Pakistan needs to review its policies when it comes to the participation of women and minorities along political lines, agreed parliamentarians and members of the civil society at a consultative forum, titled 'Realising Civil and Political Rights of Women, Minorities and Youth' on Tuesday.
Both the groups were better off in terms of representation in political and public spaces in the past, said a press release. The joint consultation was organised by Democracy Reporting International and the Sindh Women's Parliamentary Caucus.
Dr Sono Mal Khangarani, a Dalit rights activist, lamented that 90 per cent of the Dalit community remains underrepresented in politics. "There is a need to expand the definition of minorities and should include groups such as Dalits, who are often ignored," he said.
Read: Minorities’ affairs: Minister meets Holy See envoy
Rights of Expression, Assembly, Association and Thought (REAT) Network chairperson Krishan Sharma emphasised that international human rights treaties should be implemented properly, which also includes the political participation of all citizens.
Women's rights activist Amar Sindhu said that since politics controls and sustains power relations, it is necessary to empower women politically. "It is essential to the realisation of gender equality," she said.
Participants in the forum shed light on the protection of civil and political rights of minorities, youth and women as guaranteed in the Constitution of Pakistan. They also stressed that transparency should be enhanced especially in the nomination of women and minorities on reserved seats. The speakers also demanded that the prevailing system for allocation of reserved seats be reviewed and that candidates be directly elected for better participation.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 14th, 2015.