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ISLAMABAD: Sri Lankan Deputy Minister for Petroleum Resources Development Dr Anoma Gamage has termed Pakistani women parliamentarians strong and assertive as compared to female legislators in other countries of South Asia.

“They were playing vital role for changing lives of women at grass-roots level in the country,” she said this while talking to APP.

The Sri Lankan minister, who came to Pakistan to attend the “International Conference on Role of Women Parliamentarians in Strengthening Democracy and Social Justice” said that Pakistani parliament did a lot of work for promulgating pro-women laws and they had good experience to empower women for their bright future.

Majority of the women faced same issue in the region, she said, adding that such international forum not only gave them open forum to discuss their issues, but also draw strategies collectively to solve their problems and raise their voice.

Member of Turkey’s parliament Zuhal Topcu said that Pakistan had always been a friendly and loving country, adding that “people of Pakistan always welcome us with open hearts and stand with Turkey in every difficult time”. She said: “It is always a good experience to visit here as it is a second home for us.”

She further said they had felt here fully secured and would give message to the world to come here and witness the truth rather than building their perceptions on the basis of propaganda.

Member of Nepal’s parliament Pemba Lama said that she had come to Pakistan for first time and found this a wonderful experience. It was quite different from what being portrayed by the media, she added.

She said: “People of Pakistan are peace-loving, very kind of nature and visionary to protect and promote women in their society and they warmly welcomed all of us.”

The founding member of Women Parliamentary Caucus Pakistan, Dr Fehmida, said that women did not want to lead their male counterparts, but just endeavouring to prove their abilities and empower themselves.

She said it was their right to be included in policies and legislations drafted for women rights, adding that, “our slogan is ‘Nothing for us without us’”.

Member of National Assembly Yasmeen Abbasi said that women wanted equal participation in every field and the best way to assert pressure is to raise a collective voice.

She said the participants of the conference were of the view that majority of the issues faced by women were same. So, she added, it was better to launch joint efforts for permanent solution of their issues.

Published in Dawn, March 20th, 2017