3rd July, 2017, Novosibirsk: At the invitation of the Governor of Novosibirsk and the Ministry of the Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, President Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies (CPGS), Senator Sehar Kamran (TI) participated in and addressed the First two day International Women’s Congress of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the BRICS Member States titled “The Role of Women in The Modern Society: Cooperation In The Political, Economic, Scientific, Educational and Cultural Spheres” held in the Novosibirsk Region, Russia. She addressed the Congress on the topic of “Regionalism and a Common Destiny: Role of Women in Peace, Prosperity and Stability”.

During her remarks, Senator Sehar Kamran emphasized on the importance of the SCO and stated the unique regional bloc offers alternate mechanisms for cooperation and has the potential to bring this resource-rich area together like never before. She said SCO is the only bloc which counts amongst its members, four nuclear powers located in the same region. She stated that geographically, its member states span across about 70% of Eurasia, host 43% of the global population which shares about 24% of the global GDP.

Senator Kamran said for Pakistan, entry into the SCO is an auspicious moment and the fruit of a labor of efforts spanning a decade. She said amongst the many positives that Pakistan brings to SCO, the foremost is connectivity; as the country lies at the tri‐junction of South Asia, West Asia, and Central Asia, and will act as the ‘zipper’ bringing the region together, both physically and economically.

On the vital role of women in establishing peace, prosperity and stability in Pakistan, Senator Sehar Kamran paid tribute to the mother of the nation – Fatima Jinnah and shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. She said Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto– the first ever – twice elected – female prime minister of Pakistan and my leader and mentor fought against one of the most brutal dictators in the history of Pakistan. She led a great campaign in which she was joined by millions calling for the restoration of democracy and a return to democratic norms at a time when criticism against the sitting regime was met with public flagging but she galvanized her followers’ hearts and souls, challenged extremism and terrorism by promoting strategies for peace, and emerged victorious, she added.

Senator Sehar Kamran said that she has always believed that women can play a frontline role in the pursuit of peace, prosperity and stability and by working together, the women of SCO and BRICS can contribute enormously in improving the lives of women in the region as well as the world at large. She said better representation in decision-making processes, especially in institutions like Parliamentary Assemblies and other such legislative bodies such as National Parliaments are vital symbols of, and provide critical forums for, leadership and safeguarding of the rule of law and human rights. She stated that these legislative roles provide women parliamentarians with an important platform to influence social change and contribute to peace, security and development

Senator Sehar Kamran availed the platform of the First Women’s Congress and suggested putting together a similar forum titled “Women for Peace”, with members from amongst the most eminent women of this region who have played a significant role in promoting peace and prosperity in the region, and can tackle our differences from a different and perhaps a more effective perspective.

In conclusion, Senator Kamran said she truly believes that SCO provides a wonderful platform and if we work collectively we can achieve our common destiny. She said the success of this regional organization lies in the unity and cooperation of its member states, and economic prosperity lies at the heart of regional connectivity. Initiatives like the New Silk Road and the China Pakistan Economic Corridor are a move towards this, and are expected to open a plethora of opportunities for economic development and greater interconnectivity. Let us ensure that tolerance and peace remain the foundation-stones upon which our common destinies will be built by all SCO members, she added.

This two day Congress will become an important regional contribution to the strengthening of the international movement in support of women’s rights and the development of values supported by the 23d special session of the United Nations General Assembly devoted to the role of women in the world development in the 21st century.

Honorable Governor of Novosibirsk Region, Mr Vladimir Gorodetsky, Her Excellency, Madam Valentina Ivanovna Matviyenko, Chairperson of the Council of Federation, Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, Zhao Hongju, Deputy DG, Liaison Department of All-China Women’s Federation and Nomasonto Maria Sikandar-Thusi, Ambassador of South Africa to Russia were among the participants of the International Women’s Congress.

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