Leading women parliamentarians from India, Afghanistan, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka are engaging in a series of activities in Colombo and New Delhi designed to forge links between these political leaders and raise awareness on gender equality and the importance of women’s political and economic participation in their society from January 28 to February 2, 2016.
The first South Asian Women Parliamentarian Dialogue was conceptualized by four Canadian missions in South Asia to bring together prominent women leaders on a single platform to deliberate on gender equality, and the role of women in democracy, governance and international affairs. In India, the South Asian Women Parliamentarian Dialogue is being hosted by Women’s Feature Service, in partnership with the High Commission of Canada.
On February 1 and 2, in Delhi, delegates will interact with women rights organisations, think tanks, students and the media on topics ranging from the impact of education and skills in empowering women to the role of women in international affairs. The group will also visit India’s Parliament.
Participants in this dialogue include Meenakshi Lekhi – Member of Parliament – India (host country), Chandrani Bandara Jayasinghe – MP & Minister - Sri Lanka, Naheed Farid - Member of Parliament – Afghanistan, Chhaya Sharma (Pant) – Member of Parliament – Nepal, Maiza Hameed – Member of Parliament – Pakistan
Kathleen Wynne, Premier of the Canadian province of Ontario, will join the delegates for an interaction with students on the theme of Empowering Women through Skills and Economic Independence on February 1.
In Colombo on January 29-30, the delegates are touring the Sri Lanka Parliament, meeting with members of Parliament and government officials, participating in a day-long seminar on women’s political participation, and engaging with the media.
The protection and advancement of women’s rights is central to Canada’s domestic and foreign policy. Canada is committed to the view that gender equality is not only a human right but an essential component of sustainable development, social justice, peace and security. Increased women’s leadership in governance structures, the economy, and civil society is key to achieving gender equality.
According to a press release issued by Canadian High Commissioner, New Delhi, the initiative is particularly timely given recent developments in Canada, including gender parity in the Cabinet of newly-elected Prime Minister Trudeau; the growing number of women in the federal Parliament, and women’s political leadership at the provincial and municipal levels.