PESHAWAR: Salma Ataullah Jan, a Canadian senator of Pakistani origin, told a gathering of women legislators to be united irrespective of their political association as women welfare should be their joint agenda in the provincial assembly.

Hailing from a Pukhtun family of Mardan, Salma Ataullah Jan has been a member of the Canadian Senate for almost 10 years. She was invited to a women’s caucus meeting here on Monday arranged jointly by Commonwealth Women Parliamentarian, Women Parliamentary Caucus and Westminster Foundation for Democracy.

Women legislators mostly from the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf participated in the discussion with exclusion of few lawmakers.

Sharing her experience as senator, Ms Salma said that parliament was male-dominated in many countries and women being almost 50 per cent in Pakistan needed to be part of the parliament so that their voice could be heard too.

Canadian senator says more women should be part of parliament

She said that education of both male and female was important for the purpose as it brought change in society and resolved many problems.

She said that for women politics was not an easy field as they had to work harder. She said that women parliamentarians were under watch, especially of media, all the time.

Media would pick up trivial details about dress and hair of women parliamentarians but would not take them as seriously as men legislators, she added.

“Women parliamentarians need to stand with each other regardless of their political affiliations. It would give them strength,” said the Canadian senator.

She said that women were united irrespective of their political affiliations and criticism against one woman senator or parliamentarian was considered criticism against all women in Canada but in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa she could sense that there were differences among the women legislators.

National Assembly Joint Secretary Syed Shamoon Hashmi gave a detailed presentation on concept, legacy and way forward for women parliamentary caucus and said as to how in the part caucus had been active in legislation on women issues and successful in tabling bills and passing laws in the National Assembly.

Maleeha Asghar Khan, chairperson Women Parliamentary Caucus KP, said that the caucus members were learning a lot from trainings by different bodies.

She said that the caucus was working on pro-women legislation proposals in different areas.

Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2020

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