ISLAMABAD, Oct 30: Federal Minister for Women Development Sherry Rehman has said the government was not considering any amendment to the local government ordinance to reduce the number of seats reserved for women.
“There is no question of depriving women of their right to representation at any level. The PPP government would never consider such a proposal,” she said while talking to the representatives of Women Councillors Network here on Wednesday. The WCN representatives met the minister to express concern over reports regarding reduction in women’s seats in the local government. Earlier, reports in the media had implied that the NWFP government had decided to amend the Local Government Act 2008, envisaging 50 per cent reduction in women’s seats.
“Neither the PPP nor the Awami National Party, that leads the NWFP coalition government, would support such a proposal. Women’s empowerment is an integral part of our manifesto pledge and we are bound by our commitment to facilitate political participation for women.”
Ms Rehman also spoke to the federal minister for local government Ghulam Ahmed Bilour who denied seeking any such proposal.
Ms Rehman said women’s interest would be protected in case of any changes in the local government system. “We would not support any proposition that harms the cause of women’s representation at any level of the governmental setup. Women’s participation in political activities is the most important part of a democratic order, and our government is working to strengthen it.”
Describing the grassroots contacts of women councillors as “their biggest strength”, Ms Rehman said women councillors had an opportunity to act as the most effective engine of change. Â“There is a need for women councillors to advance the qualitative aspect of their service, as they are playing a significant role in bridging the gap between the common citizens and the government machinery.”
Later speaking at a press conference, president Women Councillors’ Network Bismillah Irum expressed her satisfaction over the assurance held by Ms Rehman and hoped that the government would keep its promise.