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Sunday July 21, 2024

Women MPs lead male members in attending NA, Senate proceedings: Fafen

By Asim Yasin
March 10, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Women members of the National Assembly and Senate upheld their tradition to assertively perform their legislative, representative and oversight functions during 2022-23.

According to a FAFEN report on women parliamentarians’ performance during 2022-23, constituting one-fifth of the parliament, women parliamentarians accounted for nearly 35 percent of the parliamentary agenda during 2022-2023 – 36 percent in the National Assembly and 30 percent in the Senate.

Women remained the most regular members in both houses throughout the year, which witnessed a spiral of political instability arising out of public protests orchestrated by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) after a resolution of no-confidence against the former prime minister passed in April 2022.

Barring its 20 members, PTI MNAs, including 27 women members, stayed away from assembly proceedings during the entire year on the pretext of en masse resignations, which were only retracted earlier this year.

According to the FAFEN report, on average, each female (MNA) attended 57 (66 percent) of the National Assembly sittings as compared to an average of 46 (53 percent) sittings attended by their male counterparts. Similarly, each female senator attended an average of 39 (68 percent) Senate sittings against their male counterparts’ average of 32 (56 percent) sittings.

Despite remarkable contributions made by women legislators, their agenda continued to be neglected in the parliament. Almost half of the Calling Attention Notices (CANs), more than two-thirds of the private member bills, and all private member resolutions, motions for public interest discussions, and proposals for amendments to Assembly rules either lapsed or remained pending until the last session.

The questions remained the only intervention where female MNAs received a higher response rate than their male colleagues. Women parliamentarians accounted for nearly 35 percent of the parliamentary agenda (both in the Senate and National Assembly collectively) during the year – 32 percent on their own and three percent in collaboration with their men colleagues.

They sponsored 29 percent (60 out of 206) private members’ bills, 29 percent (12 out of 42) private members’ resolutions, 29 percent (14 out of 48) CANs, 26 percent (19 out of 73) motions for discussion on public interest issues, 17 percent (two out of 12) proposals for amendments in the rules of procedure of their respective House, and 35 percent (730 out of 2,159) questions. Female MNAs contributed 33 percent agenda on their own and three percent in collaboration with male counterparts, whereas female senators contributed 27 percent agenda on their own and three percent in collaboration with male senators.

In addition to their contribution to the agenda, women lawmakers also actively participated in the debates on scheduled business, and in raising Points of Order. On an average, each female MNA contributed 18 agenda items to the Orders of the Day against nine by male MNAs.

Similarly, each female senator contributed 12 agenda items to the Orders of the Day against nine by male senators. Thematically, the women parliamentarians sought discussions on a range of issues of public importance, including inflation, energy supply and pricing, the performance of government departments, protection of women, children and human rights, and law and order in the country.

According to the FAFEN report, the legislative agenda put forward by women parliamentarians included health reforms, protection of workers’ rights, governance and institutional reforms, along with constitutional amendments concerning women’s rights, transgender rights, amendments to criminal laws for improved protection of women and children.