PESHAWAR: Speakers at a function on Thursday demanded at least 33 percent quota for women in the parliament against the 17 percent to give the women folk more representation in the legislature.
The event was organised in connection with the International Women’s Day celebrated which is celebrated on March 8 annually across the globe to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women and highlight their hardships.
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Women’s Parliamentary Caucus (WPC), a body of women legislators in the Provincial Assembly, had organised the event. Collaboration was struck with the Unite Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The WPC encourages woman lawmakers to demand rights for themselves and provides a platform to them to struggle for rights and bring business relating to women issues to the assembly.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly Deputy Speaker and Senator-elect Dr Meher Taj Roghani, lawmaker and WPC chairperson Meraj Humayun Khan, Vice-President, Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Rukhsana Bibi, Country Head of Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation in Pakistan Dr Stefani Burri, Mudassar Alam of Center for Governance and Public Accountability and others male and female legislature spoke on the occasion.
A number of male and female legislators of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly, women rights activists and members of the civil society attended the event.
The speakers said that women constituted 50 percent of the country’s total population but lamented that they were not given due share in jobs and other fields of life in the country.
Meraj Humayun Khan gave a detailed presentation about the WPC. She said the WPC had three prime objectives to work for themselves, legislate for provision of facilities to working women as well as for those women who shouldered responsibilities inside their homes.
The lawmaker said that women had less representation in the parliament while working women were not given due respect and lacked the facilities their male counterparts enjoyed. The women at homes were facing a number of hardships and were vulnerable to all kinds of violence.
She said that women folk, particularly those at homes were financially weak and lacked proper healthcare facilities. The legislator said that the WPC carried out various studies on the status of women and their treatment in urban and rural, under-developed and comparatively developed areas. It has, she added, proposed legislation to put an end to violence against women, provide them due rights and equal opportunities in all fields of life.
Meraj Humayun said that disinheritance and financial inequality were the two major issues the women were facing, adding they received less complaints of domestic violence against women in their studies.
She said the WPC proposed, tabled and got passed the Domestic Violence Bill, bill against dowry and others.
The lawmaker said seven other bills relating to women issues they presented in the provincial assembly were pending and awaited passage.
Mudassir Alam highlighted the legislation carried out for women, rights provision and protection. He pointed out some shortcomings in these laws and proposed amendments.
He said just legislation would not serve the purpose and called for complete implementation of laws to pass on the benefits to the people. Up to 1,700 laws have been enacted in the country so far but only 96 were enforced partially, he pointed out.
Dr Mehr Taj Roghani in her brief speech highlighted some key issues facing the working women and efforts of the provincial government to address the same.
Rukhsana Bibi said that women should do business and not just vie for government jobs. She said the chamber had started various capacity building programmes for women and all the women should benefit from these initiatives and start small and medium business to improve their financial status and support their families financially.
Dr Stefani Burri in her short address expressed pleasure over the appointment of a few women against the highest government offices in the recent past and hoped that the women were gradually getting due importance in Pakistan.