Underrepresented women in Balochistan Assembly

By Sahil Reki

The revolutionary role of women in society and any walk of life cannot be denied given their important role in societal upbringing. For societal uptick for betterment, the women fulfill unending responsibilities ranging from caring for children to their share in nation-building process. In a patriarchal society like Balochistan, role of women in important sectors such as education and politics is equal to naught.

Geographically, Balochistan is the largest province of Pakistan, bestowed with natural resources and beauty. However, it lags behind all provinces in terms of education, health and politics in general but in terms of female participation in politics in particular. Ironically, all successive governments in Balochistan have not been keen to talk in terms of women participation in politics.

Women make 46% of total population but their representation remains only 20% in provincial government

Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan binds the state and provinces equally to ensure full participation of women in all spheres of national life. Due to lack of implementation of laws related to women participation in politics, women face a lot of hurdles in order to make pathways into politics.

According to of FAFEN (Free and Fair Election Network) annual report 2016-17, women make 46% of the total population in Balochistan but their representation on provincial level remains lower than 20%. Given this, the total number of women lawmakers, after general elections 2018, is 11 whereas there were 13 women lawmakers in previous provincial assembly of Balochistan. Surprisingly, in terms of representation, as per FAFEN data, one women lawmaker represents nearly 3,58292 women in the Assembly whereas each male law maker represents 105185 male.

The previous government of Balochistan passed 4 pro-women laws

The previous government of Balochistan passed 4 pro-women laws through legislation including, while 2 Bills has been referred to committees  ‘The Balochistan Protection and Promotion of Breastfeeding and infant Nutrition Bill, 2014’, and ‘The Balochistan Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Act, 2014’. The Law defines protective measures for women, children and other vulnerable segments of society against domestic violence. The Balochistan Harassment of Women at work place Act, 2016 protects women against harassment at work places.

Balochistan government passed pro-women bills but lack of implementation has deprived women of all facilities

The provincial Assembly has referred ‘Provincial Commission on Status of Women bill 2017’ and also The Balochistan Child Marriage Bill 2017 to standing committees for further recommendations.

social and women rights activist Sana Durrani

Sana Durrani, a social and women rights Activist told Balochistan Review that the government of Balochistan had passed different laws for the welfare of women in society. However, because of lack of implementation, has deprived women remained of all facilities.

“Such delayed implementation causes women to lag behind in education, availing job opportunities. There is not a single female member in Provincial Assembly’s cabinet or in any other committee in Balochistan. The Provincial Assembly has passed “The Balochistan Protection against Harassment of Women at work place Bill” on 21st January 2016 which still waits to be implemented. Government has not appointed ombudsmen to tackle such issues.  The women MPAs will file women Heritage bill in provincial assembly very soon,” Sana Durrani informed Balochistan Review.

Currently, there are 11 female law makers in Balochistan Assembly on special quota seats. Bushra Rind PBW-55, Dr. Rubaba Khan Buledi PBW-52, Mah Jabin Sheran PBW-54 and Laila Bibi PBW-53 belong to ruling Party, Balochistan Awami Party (BAP). Similarly, Bano PBW-56 and Zubeda PBW-57 belong to Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal(MMA), Shakeela Naveed Qazi PBW-59,  Zeenat Shahwani PBW-58, Bibi Shahina PBW-61 are MPAs belonging to Awami National Party (ANP) on Special Quota. Frida Bibi Rind PBW-60 belongs to Pakistan Tehreek Insaf (PTI), whereas Mastoora BibiPBW-62is candidate of Balochistan National Party (BNP Awami).

Shakeela Naveed Dehwar, Chairperson Women Parliamentary Caucus & MPA from BNP Mengal

Shakeela Naveed Dehwar, Chairperson Women Parliamentary Caucus and MPA belonging to BNP Mengal, is of the view that women make 51% of population but they are ignored in decision making process. She believes that male-dominated society does not accept women.“We have firm resolve to work for the betterment of women. I have called a meeting of parliamentary caucus in a week to discuss all bills approved by former cabinets about women. Early age Child bill and other legislation in Balochistan are in pending,”

“No one is allowed to snatch women rights in Balochistan. We will raise voice for women rights on Assembly and every floor,” Shakeela Naveed Dehwar told Balochistan Review.

Societal norms are creating more hurdles for women than male-dominated assembly of Balochistan

“It is need of time to train all women MPAs about legislation. The current Women Parliamentary Caucus has not given any fruitful results yet. It is their duty to work seriously and tackle hurdles of women in daily life, “said women rights activist Fatima Khan.

Yasmeen Lehri former member of Balochistan Assembly

Yasmeen Lehri, former MPA National Party, lamented that society was not accepting Women to appear on the Assembly floor. She believes that societal norms are creating more hurdles in the path of women than male-dominated assembly of Balochistan.

“For last 65 years, pro-women laws and other schemes have been approved by male MPAs. Women MPAs have often been ignored during schemes and budget approval.

Women are talented and they are working hard to prove their mettle. Women are getting jobs on merit in various departments. However,due to lack of access to education, women from rural areas remain deprived of basic rights,” she concluded.

Sana Durrani told Balochistan Review, “Women parliamentarians can play their prominent role to highlight issues on assembly floor. It is duty of woman MPA’s to work seriously and do their best for the welfare of women and girls. Especially women parliamentary caucus is a best platform for female to share their problems and struggle to resolve them. Women parliamentarians should work hard and ensure implementation on women rights laws in Balochistan. They should fulfill their duties in regard of pending bills and pass them from cabinet. The is not very far that our women will became on front, combine shoulders with man and work for the welfare of our society.”

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