'Electoral process a menace for women' -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

‘Electoral process a menace for women’

CNIC no longer required for enrolment in voters’ list: Sindh election commissioner

Karachi: The electoral process needs to be simplified since women have to go through great challenges during the current process of voting in the country, said Sharmila Farooqui, Adviser to the Sindh Chief Minister (CM). She was addressing a dialogue session on challenges and obstacles in women’s right to vote. The event was organised by the Aurat Foundation.

As a general practice, most women do not vote according to their own choices and male members of the family impose their own choices on them, Farooqui said. She said that the reason for this was the lack of education and women’s unawareness of their own rights.

She disagreed with an idea that had earlier come from one of the male panelists at the event, and said that it was not only the responsibility of female parliamentarians to create awareness and mobilise female voters. “Don’t place this responsibility only on women. Men are equally responsible for accomplishing this, and once they do their job, women will not have to fight a war for their rights,” she said.

A large number of complaints came forward from a wide range of participants including city and town councillors, political workers and members of civil society organisations. In many instances, women are not allowed to vote only because of minor issues, participants said. For instance, she is stopped from voting if her Computerised National Identity Card (CNIC) mentions the name of her father instead of husband if she is married. This happens if the woman was single at the time her CNIC was made, participants pointed out during the open discussion.

At times, the woman’s name is present in the list but her CNIC number is missing, therefore she cannot vote and is discouraged for the next time, another participant said.

Provincial Election Commissioner Sonu Khan Baloch said that the condition of CNIC had been removed and from now onwards, one only needed to prove that he or she was a resident of Pakistan to get enrolled or registered in the voters’ list.

He said that the entire electoral process was mainly dependant on the voters’ lists. He announced, however, that door-to-door updating of voters’ lists would begin across the country as soon as the budget funds for the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) were released.

Adviser to the CM, Imtiaz Sheikh from the Pakistan Muslim League — Functional (PML-F), said that the female parliamentarians should not only present bills in assemblies but also make them pass through there. He suggested that the National Database & Registration Authority (NADRA) should adopt a system that as soon as a new CNIC was made, the name of the person would automatically be included in the voters’ lists. Female personnel should be deployed to ensure the maximum enrolment of women in elections, he said.

Fauzia Ejaz of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) laid stress on the need for women’s education, besides the change of mindset of society. Ejaz also said that male members of society should stop imposing their will on women and children, and instead guide them and let them make their own choices in order to elect a democratic government in its true sense.

Sindh Assembly Deputy Speaker Shehla Raza said that the last voters’ list was not genuine and it was proved in the Supreme Court that 35 million voters had not been included in the lists. Referring to the setbacks that women face during the voting process, she said that many women in rural areas do not even have their Nikah Nama, while many cannot vote only because they do not have their parents’ CNIC. She said that NADRA must reconsider its conditions and provisions to ease the process of voting.

Later, Farooqui formally launched a book, “Eligible but unable to vote.” The book has been written by Mazhar Laghari and has been published by the Aurat Foundation.

Aurat Foundation Representative Shireen Aijaz, who also had compiled the book, outlined main proposals and recommendations included in the book to remove administrative obstacles and procedural barriers in the way of women’s right to vote.

Earlier, Sindh Women’s Development Minister Tauqeer Fatima Bhutto said that unfortunately it was not only the rural areas but also urban areas such as the Defence House Authority (DHA) in Karachi where people do not vote, while as a usual practice women are not even aware at the time of data collection.
Source: The News
Date:7/20/2009