Moot demands 33pc seats for women in parliament -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Moot demands 33pc seats for women in parliament

KARACHI, Sept 8: Women politicians and activists belonging to various parties and organisations at an “All-Parties Women Conference” demanded that womenfolk be given 33 per cent representation in the parliament and the condition of graduation be waived for a woman member.

The conference was organised by the Aurat Foundation here on Friday.

They pointed out that there was a very low literacy rate in Pakistani women, and argued that setting the condition of graduation for a candidate of parliamentary seat seemed to be aimed at keeping a majority of women away from the forum.

Addressing the moot, Sindh Women Development Minister Dr Saeeda Malik appreciated women legislators’ performance and contribution towards the cause of women, but regretted that a group or alliance of women legislators could not be formed as yet. She stressed on taking up all women issues at political forum from the platform of such an alliance or group that, she said, should work above an individual’s party affiliation.

She expressed the view that the country could not make the desired progress if the women, which constituted half of its population, were denied their due role, rights and opportunities.

Senator Rukhsana Zuberi pointed out that women candidates usually failed to run an effective election campaign for want of transport means, essential to bring voters to polling stations. She said the state should extend cooperation to women candidates for the purpose.

MPA Shazia Marri said general elections must be held under an independent election commission which should strictly implement the election rules, particularly those pertaining to campaign expenses. She urged all political parties to decline a ticket to those who had been making statements against women’s role in politics. She said the election commission should disqualify such candidates.

MPA Sharafunnisa Leghari said that efforts be made to ensure registration of all women voters so that they could be involved in the political process.

MPA Humaira Alwani urged women to take active part in politics as they had to make their way into the decision-making bodies of the government.

Huma Baqai, a political trainer, observed that womenfolk were discriminated against around the world, pointing out that even in the established democracies of the West, the percentage of women in power corridors appeared less than that of men. Similarly, she added, a woman was paid less than what was paid to a man for a same job.

Anis Haroon of the Aurat Foundation urged political parties to ensure that their workers did not carry weapons during the election campaign and polling. She said they must show tolerance towards rival parties, groups and individuals. Democratic values and norms must be upheld in all circumstances, she added.

Nargis Rehman of the Karachi Women’s Peace Committee, Shahzadi Micheal of the All-Pakistan Minority Alliance, Salma Waheed of the PML-Q, Seema Rafiq of the PPP-SB, Shagufta Jehanzeb, Farzana Baloch, Mumtaz Wasi, Azra Pervin, Iqbal Sultana and Nuzhat Sheerin were among others who spoke at the conference.

The Pakistan National Workers Party, Labour Party Pakistan and All-Pakistan Minority Alliance attended the moot. The PML-N, MQM, Jamaat-i-Islami, Jeay Sindh Mahaz, Sindhiyani Tehreek, etc did not sent their representatives to the conference.
Source: Dawn
Date:9/9/2007