Islamabad: A three-day women’s football tournament organised to celebrate women’s leadership and participation in public life and to raise awareness about the importance of the right to vote among youth concluded here on Saturday.
The event, ‘Play to Vote,’ was a collaboration between Oxfam in Pakistan, Election Commission of Pakistan, Rising Stars and Bedari. Over the three days,women football teams from Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar and Rawalpindi played six matches which attracted a large number of women and girls from the twin cities.
Speaking at the closing ceremony, Oxfam Country Director Mohammed Qazilbash said Oxfam’s ‘She Can Lead’ project has been designed to work in the lead up to the pre-election context and enhance women’s political participation. “As the second civilian to civilian transfer of power in Pakistan’s history, the 2018 election is an important moment in Pakistan’s democratic journey and through our efforts, we hope to ensure Pakistani women play a meaningful role in it,” he said.
The ECP’s Additional Director General Nighat Siddique discussed the measures being taken by the ECP to ensure women participate fully in the electoral process. She said, “ECP is working hard to improve women voters’ turnout in the upcoming elections. It has taken steps to increase the number of women registered as voters and we are positive that greater numbers of Pakistani women will be voting this year.”
The Team Leader of Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) Rukhsana Shama said, her organisation is working to support women’s participation in public life and both sports and politics are areas where women’s role should be encouraged. “Women rights are human rights and all of us, including me, have to ensure that we adhere to our constitutional commitments and work together towards elimination of all forms of discrimination against women, minorities, transgender Pakistanis and differently-abled persons.”
The Director of the Pakistan Institute of Parliamentary Services Zafarullah Khan said, “Sports teach us how to play by the rules and not to turn spirited competition into lingering animosity. Through sports such as football and meaningful participation in politics we can create cohesive communities, where women play an equal role.”
Pakistan Women Team Captain Hajera Khan hoped that when more women are in Parliament, more women would also be seen in sports fields. “When women are in positions of power, others will be encouraged to participate in all areas of public life.”