Published:  12:29 AM, 10 February 2019

The role women MPs should play

The ruling Awami League has named the individuals who will represent it in the Jatiya Sangsad as part of the reserved seat structure for women in parliament. The party has exercised its right to choose the persons who it thinks are suitable for the seats and naturally will expect them to play a constructive role in the House.

It will certainly be the expectation of the nation that the lawmakers selected for the reserved seats in Parliament, despite the fact that they are not chosen by popular vote, will nevertheless play a role that shows them to be fully engaged in the business of overseeing the diverse affairs of state. In the past, there was much criticism, a good deal of it justified, about the essentially non-participation of MPs in reserved seats in parliamentary debate.

Moreover, there has been the general perception that their non-elected nature does not give such lawmakers the clout which elected MPs enjoy. That is wrong, for all the women who have occupied and will occupy the reserved seats hold positions ordained by the Constitution. To underrate them or to deny them the importance their position entitles them to would thus be wrong.

The new crop of women lawmakers as announced by the Awami League should be a bold new addition to the JS. We as citizens will expect them to keep themselves in touch with national and global issues. In other words, through doing their homework and through putting their understanding of national and international issues to good use in parliamentary deliberations, they will do justice to the positions they now formally hold in national politics.

Just as we expect all our elected lawmakers to inject vigour and substance and intellectual richness to the Jatiya Sangsad over the next five years, so will we tell ourselves that our women MPs in the reserved seats will bring their knowledge and wisdom to bear on the deliberations of the House.We wish them well as we wait for Parliament to serve as a vibrant and meaningful voice for the nation between now and the next election.

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