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  • (+92) 51-2278134, (+92) 51-2278135

SDPI Press Release: SDPI Third meeting of Women Parliamentary Council (WPC)

  • Monday, 19th May 2014
  • Islamabad

Pakistan is facing a systemic problem of violence against women, and parliamentarians irrespective of their political affiliations should work for pro-women legislation. This was the consensus point of more than two dozen women parliamentarians present in the third meeting of Women Parliamentarians Council (WPC), a forum of Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), in Islamabad.

Stressing the need for making CNIC compulsory for marriage registration, the women MPs demanded that registration of divorce should also be made compulsory. The MPs, highlighting the plight of women in prisons, suggested measures for their economic rehabilitation once they complete their sentence.

Criticizing the discriminatory treatment meted out to women parliamentarians, who come to assemblies on reserved seats, the women MPs discussed in detail the problems faced by them in parliament, including marginalization in decision-making, lack of research support, gender discrimination, and inequality in political process. They were of the view that women's political empowerment and their meaningful inclusion in decision-making was fundamental for any constructive and sustainable democratic change in Pakistan. However, few of them showed satisfaction on the effectiveness of their role as parliamentarians, and denied any instances of political marginalization.

Earlier, in his opening remarks, Dr. Abid Qaiyum Suleri, the Executive Director of SDPI, said that there is a dearth of research evidence on various issues of national concern and policy think-tanks should rigorously provide research support to parliamentarians so as to strengthen their role in evidence based policy making. "SDPI is not only committed to provide research support to the honourable women parliamentarians but also plans to extend legislative drafting support to them", added Dr Suleri, while informing the participants that SDPI research secretariat for women parliamentarians would be operational very soon.

Dr. Suleri said that a populace of almost 180 million, regardless of limited resources at hand, is expanding at an alarming rate of 1.8%. The nation is today locked in an intricate trap of crises starting from energy to unemployment, gender disparities, economic growth and security issues. He argued that policy prescriptions to these solutions often lack evidences and a mismatch of such policies with ground realities leads to weak implementation. While talking about the post 18th Amendment scenario, he said that some functions have been assigned to provincial ministries, yet the challenge of transition of policy processes from federal government to the provinces is huge for the political governments in center and the provinces. Meanwhile, findings of a research study on "State of policies and legislations to curb Violence Against Women (VAW) at federal and provincial (KP and Punjab) level" conducted under AAWAZ programme, were also shared with the participants.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Vaqar Ahmed, the Deputy Executive Director of SDPI, told the meeting that in the Gender Inequality Index, Pakistan Ranks 115 out of 140 countries. “According to the Gender Empowerment Measure of UNDP, Pakistan is placed at 82 out of 93 countries.” He said that in the current situation, SDPI continues to strive for a better future for Pakistan by advocating evidence based policy making.

Mome Saleem, SDPI’s Senior Researcher, sharing the findings of SDPI-AAWAZ research with the participants, said: “SDPI believes that Women policy makers are not only the voice of general public but also a guarantee to gender responsive policy making."

The meeting was attended by MNA Arifa Khalid, MNA Romina Khusheed Alam, MNA Shahida Akhtar, MNA Naeema Kishwar Khan, MNA Musarat Ahmedzeb, Senator Robina Khalid, MNA Dr. Shahida Rehmani, MNA Anita Khalid, MNA Shmas ul Nisa, MNA  Aisha, Senator Farah Aqil, MNA Suriya Jatoi. Also members of Punjab Assembly Suraya Naseem, Lubna Rehan, Tamkeen Akhter, Niazi & members of Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa Assembly Maliha Khan and Nagina Khan. Naghma Imdad from DAI and Ambreen Ajaib from SPO were also present. The women parliamentarians lauded the SDPI’s role in policy advocacy. Ambassador (r) Shafqat Kakakhel, the Chairperson of Board of Governors of SDPI, presented the vote of thanks.