ISLAMABAD: A three-day women’s football tournament was organised to celebrate women’s leadership and participation in public life. The event was also aimed at raising awareness among the youth about the importance of women’s right to vote. The tournament concluded in Islamabad on Saturday.
The event ‘Play to Vote’ was a collaboration between Oxfam in Pakistan, Election Commission of Pakistan, Rising Stars and Bedari. Over three days women football teams from Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar and Rawalpindi played six matches which attracted a large female audience from the twin-cities.
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Speaking at the closing ceremony, Oxfam Country Director Mohammed Qazilbash said Oxfam’s She Can Lead project has been designed to be a part of the lead up to the pre-election context and enhance women’s political participation.
“As the second civilian to civilian transfer of power in Pakistan’s history, the 2018 election is an important moment in Pakistan’s democratic journey and through our efforts we hope to ensure Pakistani women play a meaningful role in it,” he said.
Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Additional Director General Nighat Siddique discussed the measures being taken by the ECP to ensure women participate fully in the electoral process. She said, “The ECP is working hard to improve women voters’ turnout in the upcoming elections. The ECP has taken steps to ensure more women register to vote this year and we are expecting a positive outcome.”
Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) Team Leader Rukhsana Shama said her organisation is working to support women’s participation in public life and both sports and politics are areas where women’s role should be encouraged. “Women’s rights are human rights and all of us, have to ensure that we adhere to our constitutional commitments and work together towards elimination of all forms of discrimination against women, minorities, transgendered Pakistanis and specially-abled persons.”
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Pakistan Institute of Parliamentary Services (PIPS) Director Zafarullah Khan said, “Sports teach us how to play by the rules and not to turn spirited competition into lingering animosity. Through sports such as football and meaningful participation in politics we can create cohesive communities, where women play an equal role”.
Pakistan Women Team Captain Hajra Khan expressed hope that when more women are in parliament, more women will also be seen in the field of sports. “When women are in positions of power, others will be encouraged to participate in all areas of public life”.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 13th, 2018.
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