Friday August 19, 2022

Rural Women Conference ends on pledge to enhance women’s political resilience

October 16, 2021

Islamabad : Shift in women’s political role promises their economic freedom, said speakers at the concluding policy session of the 14th Annual Rural Women Conference on Friday.

The three-day conference, organised by Potohar Organisation for Development Advocacy (PODA), concluded at Lok Virsa on a resolution passed by the rural women who were representing 109 district of the country. The session was focused on, ‘Importance of Rural Women in Electoral Leadership: Achieving an Equal Future in Democracy during and post COVID-19 World.’ The focus of the policy session was on ‘Importance of Rural Women in Electoral Leadership: Achieving an Equal Future in Democracy During and Post COVID-19 World.’

The conference is organised every year to celebrate International Rural Women Day that is being observed every year on October 15. The conference participants urged the government to ensure women’s equal participation who are vastly underrepresented in local and national assemblies.

Tariq Malik, chairman of National Data Base and Registration (NADRA) identified that there was an inherent unofficial bias of the implementers in the system to compel married women to adopt their husband’s names after marriage.

“There is no such binding in the law that requires women to adopt a certain name. It is up to women to adopt their maiden names or change their names after marriage. We are all set to remove this algorithmic gender bias,” he added. The chairperson also lauded efforts of Qamar Bano who supported NADRA to register 5000 Hindu women in Jacobabad, Sindh. He also informed the audience that they have also taken measures to register minorities comprised of Hindus, Jews, Christian, Sikh, and Dalits.

“ID card is just not mere a plastic card, it protects not only human rights of women, but also empowers them to be beneficial from the governments’ policies and steps. After my joining, within 100 days we have reduced the existing registration gap between women and men from 14 to 10 per cent,” Tariq Mailk added.

Luke Myers, head of Aid, Canada High Commission in Pakistan stressed on the point to avoid token representation and participation of women and urged the guests to replace it with genuine commitment to resolve their issue with pragmatic gender-sensitive policies. “The upcoming local governments’ elections provide women an opportunity to women to take active role both as candidates and voters to have a strong voice and agency in shaping their communities with concrete and substantive actions,” he added.

Luke Myres was of the view that to deal with the impacts of climate change, which is affecting rural women in particular, it is best to strengthen economic resilience of women.

PODA-Pakistan has dedicated the conference to a rural woman leader Naziran Jamali from Naseerabad, Balochistan who has died recently. Her daughter, Amna Jamali was honoured during the concluding ceremony. Amna Jamali urged the chairperson NADRA to extend facilities and services to women of Balochistan who are deprived of their basic rights.

Representative United Nations Development, Program (UNDP), Darren said that it is the foremost duty of all to get registered with NADRA for participating in electoral processes. Fauzia Tariq, senior gender adviser, International Foundation of Electoral Systems-IFES moderated the session.

“Political process without women’s equal participation is incomplete,” said Zafar Iqbal Special Secretary Election Commission of Pakistan. “If half of the population is not participating in the political process actively, it raises questions on the credibility of the process. ECP is committed to ensure women’s political rights under the article 25 of the constitution of Pakistan,” Zafar Iqbal opined.

Abdul Hafiz, Director Local Government, Election Commission of Pakistan also elaborated details of amendments in laws of local government system in Punjab. He told that in recently held cantonment elections out of 1,559 contestants, there were only 19 women. Only two women won election. However, later one was disqualified, he informed.