PAKISTAN: Awareness Stressed for Women's Participation in Electoral Process

Wednesday, July 10, 2013
The News
Southern Asia
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 

Speakers stressed on the need for education, awareness and training to enhance participation of women in the electoral politics. They were speaking at a conference titled ‘Enhancing the Role of Women for Participation in Electoral Process' organised by the UN Women in collaboration with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Tuesday.

They said that women politicians should get involved in the extensive social work and enhance their interaction with the community to polish their skills of general politics. Officials of Elections Commission of Pakistan, Economic Affairs Division, representatives of United Nations Organisations and a large number of civil society representatives attended the moot.

ECP officials shared that turn out for women voters was 44 per cent in May 11 elections and 11 female returning officers were appointed. “However, there were some 500 polling stations where women's turnout was zero,” Additional Secretary ECP Sher Afghan. The ECP officials ensured that the ECP would take measures to increase women participation in those areas in future.

Minster for Women Development, Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), Farzana Yaqoob said women should be educated and trained to create for playing an active role in political process. She suggested that in every union council, two to three women should be trained to convince women for participating in politics. “I am the first women from my constituency to contest general election and I won because I visited almost every home of the area”.

The minister said it is not only money on which any women can start political carrier, but the important thing is social mobilisation. “You should be with people in every sorrow and happiness to express feeling that you are among them and stand with them in their joys and sorrows,” she added.

Eminent poet, Kishwar Naheed, demanded law for declaring the results of constituencies null and void where women are not allowed to vote.

Member Election Commission, Justice (r) Shahzad Akbar highlighted the efforts of ECP in facilitating women political participation. He said that this time, women photographs on Computerised National Identity Cards (CNIC) were also declared mandatory and voter registration and verification campaign were done by sending teams door to door. He further added that for the first time polling station and constituency wise gender desegregated voter's turnout data will be made available by the ECP. He said that it was encouraging to see that around 456 women contested the elections.

Representative of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco), Dr. Kay Nagatta shared views on importance of cultural diversity in the electoral process. She highlighted the critical significance of diversity, social cohesion and inclusiveness to democratic and electoral process.

Earlier, Deputy Country Director UN-Women Pakistan, Sangeeta Thapa, in her welcome address shared that it is mandate of UN Women to support women's participation in electoral process and as a signatory to the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) Pakistan, it is also responsible to report this progress at international forums.