Pakistan has been a leader in empowering women in the field of politics by elevating women to national leadership positions, said Australian High Commissioner in Pakistan Margaret Adamson on Thursday.
Addressing as a keynote speaker at a three-day-long international conference at Karachi University on Wednesday, Adamson compared women in politics in Pakistan with her home country and praised the former for offering women more space to succeed in public office.
The conference titled “Towards Inclusive Governance and Efficient Institutions for Sustainable Development” was organised by KU’s Applied Economics Research Center (AERC) at HEJ Auditorium.
American Consul General Grace W. Shelton was also in attendance and also addressed the gathering. “Despite being one of the first countries to grant women the right to vote, it took until 2010 before women filled the highest offices of the Prime Minister and Governor General in Australia,” said Adamson.
However, there still isn’t parity among the genders in the Australian parliament. While there are more women in the civil service, they are still behind men at leadership levels, she added. “In Pakistan, there are impressive numbers of female students in every scientific and economics field but it is rare to find women in academic leadership roles,” she said.
Citing some examples of women in prominent public offices, the Australia high commissioner said Tehmina Janjua had been appointed the first ever female foreign secretary, while Balochistan Assembly had also elected its first woman speaker – Rahilla Durrani – and Punjab had also given prominent portfolios to women leaders such as Aisha Pasha who is Punjab’s finance minister.
“There are also prominent women working in the field of law like Asma Jehangir and Hina Jilani while the world’s youngest Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousufzai is also a Pakistani. There are women in every field including air force, police and cricket,” she said.
The diplomat added that the Australian government has made gender equality a core domestic and foreign policy priority but there was still a long way to go. In her keynote speech, American Consul General Grace W. Shelton said that the US was doing great work on gender equality both domestically and internationally.
“America wants to see gender equality policy prevailing in the developing countries since it’s a tool of development,” she said, adding Pakistan was among the countries being funded for gender equality initiatives and policy-making.