Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians on Tuesday elected a new chairperson at the ongoing Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference in Munyonyo.
Pakistani National Assembly member, Shandana Gulzar Khan emerged victorious after the poll, that earlier experienced disagreements over the absence of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Secretary General, Mr. Akbar Khan.
Gulzar Khan polled 48 votes against her competitor, Tara Rivers, Member of the Legislative Assembly of Cayman Islands who managed 38 votes.
Gulzar Khan told fellow female legislators during a heated campaign moment that she will continue working with CWP in promoting trade and development in the Commonwealth member states.
“I looked at the Strategic Plan’s six pillars and agree with the establishment of women caucuses. Part of what we want to do is to ensure cohesion. Unless we have cohesion, within the CWP I don’t see women’s economic growth going very far,” she said.
Shandana is a qualified legal professional with extensive knowledge and experience in international trade and economic law advocacy. She was the first female negotiator to the World Trade Organisation, with 22 years of experience in trade and economic development.
She narrated her background, coming from an ultraconservative nation where girls are not expected to study in some religious dominated parts.
“I want to show off a little bit and I am proud to say that I was the first girl to go to school in my village. Thanks to my father, he put his foot down and made sure I went to school and now all every girl in my village who can afford goes to school,” added Gulzar Khan.
Gulzar Khan noted that involvement of men is imperative in the achieving of women economic empowerment.
“Women come first, but unless we work with all pillars of society at least from my part of society, it doesn’t work,” Gulzar Khan said.
Gulzar Khan who will serve a three-year term, (2019-2022) applauded her predecessor Dr. Dato’ Noraini Ahmad who is the MP for the Federal Parliament of Malaysia. Noriani was elected during the 62nd CPC in 2016, in London.
The previous CWP Chairpersons include; Rebecca Kadaga (Uganda), Alix Boyd Knights (Dominica) and Kashmala Tariq (Pakistan), as well as Lindiwe Maseka (South Africa).