Women MPs urged to participate in legislation effectively
LAHORE: Women parliamentarians have been urged to participate in the law-making process of the Punjab Assembly, especially the legislations concerning women’s rights, more effectively.
Speaking at the working group meeting on ‘Provincial legislative agenda on women’s rights: Sharing of ideas and identifying priority issues’, at a Liberty Market hotel here on Tuesday, Justice Nasira Javed Iqbal (retired) said that women representatives in the provincial and national assemblies had immensely contributed towards women’s empowerment through their legislative actions. However, owing to several constraints and factors, work in certain crucial areas either could have not been initiated or had been left incomplete.
Labour Department deputy-director Naveed Warraich, Industrial Relations Institute director Saeed Awan and Hanif Ramay of the Muttahida Labour Federation’s Punjab chapter were key speakers at the meeting which recommended that women’s party caucus should be strengthened.
They urged the government to fulfill its promise to provide 10 per cent jobs quota to women in all its departments at all levels, particularly in decision-making positions.
The provisions of the Sexual Harassment Act, 2010, must be displayed prominently and explained to all female workers. There should be clear legislation and codes of conduct on the responsibility of security personnel concerning internal prevention and response to human rights violations, including disciplinary procedures.
Political parties should allocate funds for their women workers and there should be orientation programmes on assembly proceedings so that members could get knowledge about it.
Legislation on women’s issues must be taught to all women parliamentarians and trained staff of the assembly secretariat must be assigned exclusively to them.
Development funds should be allocated for women’s projects. Discrimination in release of funds for the women elected on general seats and those elected on reserved seats should be ended.
The meetings of house steering committees should be regularised and vocational training centres should be opened wherever informal schools or literacy centres already existed.
The National Database Registration Authority (NADRA) should automatically register all persons over 18 years of age as voters while issuing CNIC which must bear photos to avoid fraud.
Electoral laws should declare such elections to be void in which women were excluded from voting by political parties. Political parties should also ensure equal participations for women in their manifestoes. There should be gender review of manifestoes of all political parties that should organise training programs for the political awareness of their women workers at grassroots.
Women parliamentarians should direct all their efforts to create such government-funded projects and programmes that could bridge the gender gap; create space for women within the existing system; address child rights issues; and try to change the existing system for the betterment of the ordinary woman.
There should be affirmative action policies and laws to provide Pakistani women opportunity to become equal partners with men in national development efforts.
Women reserved seats should be allocated to women technocrats (50 per cent) political workers (25 per cent) educated female counterparts of male politicians (25 per cent) in an attempt to form an efficient and effective working force of parliamentarians dedicated to make that substantive contribution required to empower women at all levels.
Gender sensitive operations, leading to gender equality, must be conducted with the help of exclusive women task forces in accordance with the present government policy.
Political reforms facilitating effective participation of women in the political sphere must be ensured within all political parties.
Reforms in public sector recruitment process and safe working conditions in offices to encourage women for employment in all sectors should be ensured by implementation of present international and national laws.
An awareness campaign should be launched for empowerment of marginalised female population. Knowledge of female laws and programmes would enable women to play their due substantive role in the overall socioeconomic development of the society.
There should be affirmative action for the implementation of the existing laws, especially concerning inheritance that existed but women were not given their share in inheritance.
There should be legislation for an increased participation of female parliamentarians on security-related committees. There should be refresher courses for women parliamentarians and back-up technical support for making laws, they added.
Aurat Foundation Legislative Watch Programme provincial coordinator Mumtaz Mughal said that the working paper on the current status of women’s legislative agenda included achievements and what needed to be done.
The task was completed with the help of the assembly’s record and input of some members of the Punjab Assembly and with the assistance of the USAID-Pakistan to enhance knowledge of women parliamentarians and women in political parties on specific women right issues, Mumtaz added.