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Indian Muslim Woman To Head Lawmaker Group

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    Indian Muslim Woman To Head Lawmaker Group

    Indian Woman To Head Lawmaker Group

    BERLIN (AP) - A legislator from India will become the first woman to head the Inter-Parliamentary Union, an organization that brings together lawmakers from around the world.

    The group announced Friday that Najma Heptulla would be formally elected president of the union on Saturday at the end a weeklong conference in Berlin.

    Long active in Indian and international politics, she now serves as the deputy head of the upper house of India's parliament.

    At a news conference, Heptulla pledged to advance the role of women legislators worldwide, saying female legislators should be viewed ``not as women, but as equal partners and actors in democracy.''

    The role of women in government was among top items on the agenda of the union's 102nd conference, which drew more than 700 parliamentarians from 131 countries.

    A report issued during the gathering said little progress had been made in the four years since a landmark U.N. conference in Beijing promised a better atmosphere for increasing women's role in governments. Women hold 13 percent of the seats in the 179 parliaments worldwide.

    The report's authors blamed the low figure on ``the survival everywhere of traditional prejudices and stereotypes regarding the putative rules of men and women in the family and public life.''