Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Pakistani Female Members of Parliament Visit WPI

Five current members of the Pakistan Parliament visited American University and the School of Public Affairs Monday for a discussion of women in politics with Julia Piscitelli, Assistant Director of the Women & Politics Institute. The women, who are members of various political parties in Pakistan, are visiting the United States for an International Visitor Leadership Program coordinated by the US Dept. of State.

The intimate conference focused on the social parallels but structural differences of Pakistani and American politics. The diminished representation of women in politics is comparable in both countries. The group animatedly discussed many aspects of American politics, including the 2008 presidential campaign, the importance of the media (particularly television) in elections, and how to fundraise effectively. The women also spoke about the journeys and tribulations of various women leaders (including Secretary of State Clinton, suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Pakistan’s own late Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who was the first woman elected to lead a Muslim state.)

It was incredible to have the opportunity to interact with female political leaders from a different culture. Julia, myself, and fellow intern Katerina all left the conference excited about the new bonds we forged. We hope that this experience left the Pakistani politicians with the same feelings of enthusiasm and look forward to corresponding with them in the future.