Equal representation for women, minorities urged

MPs, civil society push for reforms ahead 2018 elections

Our Correspondent March 15, 2016

ISLAMABAD: Parliamentarians and civil society have stressed the need for reforms based on international conventions ratified by Pakistan ahead of the 2018 general elections to ensure political participation of women, minorities and youth.

Discussants were speaking on the second day of the ‘National Conference on Political Participation of Women, Minorities and Youth’.

Deputy Speaker Sindh Assembly Syeda Shehla Raza said that participation does not merely mean to increase the number of seats in assemblies, but to empower women to vote for her own choice instead of following the dictations of male family members.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf MPA Dr Nosheen Saeed said an example of a patriarchal mindset was reflected in male MPAs’ opposition to the Women Protection Bill from the Punjab Assembly.

Aabia Akram, an activist for people with special needs, called upon legislators to formulate rules and regulations that would facilitate such citizens to become part of the political process.

Senator Rubina Khalid of the PPP from K-P called upon authorities to bring in women when it comes to decision making in FATA, as women and children in the region are the most vulnerable.

Minorities’ rights activists Romana Bashir and Haroon Sarab Dayal stressed upon the need for equal treatment of minorities, as they are citizens and need not be classified as a ‘minority’.

Speakers of the conference, including Sabeeha Shaheen and MPA Sardar Vakas Mokal demanded lifting a ban on student unions in order to improve political participation of the youth. They also demanded more seats for youth in local government.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 16th, 2016.

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