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‘Women in Elections 2018’ report launched

By Myra Imran
December 14, 2018

Islamabad: The National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW) has recommended the Parliament to amend Political Parties Act to enhance women’s participation in political party decision making by increasing their representation up to 33 per cent in all decision making bodies such as central and provincial executive committees parliamentary bodies budget and manifesto committee etc.

The recommendation made part of the NCSW’s women focused General Elections 2018 Report titles “Women in Elections 2018” prepared with the funding support of Heinrich Boll Stifting. The report that compiles and analyses the pre and during poll observations of 90 observers from NCSW in General Elections 2018 was launched on Thursday in collaboration with Democracy Reporting International (DRI).

While presenting the key findings, eminent activist and researcher of the report Naheed Aziz said that the report raises concerns about the implementation of certain new provisions of the Elections Act 2017 such as postal ballot facility, the mandatory 5 per cent general seat tickets for women, the raised fee for filing the nomination papers by the candidates etc.

The report also points out that many polling station venues were found to be inadequate, inappropriately set up in small humid congested rooms without fans proper ventilation or drinking water. There was no seating available for elderly or pregnant women.

Regarding general seats for women, she said that in majority of cases women were given tickets on unwinnable seats and there was not support or training extended towards them by the political parties. She said that six political parties didn’t allocate required 5 per cent tickets to women candidates. She said that photographs of women candidates were missing from election campaigns. “Majority of women candidates were silent and unseen” she added.

Naheed said that though the number of women who were able to win elections on general seats decreased as compared to General Elections in 2008 and 2013, the number of women contestants in Election 2018 increased. Among 464 women candidates constituting 5.2 per cent of the total contestants, 289 had been awarded tickets by political parties while 175 women contested as independents. There were 5 transgender contestants while male candidates accounted for over 94 per cent of the total. Only seven women were included in the 157 non-Muslim candidates nominated by the parties for the various assemblies.

She termed the Election 2018 peaceful and well organized overall and praised steps taken by Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) such as increased voters registration, ECP’s proactive follow up with local administration, women commissions and civil society organizations, the fact that women turn out exceeded the men turn out in certain polling stations, etc.

The report suggests more effective voter’s education for women besides training, facilitation and funding for women contestants in order to prepare them for elections. It urges ECP to release gender disaggregated data results, to take remedial action for fool proof RTS system, to improve number of women staff within ECP, to prepare reinforced voter education information and facilitation plans and strengthen staff training for future elections.