At a day-long session held in connection with International Women’s Day, observed across the world on March 8, speakers stressed the participation of women in the upcoming local government elections.
“The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government has passed several laws since 2008, but the province is still far behind in having legislations for the development of women as compared to Sindh and Punjab,” Aurat Foundation representative Saima Muneer said while speaking at the event held at a local hotel on Monday.
She said only Balochistan has conducted local government polls so far whereas other provinces have yet to do so. “Ignoring the representation of women would have an adverse effect on the elections as they would be incomplete without female participation.”
Speaking about her own experience of being part of the local government body, former local councillor from Haripur, Dr Shaista said, “It was really difficult for me to join the body as my family was not approving of my participation in the elections, but I did not back out and was able to make it to the cabinet.”
She told the audience that although she has quit her job, she is committed to putting an end to discrimination against women and to resolve their issues, especially those pertaining to health and education. Although efforts are being made to bring women to the forefront, former councillor from Nowshera, Nigar Rauf said women are still deprived of the authority to make decisions. However, Rauf said she participated in the local government polls in 2001 and was looking forward to contesting the next one as well. Shafqat Rani of Swabi district said a system should be introduced that can bring changes in the lives of women and help them stand as representatives.
Participants of the event were also briefed about the process through which voters can register and verify their entries.
Regional election commissioner Pir Maqbool Shah said besides being qualified to play a role in the development of the nation, people should also have awareness to choose the right leader for good governance. “Just like education is a basic component for development in a society, voter knowledge is also important to sensitise people,” he added.
Shah informed the audience that the election commission has devised a strategic plan, goal number 13 of which was to educate people on voting. This is the reason why October 17 was marked as National Voters Day in 2012 and is still celebrated, he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 10th, 2015.