Speakers at the ‘Collective Action for Ensuring Women's and Girl's Participation in Electoral Processes in Pakistan' forum on Monday highlighted the need for women's and girl's participation in electoral processes as an important channel for ensuring that they maintain both voice and visibility, and are part of decision making processes which is essential for a strong democracy.
The forum was organised by the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Free and Fair Elections Network (FAFEN).
The event aimed at building political commitment and momentum for the participation of women and girls in elections, and to formulate recommendations to ensure their inclusion in the electoral process.
The forum was attended by participants from the National Database Registration Authority (NADRA), Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), national and international development and human rights organisations, members of parliament and provincial assemblies, academics, and media personnel.
Keynote speakers included NADRA Deputy Chairman Tariq Malik, Ministry of Human Rights Secretary Saeed Ahmad Alvi, Election Commission of Pakistan Director General Syed Sher Afghan Khan, FAFEN Chairperson Mussarat Qadeem, Bardasht Chairperson Nilofar Bakhtiar, MNA and member of Women's Parliamentary Caucus Bushra Gohar, United Nations Resident Coordinator Timo Pakkala, UN Women Country Director Alice Shackelford and United Nations Development Programme Country Director Toshihiro Tanaka.
All speakers recongnised the important role the ECP.
The ECP, in its five-year plan, hopes to formulate laws that ensure that marginalised groups such as poor women, minorities and people with disabilities are able to participate in the political and electoral process.
Civil society, international and national organisations were encouraged to support the government's efforts in this noble cause.
The forum presented a draft resolution recommending specific steps to be taken by policymakers in order to increase women's participation and representation in the electoral process at all levels.
These include earmarking at least 10 percent of party tickets to women, 33 percent representation of women in parliamentary boards, expediting the process of registering all women, issuing them CNICs and making them part of the electoral roles, improved facilities for women voters at the polling station, dismissing those polls which do not accept women votes and implementation of reforms of the ECP's five-year plan.