Pakistan hosted a three-day conference in which female lawmakers from 12 nations focused on the role of women within democracy. The theme for the conference was, “the role of women parliamentarians in strengthening democracy and social justice.” It included lawmakers from Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Jordan, Australia, Romania, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Indonesia, and Nepal.
The Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, had already highlighted the importance of women empowerment in the nation building process, as well as for the betterment of society as a whole. His daughter, Maryam Nawaz Sharif, who is hosting the event reiterated her father’s ideals by stating that women must help other women who must be pulled “out from the (sic) fear and poverty.” She also stated the growing role of women in the public sphere.
Pakistan has been one of the countries that has been paraded for its hostility towards women. For a government that has introduced stricter laws against domestic abuse and has commended female empowerment in the public sphere, it is also the same government who rejected the proposal for a seventeen percent female quota in the cabinet. It is also the same government who has not elected a single female from a minority group into its cabinet. Pakistan may be growing in its ideals to gain women’s rights and empowerment, but this lack of congruency from the government shows that it is still, like the rest of the world, is holding back in terms of equality.
Pakistan has continually struggled to have equal rights for the gender. For instance, acid attacks, domestic abuse, sexual assaults are all not new to Pakistan. The new government has been attempting to vie for equality, but this has been mostly motivated by their own personal interests as well. For a long time, Sharif has been attempting to grow a more laissez-faire and trade-friendly Pakistan, therefore, acknowledging a more female-friendly public sphere.
Security for the largest minority, women, is a necessity for the nation to feel safe and it is essential for the nation building process. To ensure complete democracy, we must allow for women to be a part of the democratic process. Safety, peace, and justice can only be accounted through representation from the oppressed, especially when they make up half of the entire global population. Conferences help our voices be heard: women getting together to support each other is a necessity, but action on from the government is what truly will allow both women and nations to progress.