In a May session of the Balochistan provincial assembly, Balochistan Awami Party MPA Mahjabeen Shireen was criticised by fellow lawmakers and asked to leave the assembly session. Her crime was bringing her young child along with her to the session, which according to the other lawmakers, went against the assembly decorum. Ms Shireen cited women politicians of other countries taking their children to parliament sessions so she thought it would be the same in Pakistan, yet still, she was criticised and told it was against the law and was made to leave.

One month later, due to Mahjabeen Shireen’s efforts to lead a campaign for the government to accommodate women parliamentarians with children, the Balochistan government has decided to set up a day-care centre on the premises of the legislature. Women parliamentarians can attend the assembly sessions with ease with their children nearby in the day-care facility

This was a good outcome that came out of an offensive incident. It is appalling that despite certain provincial laws that mandate workplaces to accommodate mothers, our provincial assemblies themselves do not provide for day-care centres inside their buildings. Our political sphere can only improve if it is inclusive and encourages participation of young people and particularly women into the legislature; yet if our government facilities do not accommodate young parents, it will lead to lack of representation of an enormous segment of our society. Moreover, the rules and customs of the government have a spillover effect on private employers as well. If the government does accommodate female parliamentarians, then it is unlikely that other employers will strive to make the workplace more inclusive and welcoming to women. The Balochistan assembly should be commended for this inclusive step and it is hoped that the other assemblies will follow its example.