Formation of WPC
Formation Of WPC
|The Initial Efforts
The tragic assassination of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto remains the most shocking incident of Pakistan’s history. The heinous and deplorable act reinforced the need for across-the-board political reconciliation and national integration, a political philosophy that Ms.Bhutto vigorously advocated in her lifetime and which is largely accepted today as her last legacy.
An ardent advocate of women’s rights as equal citizens of the country, Mohtarma also strived for creating effective forums for women empowerment and representation. The opening of First Women’s Bank, creation of separate Women Police Stations, appointment of women judges in superior courts and establishment of a full-fledged Ministry of Women Development are some of the landmark achievements of her era. It was also during her tenure as Prime Minister when initial steps to organise women political leaders on a common platform were taken. Consequently, Islamabad hosted the first ever International Conference of Muslim Women Parliamentarians in August 1994. It was seen as an effort to bring women parliamentarians on a common agenda with a permanent forum.
While proposing the formation of such a Caucus for the first time, Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, had articulated a multi-dimensional approach to enhancing women’s role as Parliamentarians. She had highlighted the need:
— to take up gender concerns through the institutional structures of the parliament ensuring that norms promoting women’s rights and empowerment were translated into national legislations;
— to coordinate and communicate with major women’s organizations both in the public and private sectors outside the Parliament to oversee and extend support to implementation of gender sensitive policies and programmes and
— to connect with women parliamentarians across the globe by forming and strengthening alliances both with Muslim women parliamentarians and the non-Muslim world separately and collectively.
However, with her dismissal, the move could not hold grounds. Efforts for creating a Women’s Caucus were also made after 2002 elections, when some 75 women were sitting as the Members of the 12th National Assembly but were met with little support, owing to the charged and deeply polarized political atmosphere, prevailing then in the country.
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