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National Policy Dialogue on Womens Political Participation

Nov 30, -0001

The National Commission on the Status of Women organized a National Policy Dialogue on the Political Participation of Women under PPO 2002 and LG System. Representatives from media, civil society, lawyers and women parliamentarians attended the event.
Participants of a national policy dialogue on political participation of women have called for 50 per cent representation of women in political parties at every level including general body, central executive committee and Parliamentary boards.
They said that the parties not having such representation should not be registered. The demand was made in a national policy dialogue titled “Political Participation of Women under PPO 2002 and in Local Government System”, organised by National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW). A large number of women political leaders, civil society members, legal experts and government officials participated in the dialogue.
Advisor to Prime Minister on Women Affairs Yasmeen Rehman was the chief guest on the occasion. The participants demanded ban on influencing the political process on religious basis, as has been done in Bangladesh and criticized Election Commission for having negligible representation of women within its ranks. They demanded 20 per cent women representation in ministers and advisor slots and said that women should be given expense to run election campaign.
Some participants were of the view that political parties should be made bound to give a certain percentage of strong seats to women in general elections and there should be constituencies reserved for women where only women candidates will be allowed to contest. They suggested that parties should be asked to form lists of women candidates that can fill any reserved seat that becomes vacant on resignation of any candidate.
They cited the case of PML-N MPA Shumaila Rana in this regard and informed the participants that her seat has never been filled after her resignation. The dialogue was part of the NCSWs effort to look deep into the issues concerning women empowerment.
Recently, the commission conducted two research studies on the impact of the local bodies system on women and the gender review of political framework of womens political participation. The man findings of the research findings were that all the political parties together with “Jirga” heads and representatives of other parallel legal systems keep women at bay from the political processes in the country.
To disseminate the research findings and as well as to take women parliamentarians and representatives of civil society onboard for the recommendations on how to enhance womens political participation, the NCSW organized four provincial dialogues in provincial capitals.
The national dialogue was the culmination of provincial dialogues and was also organized to share the recommendations with different stakeholders to enhance the spectrum of the policy review to make it more authentic. The dialogue started with a comprehensive review of the proposed recommendations presented by Dr Rukhshanda Naz.
The participants endorsed majority of the recommendations in totality whereas few suggestion regarding some additions also came up during the discussion. She said that the existing law declares the capturing of polling stations and polling agents that prevent voters from voting as crime, but it is silent on the use of various means employed to achieve the same goal such as life threats etc on loud speaker announcements, wall chalking and above all the political agreement among political parties or contesting candidates to hinder their women voters from voting. She recommended that the existing law should clearly consider the use of other means to harass women voters as a crime.
Advisor to Prime Minister on Women Affairs, Ms. Yasmeen Rehman, as chief guest on the occasion, said that women wings in the parties needed to be strengthened. She said that a meeting will soon be arranged with the Election Commission to resolve all the issues regarding electoral process. Ms. Yasmeen Rehman said that for political empowerment of women, it is vital to inculcate all these recommendation in the political process. She said that she will take these recommendations to the ECP in personal capacity. She said that the presence of large number of women in the National and Provincial Assemblies is the evidence of the success of womens movement in Pakistan. "In many other countries including India, the process of bringing women in the Parliament through reserved seats is still in the pipeline," she added. About provision of development funds, Ms. Yasmeen Rehman said no complaints was yet received from any of their party member while some MPAs from Punjab have complained that they were not provided development funds.

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