MPA pushes for daycare facilities in govt depts to support women lawmakers

Updated May 17, 2019

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Mahjabeen Shereen, a member of the Balochistan Assembly, has pledged a campaign to amend laws barring women lawmakers from bringing their infants to sessions. — Photo courtesy of Balochistan Assembly website
Mahjabeen Shereen, a member of the Balochistan Assembly, has pledged a campaign to amend laws barring women lawmakers from bringing their infants to sessions. — Photo courtesy of Balochistan Assembly website

KARACHI: Mahjabeen Shereen, a member of the Balochistan Assembly, has pledged a campaign to amend laws barring women lawmakers from bringing their infants to sessions.

On Saturday, the MPA was strongly criticised by fellow lawmakers for bringing her child to the assembly session.

One of the MPAs went on to ask her to leave the house, bringing tears to her eyes.

Mahjabeen was booed by legislators when she brought her ailing baby to assembly

Ms Shereen is from Kech district and became a member of the Balochistan Assembly in 2018 on a reserved seat for women.

In an interview with BBC Urdu, she said that on Saturday her child was not feeling well and so she had no option but to take him along. “My child was not causing any disturbance but still they asked me to leave. For a working woman to focus on her work, it is essential that she has her child with her,” she said.

The MPA said that she had seen women politicians of other countries taking their children to parliament sessions so thought it would be the same in Pakistan. However, to her disappointment, Ms Shereen was informed that bringing children to the assembly was against the law.

“I went to the assembly secretary and asked for access to a spare room but he said the rooms were for ministers and could not be turned into daycare centres,” the MPA told BBC Urdu.

She regretted that no one stood up in support of her during the session. “For everything else we walk out, but no one, including women lawmakers, came out to support me,” she said.

Following the negative response from the provincial political circle, Ms Shereen said that she had decided to run a campaign to establish daycare facilities in assemblies as well as all government departments.

The MPA added that she had approached the chief minister in this regard and would also speak to other leaders. “I hope other lawmakers will support me in my cause,” she said.

Published in Dawn, May 17th, 2019