. They demanded that all laws, policies, governance institutions, the judiciary, election commissions, other constitutional bodies and political parties must be democratised and engendered. They noted with concern that there was an alarmingly low participation of women in politics and in decision-making processes due to the presence of a range of discriminatory practices and gender insensitive laws and policies and absence of gender sensitive governance institutions and monitoring mechanisms. We, therefore, demand an end to the gender insensitive, masculine culture within the political systems of South Asian region in order to encourage women politicians to firmly establish themselves in decision making positions, said the declaration. The declaration also stressed upon governments to ensure at least 33 per cent reserved seats for women in all elected bodies, besides 50 per cent representation in the political parties and in decision making positions at all levels of governance. In his presidential address to participants of the conference, Executive Director Human Rights Commission of Pakistan IA Rehman disagreed with the title of the conference, and said the issue of engendering democratic governance could only be raised if some genuine democratic government was in place. He said a set up could not be called democratic if it denied equal opportunities to women in all spheres of life, especially in the political realm.