Pakistani Parliament Elects First Woman Speaker

Dr Fehmida Mirza made history this week as the first woman to be elected Speaker of Pakistan”s General Assembly. Dr. Mirza defeated her opponent, Sardar Israr Tareen of the previously ruling Pakistan Muslim League party, with a vote of 249-70. She is a member of assassinated Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto”s Pakistan People”s Party (PPP).

“Being a woman, it gives me immense pride and happiness to see you on that chair,” Saima Akhtar Bharwana, another lawmaker from the PPP, said after Mirza was sworn in, according to the Associated Press.

Mirza, a businesswoman and physician, has been elected to the parliament three times. She is also one of the few women who has been elected in a general seat, rather than one of the twenty percent of seats set aside for women lawmakers, reports the UK Times Online. Kiani was still stoned to death on July 5, 2007. Ebrahimi’s death was stayed due to the public outcry, and last week the Iranian judiciary amnesty commission released her from prison.

“I am honoured and humbled,” said Dr. Mirza, according to the Times Online. “This chair carries a big responsibility. I am feeling that responsibility today and will, God willing, come up to expectations.”


Associated Press 3/19/08; UK Times Online 3/20/08; Pakistan Daily Times 3/20/08

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