The Patron’s Message
As you are aware, immediately after the general elections of 18th February, 2008, I received the honor of being elected as the first ever woman Speaker of the National Assembly. After this unprecedented and historical milestone in the history of Pakistan, I started working towards realizing the vision of Shaheed Mohtramma Benazir Bhutto to bring together the women parliamentarians across party affiliations on one platform aiming at working collectively for the cause of women in Pakistan. Within a few months of my assuming the office of the Speaker, in November 2008, I succeeded in establishing the long awaited and first ever Women’s Parliamentary Caucus. Shaheed Mohtramma Benazir Bhutto had always wanted the women parliamentarians to unite as a strong and collective voice of the Pakistani women.
Over the last decade, the context within which Members of Parliament fulfill their work has dramatically changed in Pakistan and continues to do so. Women parliamentarians are emerging politically stronger and rather proactive. I am pleased to state that the establishment of a Women’s Parliamentary Caucus in the Parliament of Pakistan is realization of a vision that aims at strengthening the women representatives in the Parliament and providing them a niche to emerge as a collective voice on women issues across the board.
Women issues around the world are more or less the same and Pakistan is no exception. Their needs and concerns, therefore, have to be addressed by women representatives collectively as a joint responsibility.
All legislation and policy making has to be gender responsive and the implementation of these laws, policies and plans need to be monitored and ensured accordingly through institutionalized forums/mechanisms within the Parliament. It is with this spirit that I managed to attain a broad-based consensus amongst all women representatives in the two Houses of the Parliamentarian to become one voice of the women of Pakistan in the form of WPC.
The purpose of WPC is to facilitate exchange of views and information on critical areas of concern, particularly social discriminatory practices at different levels both national and international. The WPC also aims at ensuring that gender concerns are adequately translated into legislation, policies and programmes.
Women empowerment is imperative for development and prosperity as well as for strengthening democracy in the country. I am confident that the Women’s Parliamentary Caucus will contribute towards making this into a reality rather than leaving it as just another aspiration.
My vision of WPC is to strengthen and further build on its mandate by going beyond and making it into a vibrant platform to ensure parliamentary oversight for the implementation of all our national and international commitments, and ensuring that the lives of common women are impacted in a positive way. It is with this perspective that I look forward to replicating and establishing women caucuses not only at the provincial level but also at the regional level.
With the keen interest and strong commitment demonstrated by the honorable members of our WPC, I am confident that we shall soon achieve our objectives.
With all my sincere blessings,
Dr. Fehmida Mirza
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