Islamabad:Women have been considered as a passive vote bank and political parties tend to use them mostly for representative functions at public gathering, meetings and campaigns.
This was stated by Chairperson National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW) Nilofar Bakhiar at a consultative meeting on women's effective participation in the political process organised by the Commission on Monday.
Representatives of various political parties, women's wing leaders and civil society as well as government officials attended the consultative meeting. While addressing the inaugural session, Chairperson Nilofar Bakhtiar said that although political parties have women wings, these tend to fulfil largely representative functions and have not influence the decision making process within political parties. "So structural discrimination in party organizations has influenced women’s representation when it comes to the contestation elections.
The noteworthy representation of women in legislative bodies is mainly due to the quota system as they are not elected directly by the people but rather are allocated their seats by the party apparatus which means they are not true representative of the socio- cultural class of the majority women of Pakistan." She said the NCSW is committed to ensure women's participation in the upcoming election effectively. "The Commission is taking all possible steps and this consultative meeting is part of our efforts to improve women's participation in the upcoming General Elections." She pointed out that although women have been given the right of vote but not the power in decision making, particularly in the political process.
Election Commission spokesperson Nighat Siddique said that this is an important time before the election when political parties should work with the Election Commission on the voter lists as it will not be possible to work on the voter list after the announcement of the general election. Nighat further said that due to the difficulties faced by women in Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, training officers were being trained keeping in view the cultural requirements so as to ensure maximum political participation of women.
Speaking on the occasion, NADRA's spokesperson Moazzama Yousaf said that NADRA is a resourceful institution and 90 % of the centres set up by it have female staff to facilitate female in registration process .She also added that NADRA and the Election Commission have jointly launched several campaigns for the registration of women and have so far registered 1.5 million women for the recent elections and are also campaigning for people with disabilities in which a large number of women with disabilities are being registered, she further informed. that 2,900 transgenders were registered with NADRA so far.
Addressing the meeting, women rights activist Farzana Bari said that NADRA has done a lot to close the gender gap of voters but they have to speed up the work otherwise it would take 25 years for 10 million women of voting age to register. She further said that according to the last census, the number of transgender people is 10,418 while NADRA has so far registered only 2,900. "It is imperative that the process of registration of women, transgender and persons with disabilities be expedited as soon as possible." UN Women Representative Hassan Hakeem said that women should be included in the political process as well as in important forums in democratic institutions such as parliamentary committees and other decisions making institutions. He stressed to ensure women participation in budget and other such decisions processes. In the last session, the participants of the consultative meeting gave their recommendations on effective participation of women in the electoral process.
They recommended political parties and civil society to connect with NADRA to register voters with special focus on women, women with disability and minorities. They said that ECP should take notice of less than ten per cent female voter turnout at the polling stations rather than at constituency level. They demanded an increase of 5% quota for women on general seats and said that ticket must be given to women on party’s winnable seats.
They demanded reserved seat for women in Islamabad and suggested that political party shall run election campaign for women candidates contesting elections on general seats. The Commission plans to take up these recommendations with the concerned stakeholders for consideration and implementation.
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