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15 May 2012
A delegation of eight women members from the Parliaments of Afghanistan and Pakistan will visit the UK this week to discuss women’s participation in politics, gender diversity and forced marriage, in the first trilateral parliamentary programme of its kind. Whilst in the UK, they will meet with the Home Secretary, Rt Hon. Theresa May MP, and conduct a series of meetings with MPs, Peers, civil society representatives and government officials.
The four-day programme will be run by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association UK Branch in collaboration with the Parliaments of the UK, Pakistan and Afghanistan. It will cover a broad range of subjects, including approaches to legislating against early and forced marriage, enabling economic empowerment, the option of gender quotas, and women’s role in peacebuilding and conflict prevention.
Speaking ahead of the delegation, Mrs May said ‘Our government is making strides in promoting the role of women in business, politics and wider society. I look forward to sharing our vision with the representatives from Afghanistan and Pakistan and learning more about the challenges they face at home.’
During the week, the delegates will visit the Forced Marriage Unit, a joint initiative between the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Home Office. They will also take part in a session with representatives of Girls Not Brides, a global partnership of over 100 organisations working to end child marriage worldwide.
Whilst in the UK, the delegation will meet with Rt Hon. Harriet Harman QC MP, Shadow Deputy Prime Minister; the Lord Speaker, Rt Hon. The Baroness D’Souza CMG; Baroness Prosser OBE, Deputy Chair of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission; and the former Lord Speaker, Rt Hon. Baroness Hayman. They will also spend half a day shadowing MPs in constituencies.
The group will be made up of Hon. Dr Nafisa Shah MNA, Hon. Dr Donya Aziz MNA, Hon. Aasiya Nasir MNA and Senator Rubina Khalid from the Parliament of Pakistan, and Hon. Bibi Hameda Yousafi, Hon. Fawzia Raoufi, Hon. Zakia Sangeen and Hon. Dr Nilofar Ebrahimi from the Parliament of Afghanistan.
The visit of this delegation forms part of a long-term collaboration with the Parliament of Pakistan.
The trilateral programme is a result of ongoing dialogue with the leader of the Pakistan delegation, Hon. Dr Shah, who as well as being a member of the Women’s Parliamentary Caucus in the Parliament of Pakistan is Vice Chairperson of the international Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. Delegates will produce a report on completion of the course, and other anticipated outcomes include further multilateral work in-country on women’s participation and wider political issues.