ISLAMABAD: A three-day dialogue among women parliamentarians of the United Kingdom, Afghanistan and Pakistan ended on Saturday with a resolve to promote gender equality in education.
The parliamentarians were of the view that investing in education for girls yields strong returns across other sectors, including reproductive health and economic growth.
The three-day dialogue was the third meeting organised under the Parliamentary Partnership Programme between the Women’s Parliamentary Caucus (WPC) of the parliament of Pakistan and the CPA UK.
The first meeting in this regard took place in London in May 2012 and addressed the political empowerment of women, while the second meeting was held in Islamabad that reviewed the economic empowerment of women.
This was the third meeting held here in Islamabad from February 20 to February 22, which focussed on the maternal health and education of women in the three countries – Afghanistan, Pakistan and the UK.
The participants of the dialogue stressed the need to develop strategies to address the challenges in implementing legislations regarding education in order to ensure that both boys and girls had equal access to primary, secondary and higher education.
They asked for encouraging standardisation of monitoring and evaluation mechanisms at a national and provincial levels and explore ways through which women parliamentarians could be champions of education in their legislatures and in their respective constituencies, and work together to form multi-party consensus on education.
They also called for scrutinising the allocation of education resources in the national, regional and local budgets and advocating for increase in budgetary allocations.
They said that projects and plans, as well as resource allocations should primarily focus on the most poverty-stricken areas. They called for promoting discussions on family planning through parliamentary debates and questions to obtain authentic data and statistical information. They also stressed the need for drawing media attention to the importance of family planning services.
They sought focus on the development of strategies to address issues related to reproductive, maternal and child health, besides making effective legislation and raising public awareness on the same.
They said that the authorities should work towards ensuring sufficient health provision for pregnant women and new mothers. Ensuring adequate nutrition for children in their early years was another resolve of the participants.
The participants also asked the authorities to initiate plans and implement activities aimed at building and strengthening alliances and cooperation among women parliamentarians at the national, regional and international levels.
They urged the authorities to work closely with the national and provincial women commissions to reinforce the efforts towards women empowerment, besides calling for exploring ways through which the Women’s Parliamentary Caucuses of Pakistan and Afghanistan could share their successes and encourage the establishment of similar caucuses in the Pakistani provinces.
They also sought further cooperation among the Women’s Parliamentary Caucuses members through planning and delivering a multilateral programme in London for women parliamentarians from the UK and the South Asian legislatures.
They also asked the authorities to enhance the role of women towards greater participation in conflict resolution, peace-building and reconstruction processes nationally, regionally, and globally.
The Afghan delegation consisted of two women parliamentarians, headed by Dr Golalai Nur Safi, while the CPA UK delegation of five members included three members of parliament and two members of the House of Lords, led by Lord Speaker Baroness D’Souza. The WPC delegation consisted of 13 members, which was led by MNA Dr Fehmida Mirza, the former speaker of the National Assembly and patron of the WPC.