Women Parliamentary caucus KP – A hope for women voices to be heard

Dr. Sumaira Shams

“Political inequality has always been a fundamental challenge in Pakistan, more particularly women’s participation is tokenized. Women not only have barriers to voting but also face challenges to get leadership roles in political parties as well as representation in policy making and governance.”
Women’s empowerment can be defined to promoting women’s sense of self-worth, their ability to determine their own choices, and their right to influence social change for themselves and others. Women empowerment also include their rights of education, health, security, jobs, skills, decision making authority, better living standard, and respect. When women live safe, fulfilled and productive lives, they can reach their full potential.
Women are the half of population of our country but still they have hindrances in getting their rights. From centuries, societies have been trying to develop without giving women their rights. Both male and females are equal members of a society and they are codependent. There is imbalance when it comes to exercising the power, men are more in power and dominate women. Women voices are unheard and their contribution to social and economic structure is undermined.
Recently, there has been growing interest in women empowerment. And introduction of women is part of our society now. Women have started performing different roles of working but still they are not equal to men. Even the government has mentioned in their manifesto that the women will be empowered and they will be given their rights. In an effort to work towards greater female empowerment in Pakistan, national and international humanitarian organizations are working with Pakistani women.
In the same way the Female parliamentarians of Khyber PakhtunKhwa are working hard from the platform of women Parliamentary Caucus to empower women in every manner. In 2016, a resolution was passed by KP assembly as a result of which, WPC was formed where women will collectively work on women related legislation and endorse women agenda beyond party lines.
First WPC was chaired by Ms. Anisa Zaib, and as she became minister labor and mines, Ms. Miraj Hamayoon was elected as the second Chairperson, after completion of her tenure of 2.5 years. Ms. Maliha Ali Asghar has the honor of being third chairperson.
I being the current WPC chairperson and the youngest parliamentarian and youngest chairperson, Dr. sumera shams in the last 7 months under my Leadership WPC is playing its role very actively. The cabinet of the caucus is composed of Senior Vice chairperson, Vice Chairperson, General Secretary, Information Secretary, Joint Secretary and Finance Secretary.
The WPC is thriving under my leadership as in this tenure a bill on Domestic violence is passed by the hard work of female parliamentarians after 22 years of efforts. Home Based workers Bill is also presented by one of the female MPA, ZEENAT BIBI on the assembly floor and the bill is tabled as well.. Another big achievement of Caucus is that a Day Care Center and breast feeding corner is established in KP Assembly after the Struggle of MPA, Dr. Asia Assad.
Fifteen working committees are formed in this period, all are related to emerging women issues like women trafficking, protection of women against Harassment, Honor killing crimes, GBV Bolo Helpline and pro women laws. All the members of Caucus are leading different committees. I the chairperson of caucus myself working on the Child Marriages Bill and I am also member of other important committees. Our General body meetings are conducted in which progress of the committees is discussed and new way forwards are decided to make the work of Caucus more effective.
Women parliamentarians working collectively as caucus is the hope for women voices of grass root level to be heard and their issues to be resolved. Capacity building of members working in working groups is also conducted by different partners from development sector to enhance their skills. A training of Post legislative Scrutiny (PLS) of Female Members has been conducted to polish their legislative skills and enhance their knowledge to do legislations more efficiently.