Gender equality needed in politics too…
LAHORE, July 20: A national discourse organised by the South Asia Partnership (SAP) underscored the need to ensure gender equality in politics.
Legislators, lawyers, NGO workers and other socio-political activists attended the two-day event which concluded at a local hotel. SAP International Executive Director Rohit Kumar from Nepal also attended the conference.
The event was divided into topics of discussion with special focus on the challenges the women politicians face. The speakers also came up with recommendations to tackle gender inequality.
The MNAs and MPAs from all over the country, though from rival parties, were unanimous that “it’s not easy being a woman in politics”.
The women face problems like discrimination and unfavourable attitude towards them upon entering politics, mistrust and a lack of public confidence. They also face minimal opportunities, a lack of support even from their families and (additional) burden of domestic responsibilities.
Many women complained about the concept of women wings and reserved seats. “Bacha Khan had always propagated that women should be educated and that they should be ready to fight in any field along with men,” said Awami National Party MPA Shagufta Malik, who belongs to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
“The concept of women wings means that women ought to be separated and that points out to their image of being weaker than men.”
Raheela Durrani, a PML-Q legislator from Balochistan, said giving women reserved seats was not an ‘honourable’ way. “Why can’t they have their own constituency?”
This made others at the discourse to point out that women were given a seat after contesting the election and they were denied funds required for the whole of a constituency.
Rabbiya Bajwa, a lawyer, said changes were required at the grassroots level to end discrimination. “Schools syllabi need to be reviewed and society itself has to be politicised to know what is happening. Women need to be given political training and student unions need to be allowed to flourish so that young blood could come up in political spheres.”
The speakers demanded that the qualification criterion should be done away with because “it’s unfair”.
Amna Buttar, a PPP MNA, said there should be reserved seats until more women join politics. “At least for the time being the South Asian criteria of 33 per cent of women representatives in the assemblies should be met.” The argument was opposed by many.
Some participants demanded constitutional reforms and asked why a woman couldn’t be head of the state (president).