Panel Discussion on Women’s Leadership, Voice and Political Participation.

The Australian High Commission in collaboration with National Assembly of Pakistan and PIPS organized a panel discussion on “Women’s Leadership, Voice and Political Participation” on April 21, 2016 from 3:00 to 6:00 pm at Pakistan Institute for Parliamentary Services PIPS. Attended by around 50 participants from civil society organizations and diplomatic community, the event began with introductory remarks by Ms. Kate Graham, First Secretary Development Cooperation, Australian High Commission and Ms. Yanthe Cornelissen, Coordination Specialist, followed by welcome address from Australian High Commissioner, Ms. Margaret Adamson. 
Remarks by UN WOMEN Country Representative, Mr. Jamshed Kazi, also preceded the panel discussion, which was initiated by Honorable MNA, Ms. Bushra Gohar. During her talk she identified various hurdles faced by women MPs as well as women in general in exercising their political rights, as a number of women cannot vote freely. She also highlighted the plight of IDPs in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa particularly the women children who have been facing challenges in rebuilding their lives in the wake of armed conflict. 
On a statistical note the Acting Executive Director PIPS Mr Muhammad Rashid Mafzool Zaka underscored that during last 10 months the contribution of women MPs at the National Parliament was around 60% as compared to men MPs. He also identified towards an evolving paradigm shift among women MPs from soft-issues to high-politics attributed to women MPs’ voice and participation in recent past. For example women leaders like Honorable Speaker Provincial Assembly of Balochistan, Ms. Rahila Hameed Khan Durrani, and Ms. Bushra Gohar have significantly contributed in the ongoing debate on security and conflict. He also emphasized that gradually from reserved seats there needs to be political consensus that parties should be bound to make women candidate compete on 30% general seats for direct election. 
Honorable MNA/General Secretary Women Parliamentary Caucus (WPC), Ms. Shaista Pervez Malik, highlighted the role of the Women Parliamentary Caucus, which is a cross party venture, in bringing about change in the lives of women through effective legislation. Lamenting the hurdles which came in the way of the women protection bill in the province of Punjab, she appreciated the success of similar legislation in some other provinces in the country. 
Honorable MNA/General Secretary Young Parliamentarians Forum (YPF) spoke on youth engagement. In this regard she underscored the contribution of the caucuses such as YPF and the Women Parliamentary Caucus, in bringing about legislation as well as shaping the policy making process at national as well as in provincial assemblies. An interactive questions and answers session followed the panel discussion, which ended with closing remarks by Australian High Commissioner, Ms. Margaret Adamson and UN WOMEN Country Representative, Mr. Jamshed Kazi. 
In the end Mr Zaka presented vote of thanks on behalf of Ms Marriyum Aurangzeb, MNA and Convener SDGs Parliamentary Taskforce, as well as PIPS team to Australian High Commission, YPF and WPC for their support and participation.

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