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Performance of women MNAs lauded

By: Ramzan Chandio

KARACHI – The five-year legislative record of previous National Assembly showed that women had played a key role in picking up diverse issues, regarding violence, health, education, environment and governance, on the floor of the House, said a report compiled by the Legislative Watch Programme (LWP) of Aurat Foundation to be released on Wednesday (today).

The LWP has published a report in the form of book about the performance of women parliamentarians, who were part of the 12th National Assembly of Pakistan from 2002-2008. The organisation has traced the performance of the female legislator’s political journey in Pakistan during the last five years.

The report highlighted effective participation of women parliamentarians in carrying forward their political agenda in a dignified manner.

“The aspect of women’s active participation in legislation during last 5-year tenure of the National Assembly transformed the political culture of Pakistan to a great extent and shattered the myth that they were not ready or unwilling to join the mainstream politics, or they were not yet able to engage in electoral politics.

This also demonstrated the growing acceptance of women’s role in politics, both among political parties and the public, as different parties gave more party tickets to women on general seats while the people voted for them,” it observed.

The report continued that women’s representation in electoral politics has increased after the 2002 elections due to two factors.

Firstly, women got the 17 per cent quota of seats in National and Provincial Assemblies and the Senate through the LFO, and secondly, and more significantly, due to the highest ever number of women winning the 2002 elections on general seats.

It increased their overall representation to almost 20 per cent in 2002, from a meagre 1.4 per cent in the 11th National Assembly (1997-1999).

It may be noted that the LFO had reserved 60 seats for women in the National Assembly in a House of 342 (17%); 17 in the 100-member Senate (17%); 66 in 371-member Punjab Assembly; 29 in 168-member Sindh Assembly; 22 in 124-member NWFP Assembly; and 11 in 65-member Balochistan Assembly.

The report pointed out those female parliamentarians had raised crucial issues concerning women such as elimination of honour killing and repeal of the Hudood Ordinances on the assembly floor during the first year.

Other issues raised by the women parliamentarians through questions included: discriminatory obligation on women in Army Medical College to remain unmarried during education; posting of husband and wife in the same city; promotion of women’s work/handicraft in international market by the Export Promotion Bureau; number of women staff in the ministry of foreign affairs and girls’ education.

Aurat Foundation said the purpose of the study was to critically evaluate and highlight the performance and achievements of women parliamentarians in the National Assembly.

The report disclosed that during the fifth parliamentary year, 50 women members took part in regular business of the House and made 859 interventions which were around 82 per cent of the number of interventions made during the fourth parliamentary year.

In total, they submitted 18 calling attention notices, put 682 questions, raised 72 points of order and brought 15 motions on the whole (including privilege and adjournment motions), and moved 17 private members bills.

Women also members participated in the national debates on 50 occasions, the report concluded.
Source: The Nation
Date:4/15/2009

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