Roundtable on “Gender Responsive Budgeting for Women’s Empowerment in Pakistan.

Islamabad; 11 June 2024; The Women’s Parliamentary Caucus of the National Assembly of Pakistan organized a Roundtable on “Gender Responsive Budgeting for Women’s Empowerment in Pakistan”, today at 10:30 am in Speaker’s Banquet Hall, Parliament House, Islamabad, in collaboration with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES).

The Roundtable was chaired by Dr. Shahida Rehmani, Former Secretary of the Women’s Parliamentary Caucus. The Roundtable was moderated by Constitutional Expert, Mr. Zafarullah Khan. Syed Shamoon Hashmi, Special Secretary National Assembly delivered the opening remarks which were followed by a brief by Ms. Rehmani on Gender Budgeting Strategy 2023. While a detailed presentation on the analysis of gender responsiveness of the federal budget 2023-24 was given by Ms. Rashida Dohad, Executive Director, Omar Asghar Foundation, the Roundtable concluded with a note of thanks by Mr. Felix Kolbitz, Country Head (FES).

The Roundtable witnessed participation from Hon. Parliamentarians, Officials from the UN, NGOs, civil society & the Public Sector.

The following issues were highlighted and deliberated upon; unpaid and undocumented labor of women, inadequate distribution of party tickets to women in General Elections, the lack of access of rural women to educational and medical facilities, insufficient budget appropriations for women, lack of women shelter homes and women crisis centers, prevalence of gender-bias against national and provincial women legislators and absence of women-employment quotas for higher management and executive designations in public and private sector.

A vibrant and interactive discussion ensued and resulted in the following suggestions and recommendations; to empower women by strengthening the local bodies for improved service delivery of health, education and justice to women, to create women facilitation centers at Police Stations across the country to ensure sustainable access to women, to initiate more social safety programs like BISP at national and provincial levels, to ensure implementation of legislation related to women empowerment, to further strengthen the provincial Standing Committees to enhance their efficacy, to introduce a 5% women quota in the management and executive posts related to industry sector, to introduce special women scholarships, to provide single parent’s relief in the form of compensations in income tax to single mothers, to increase the amount distributed through BISP to further enhance the purchasing power of women, to initiate ambulance service dedicated for rural women, to appropriate budget for conducting workshops and training sessions to encourage female entrepreneurship, to form Special Committee in the National Assembly dedicated to ensure smooth service-delivery of health to women and children, and most importantly to consider women legislators as responsible, knowledgeable and informed without any biases. It was also recommended that there should be more women’s educational institutes as many girls remain deprived of higher education due to the unavailability of universities.

Mr. Felix Kolbitz concluded the Roundtable and paid their gratitude to the Women Parliamentary Caucus (WPC), the Parliament, and the Honorable Parliamentarians for interactively engaging in a fruitful discussion by suggesting, deliberating, and recommending ways to make the upcoming budget more gender-responsive and gender-inclusive.

The following Hon. Parliamentarians participated in the roundtable; Ms. Mahtab Akbar Rashdi, Ms. Zahra Wadood Fatemi, Ms. Sharmila Sahiba Faruqui Hashaam, Ms. Asia Naz Tanoli, Ms. Saba Sadiq, Ms. Shagufta Jumani, Ms. Tahira Aurangzeb, Ms. Rubina Qaimkhani, Ms. Kiran Haider, Ms. Ayesha Nazir, Ms. Shazia Sobia, Ms. Shaista Khan, Akhtar Bibi among others. Ms. Aasia Ishaque Siddiqui, Ms. Mussarat Rafique Mahesar, Ms. Shazia Sobia Aslam Soomro, Ms. Ayesha Nazir, Ms. Sofia Saeed Shah, Ms. Rana Ansar, Ms. Nikhat Shakeel Khan, Ms. Sabheen Ghoury, Dr. Farooq Sattar, Mr. Mahesh Kumar Malani, among others.

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