How many of us have ever thought through to run for an election campaign or run for the office?
It is rare in the societies where democratic seats are gifted to the generations while political space shrinks for the women in general. This is not only because we have some people who would not allow aspirant women to enter into political mainstream but also because of grass-root systematic inaccuracies that have been indoctrinated into our system from the beginning that it doesn’t allow women to grow in that way. Let me explain how!
We grew up listening to our elders and people around complaining about the politicians’ attitude, performance, and voters’ rights without knowing the limitations of those politicians. Our educational system didn’t support “social-activism” till we reached university where a two months internship was meant to teach us all social activism and political understanding related to community work, people engagement, and social consistency. In the meantime, we were awarded different names had anyone of us started doing anything on their own in our late adulthood. So the spirit evaporated slowly and gradually.
Considering the socio-political dynamics of our society in which we were raised, I’m convinced that it is very unlikely for the young aspirant women like us in their thirties even to run for office or it might be a stroke of luck that someone without any political background gets elected because of their political struggle.
However, hope has yet its roots grounded! In maybe thirty years from now with some utmost strategic and systematic changes in educational, social and political domains of this country (which are already in progress), there may be chances that young and aspirant women of this country might run for an electoral office on the general seat and may win the seat too. These three domains are important to discuss as they are the cornerstone of a democratic, inclusive, and prosperous society. Economic independence of the women outstrips all.
Educational changes are required at all stages as I mentioned earlier that the structural inequalities in our system do not allow more than half of the girls grow up educationally in a manner that they can understand the significance of their participation in the political process (whatever stage it is – for some even a basic understanding of casting their vote should be taken into consideration in political debates). An education revolution with a curriculum design airing political will amongst the women and men equally is most needed in this country. Democratic values should be institutionalized rather than provoking hatred through different means against political parties and political workers especially through using multifaceted media.
Social activism is likely to contribute to the development of a society where democratically elected candidates aspire to serve people who have elected them using the right vote. However, this doesn’t fall from heaven but one has to practice it. Given the history of Pakistan, we are socially and politically active only when we are struck by political unrest, humanitarian crisis, and any emergency. On the other hand, philanthropy is associated with rich only, and social development is propelled into the hands of non-profit organizations while they face backlash from state institutions too. This needs to be embedded through educational measures either through academic uplift, students’ engagement with vulnerable communities in the beginning and linking it to political education. Considering the progress, new and educated names in the provincial assemblies, women share in political mainstream although, with the quota system, there will be a time when women will lead the houses as in Pakistan what constitutes a democratic system is a political engagement of women across the board. The political process does not only entail running for an elected office but the dotted links which contribute to a healthy democracy. Women need to join the political sphere through those dotted links and we know “Future is for women who commit to aspire with not only their words but their political will.”
Contributed by: Munazza Farooq