Wednesday May 18, 2022

33pc women’s seats in LG demanded

January 23, 2022

LAHORE : Women at a consultation on their political participation have demanded an increase in seats of women in Local Government (LG (to at least 33 per cent.

The consultation attended by National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW) chairperson and team, MPAs from all major political parties, women councillors, civil society activists and journalists recommended 33pc representation of women not only in local government but in all commissions.

They said any consultation without women was not acceptable. “We want all the powers for NCSW Chair,” was another recommendation.

They also demanded an increase in seats of special persons, transgenders and minorities.

Without women’s participation in local government, change and improvement is not possible, said Nilofar Bakhtiar, NCSW chairperson and urged women parliamentarians to form a caucus in Punjab Assembly for better coordination and output.

There is need to bring women parliamentarians in decision making, she said and asked them to speak out for appointment of Punjab Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW) chair at the earliest.

The consultation on ‘Punjab Local Government Ordinance 2021 and women’s political participation, challenges, opportunities and way forward’ was held here on Saturday in a local hotel in collaboration with National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW), Jazba Foundation, South Asia Partnership Pakistan and Global Affairs Canada.

There is a need to simplify the elections. At present women find it quite difficult to apply for local government elections. There was a suggestion to ensure all political parties give five percent seats to women. Farzana Bari who heads FAFEN (Free and Fair Election Network) stressed on ensuring 33 per cent seats of women on all tiers.

Her reading is that women will not get more than 14-16 per cent seats. She said, “We can take a stance that if chairperson is male, vice-chair should be a woman. In every 3rd constituency a vice chair or chair should be a woman.

The panel of political parties should ensure that,” she suggested.

“MPAs will have to come together and approach the speaker for women caucus,” said Faiza Malik, a PPP MPA. “You are listened to when you are in a better position politically. There should be two women if there are five seats,” said Kanwal Liaquat, a PML-N MPA.

Uzma Kardar, PTI MPA, demanded the government consider paying salary to councillors as they do in London. Sadia Sohail, PTI MPA, emphasised training of women in politics so that they play an effective role. Shamsa Ali, PTI MPA, said political workers of political parties must get seats in Local Government.

Others who spoke were Neelam Hayat, PTI MPA, Humaira of PTI, Shamim Aftab, MPA and Samina Saeed, JI MPA, from Sargodha among others.

Local Government expert Zahid Islam said PLGO 2021 (Punjab Local Govt Ordinance) is with the standing committee. The Act will be there in 10 days, he said and informed delimitations will be announced by March 22 and the Local Government elections will be held on May 15.

“The Local Government in Lahore has as many authorities as London Local Government,” he said which can be downloaded from internet. General seats will be allocated according to votes. For the first time there are reserved seats for traders and special people, he said.

With the effort of Zahid Islam and his associates, the Punjab University Political Science Department has launched a one-year diploma on Local Government and 42 students have enrolled in this course which is no mean feat. After two years the Punjab University plans to start a degree in Local Government Studies.