Women Parliamentarians agree on resolutions to improve leadership and political opportunities for women

Jul 17, 2014

National women’s commissions and caucuses across the region face similar challenges: limited human and financial resources, poor positioning and remaining at the lowest tier in the government hierarchy as well as struggling with development and welfare approach. Taking a regional approach to a pervasive problem, a two-day South Asian Regional Exchange meeting of parliamentarians, representatives of women’s caucuses, Women’s Ministries, Women’s Commissions, and Election Commissions, as well as UN agencies and international development partners was held in Kathmandu, Nepal from 15-17 July.

The South Asian Regional Exchange Meeting, hosted by Pakistan Women’s Parliamentary Caucus, the Pakistan National Commission on the Status of Women and the Nepal National Women’s Commission, with support from UN Women and UNDP included more than 100 participants from Nepal and 45 delegates from Afghanistan, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka took part in the meeting. Participants shared good practices and lessons learned in their countries, agreed on recommendations and a common South Asian regional approach to improving women’s political participation and leadership.

The meeting focused on technical sessions addressing mechanisms to enhance women’s political participation; challenges and opportunities for national women’s commissions; and possible legal and institutional provisions to end violence against women and girls. The meeting concluded with a consensus on key recommendations to enhance women’s representation and leadership in public decision-making, national parliaments and local councils, media and civil society.

Ms. Sophie Kemkhadze, UNDP Nepal Deputy Representative, observed, “Political empowerment goes hand in hand with economic empowerment. We at UNDP commit to supporting gender equality for the equal participation of men and women in society”.

Ms. Shaista Parvez Malik, General Secretary of the Pakistan Women’s Parliamentary Caucus, lit a lamp to inaugurate the meeting, saying “While a lot is being done in all of our countries and we acknowledge that we have come a long way, there is a need to do a lot more. Empowerment is not restricted to one sphere, we need to bring women forth in education, equal economic opportunities and also decision-making. We need to bring about a change in attitude and bring women forward from the grassroots to give them a 10 percent quota on winnable seats in political parties. Nations win if women win, let us hold hands and become one voice and one face for the voiceless and faceless women”.

Ms. Khawer Mumtaz, Chairperson of the Pakistan National Commission on the Status of Women, stated that “It is time for us to establish mechanisms and institutions at a regional level”. She added “Violence against women and girls is the most potent barrier to women’s development, equality and opportunities”. She highlighted the need to bring these recommendations to the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).

Other participants from Pakistan included Ms. Syeda Shehla Raza, Convener Provincial Caucus Sindh Assembly, Ms. Amina Sardar, member Provincial Caucus KP Assembly, Ms. Spozmai Achakzai, member Provincial Caucus Balochistan Assembly and Mr. Syed Sher Afgan, Additional Secretary ECP.

The assembly agreed to develop standardised indicators to measure the extent of violence against women and to ensure the availability of comparable data in the region.  The group also agreed to set up a regional portal to facilitate information sharing and peer learning, and to establish regional alliances of women parliamentarians, national women’s empowerment mechanisms and election monitoring bodies.  

For more information, please contact:

Durga Prasad Khatiwada, Programme Specialist and Governance and National Planning Unit Head; UN Women Nepal, 201/42 Ramshahpath, Thapathali, Kathmandu, Nepal; Tel: +977 1 4255110/4254899 Ext.: 119  |  E-mail: durga.khatiwada@unwomen.org

Fatimah Inayet, Communications Analyst, Communications Unit; UNDP Pakistan; Tel: +92-51-835-5650  |  Email: fatimah.inayet@undp.org

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