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> First Year of Increased Women Representation in the Parliament:
   Lessons, Reflections and the Way Forward
Inauguration & Dilogue
February 09, 2004
Hotel Serena, Islamabad

Programme [62 KB]
Background Paper [PDF]

Women have taken an overwhelming interest in building their legislative capability and learning about crucial issues despite a slow-paced first legislative year. However, an enabling environment and a better acceptance of their public role is required for a productive impact of their representation. These views were expressed by the speakers at a dialogue held on the First Year of Increased Women Representation in the Parliament held by Pakistan Legislative Strengthening Consortium – PLSC.


The dialogue was held at the occasion of the launch of USAID-funded three-year project of strengthening national and provincial legislative governance in Pakistan. The project is aimed at building the capacity of the members and staff of the National Assembly, Senate and the four provincial assemblies of Pakistan. Strengthening civil society to effectively engage with the parliament is also a part of the project objectives.


Speakers suggested that the overall performance of parliament, including those of female legislators, has not been ideal during the first year, but special measures need to be taken to enhance the effective representation of female legislators for the future. They believed that female legislators should insist on getting representation in the committees for an effective voice in legislatures. They said that female legislators should not just raise women’s issues but focus on other crucial issues as well.


A panel of discussants comprising prominent MNAs, MPAs from four provincial assemblies and Senate led the discussion at the dialogue. Female MNAs complained of a lesser opportunity to express themselves on issues in the parliament. Highlighting issues of female representation, they said that women whether elected directly or indirectly, face discrimination in one form or the other. To counter this, education is necessary for people to have greater acceptability of women in public life, and for women to have greater visibility in public life. A crucial issue most cited during the discussion was the lack of support infrastructure available to legislators regardless of their gender. The Speaker of the National Assembly assured legislators of his support in solving this issue.


Strengthening National and Provincial Legislative Governance project is executed by Pakistan Legislative Strengthening Consortium – PLSC, which is a group of two international organisations namely World Vision and IFES-International Foundation for Election Systems and five Pakistani organisations: PILDAT-Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development And Transparency, The Researchers, IRDO-Integrated Research and Development Organisation, AWARD-All Women Advancement and Resource Development and CCHD-Citizens Commission for Human Development. PILDAT will lead the legislative training aspect of the project. The Researchers will lead the Civil Society Action Group and will also be responsible for activities in Sindh province. IRDO, AWARD and CCHD will be responsible for the project activities in Balochistan, North West Frontier Province and Punjab respectively. IFES is responsible for national research and media components of the project while the World Vision is responsible for the management and coordination of the project.


Audio proceedings and a complete report of the event will be uploaded here shortly. Keeping watching this space for updates.