Protection of social, political rights of women necessary to envision democracy: CPDI

Karachi, Wednesday 07 March 2018 (PR): On the occasion of international day for women, Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) has termed protection of social and political rights of women necessary to envision democratic, peaceful, inclusive and gender-equitable political system in Pakistan.

International day for women is being celebrated all around the world to acknowledge women’s achievements throughout history and across nations. CPDI, a civil society organization, that promotes women participation and all inclusive electoral processes in Pakistan, on the same day has urged the government to protect women’s political rights and forge visibility of women in electoral processes.

  Raja Shoaib Akbar, Senior program manager while expressing his views on celebration of women’s day said, “The Constitution of Pakistan asserts the protection of fundamental human rights and protection of women’s rights under national legislation.

Article 25 clearly guarantees equality before the law and states that there shall be no discrimination on the basis of gender.

He added, the Chapter on Principles of Policy – Article 32 and 34 also ensures full participation of women in all spheres of national life. Even after this, the stage for women voters turn out and women participation in political decision making is pale.

According to Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), the total number of registered voters in Pakistan has reached to 97.02 million including 54.4 male and 42.2 female voters.

He said that the situation is perturbing as the gap between the number of male and female voters has crossed 12 million.

While there is global movement striving for gender parity, Government of Pakistan should also take exclusive measures to ensure maximum participation of women in electoral matters.”

Stats of CPDI’s election observation in PP20 Chakwal, NA 154 Lodhran and most recent PP30 Sargodha reveal that women participation in political process remains below average and insufficient.

At the polling station 94 in Sargodha PP30 by elections, it was reported that the male household heads had strictly prohibited their women to cast vote.

CPDI pronounces that this is the classic example of dominant, discriminatory and patriarchal mindset which is the biggest hurdle in way of women’s political participation in Pakistan.

As mentioned in the Election Act 2017 (sec 9), If the turnout of women voters is less than 10% of the total votes polled in a constituency, the Commission may declare, polling at one or more polling stations or election in the whole constituency, void.

Sequential to this, ECP may take straight-out measures to ensure the presence of female voters in polling stations to bring women in political decision making. Furthermore CPDI maintained that ECP’s effort to mobilize women voters and the provisions of section 12 (C) of Elections Act 2017 has also not yet paid off.

Stakeholders need to take corrective measures to mainstream women in political life before general elections 2018. CPDI believes that Government of Pakistan and Election Commission of Pakistan shall take effective measure to beat socio-cultural and economic barriers that restrict women’s participation in the political system.

Despite severe obstacles, such as cultural resistance, discrimination patriarchy, religious extremism and religious misconceptions and unequal social power structures, Pakistani women as an individual, shall also continue its strenuous efforts to ride against the tide.

About CPDI: Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) is an independent, non-partisan and a not-for-profit registered civil society organization working on the issues of Development and Peace in Pakistan. 02

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