Trialogue Among Female MPs of Pakistan, UK & Afghanistan Ends

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Women’s Parliamentary Caucus, Pakistan, UK, Afghanisan,The Women’s Parliamentary Caucus (WPC) and Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) outlining the willingness of the two organisations to explore opportunities to collaborate on international programmes and activities when their interests and priorities coincide.

The MoU was signed on the concluding day of a three-day trialogue among women parliamentarians from Afghanistan, UK and Pakistan.

Women MPs from Afghanistan, Pakistan and UK met in Islamabad for three days, February 20-22, for the third meeting organised under the Parliamentary Partnership Programme between Women’s Parliamentary Caucus (WPC) of Pakistan and the CPA, UK.

The Afghan delegation comprised two women parliamentarians headed by Dr. Golalai Nur Safi. The CPA, UK, delegation of five members included three MPs and two members of the House of Lords and was led by the Lord Speaker Baroness D’Souza whereas and the WPC delegation comprising 13 members was led by former Speaker National Assembly and Patron of WPC MNA Dr. Fehmida Mirza.

Under the signed MoU, the frameworks within which the parties may agree to collaborate would include encouragement of open exchange of information and ideas that further programme objectives and strengthen organisational ties and exploration of opportunities for programme collaboration that considers the needs, interests, capacities and resources of each party and their beneficiaries.

Parties will also develop collaborative projects where opportunities arise and will work together to establishment Women’s Parliamentary Caucuses in the Pakistani provinces and in the wider South Asia region.

As part of the Parliamentary Partnership Programme between WPC and CPA-UK, this was the third meeting of women parliamentarians. The focus of this year’s dialogue was on the women’s health and education that brought out many interesting aspects of the state of women’s health and education in the three participating countries. The policies, plans, legislations and existing best practices within the three countries were shared and discussed on the given themes.

The key objective of this three-day programme is to enable the women parliamentarians to discuss issues, opportunities and challenges in legislation policy-making in their respective countries so as to improve governance by assuming greater and meaningful role as women parliamentarians in prioritising and promoting the social reform agenda across party lines. It seeks to give impetus to the legislative processes to respond effectively to the immediate and urgent needs and concerns of the women they represent.

The day three of the dialogue concluded with former National Assembly speaker and patron of the Women Parliamentary Caucus Dr. Fehmida Mirza in the chair who thanked the participants from the UK and Afghanistan as well showed her great appreciation for the National Assembly speaker for his wholehearted support in organising the dialogue. She talked about the past achievements of WPC with regard to legislation and women’s empowerment and extended her support establishing such caucuses in the region.

WPC General Secretary MNA Shaista Pervaiz Malik said the present management at WPC would continue efforts for women’s empowerment through legislation. She shared the plan of establishing thematic sub-committees of WPC for more focused interventions.

Responding to a question regarding implementation of the legislation, former MNA Yasmeen Rehman said that along with civil society and media, WPC can play a supervisory role to ensure effective implementation of pro-women laws.

Baroness D’Souza, who headed the UK delegation, highlighted the significance and the accomplishments of the WPC in Pakistan and termed it as a model for other countries to replicate. She said that implementation of laws is an issue faced by every country. She also shared the role played by women parliamentarians in the UK for legislation on women, children, youth and special people.

Dr. Gulali Nur Safi, head of the Afghanistan delegation, looked forward to greater collaboration with the women parliamentary caucuses of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The delegates agreed to develop strategies to address the challenges in implementing education legislation to ensure that both boys and girls have equal access to primary, secondary and higher education and encourage standardisation of monitoring and evaluation mechanisms at national and provincial level.

Besides committing to promote gender equality in education system, they suggested to explore ways through which women parliamentarians can be champions of education in their legislatures and in their respective constituencies and can work together to form multi-party consensus on education and agreed to scrutinize the allocation of education resources in national, regional and local budgets and advocate for increase in budgetary allocations. They also agreed to promote discussions on family planning through parliamentary debates.

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