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June 19, 2021

Govt urged to take steps for protecting electoral rights of vulnerable

 
June 19, 2021

Islamabad :Coalition for Inclusive Pakistan (CIP) has stressed upon the federal and provincial governments and legislatures to take effective measures to protect the political and electoral rights of the vulnerable groups including women, persons with disabilities (PWDs), and transgender persons.

CIP -- a coalition of 170 Pakistani organisations working for the rights of women, PWDs, and transgender persons -- put forward the recommendations for inclusive electoral reforms here at a press conference on Friday. These recommendations were aimed at enhancing the electoral and political participation of women, PWDs and transgender persons.

They were prepared in light of the Elections Act, 2017 and direct observation of GE-2018 by groups of women, PWDs, and transgender persons in federal and provincial capitals.

In the presser, the CIP representatives shared the details of these recommendations. For enhanced women’s political and electoral participation, CIP demanded to launch voter education campaigns in the areas where female voter turnout remained low during General Election 2018.

Moreover, CIP urged the Parliament to reform the method of the election on seats reserved for women and non-Muslims in National and Provincial Assemblies to ensure equitable regional representation. Currently, most of the legislators elected on these seats represent only provincial capitals or a few major cities.

CIP also recommended binding political parties through amendments in the Elections Act 2017 to ensure 33 percent of women’s representation in organizational structures of political parties at all levels. CIP also demanded to increase the minimum limit for women representation in candidates for general seats of National and Provincial Assemblies from five percent to at least 10 percent.

For PWDs’ political and electoral participation, CIP demanded the reservation of seats for them in legislatures. Moreover, it recommended the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to ensure that all polling facilities are accessible for PWDs. CIP also urged the political parties to establish wings for PWDs and transgender persons on the pattern of women wings.

To improve transgender persons’ political and electoral participation, CIP demanded the implementation of the Supreme Court’s ruling regarding the registration of transgender persons in letter and spirit.

In this regard, CIP members called for constituting district committees to facilitate transgender persons acquiring NICs. CIP also urged ECP to separately provide the number of transgender voters in the country and to include transwomen (trans feminine) in female voter lists and transmen (trans masculine) in male voter lists.

CIP also recommended ECP to include the prefix of Mx. in the election forms along with Mr./Mrs./Ms. for transgender persons.

CIP representatives also highlighted the difficulties being faced by PWDs in getting NICs and demanded to introduce one-window operation for their smooth registration. In addition, CIP stressed upon reducing the nomination fee for candidates to enable marginalized communities – who are also economically less-resourced in most cases – to take part in elections as candidates. It further recommended declaring the act of harassing women or transgender persons as a cognizable offense under section 509 of the Pakistan Penal Code.