ISLAMABAD, Oct 15: The government must ensure that votes of rural women are registered before the upcoming elections to make representation of women in Parliament reflective of the actual population.

It was stressed that representation of women in Parliament and the Senate must be between 33 and 50 per cent.

This was stated by speakers at a two-day long annual conference on the International Day of Rural Women, organised by Potohar Organisation for Development Advocacy (Poda).

The conference was organised with the cooperation of 37 partner organisations of Poda, and attended by women belonging to 85 districts across the country, including the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) and Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJK).

Speaking at the conference, Federal Minister for National Heritage and Integration Samina Khalid Ghurki said: “Rural women are our pride and their contribution in rural life is a great asset”.

She said that the best way to improve the social status of women in rural areas is to change the male domination mindset.

Women belonging to Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa highlighted that their counterparts have suffered the wrath of terrorists in the form of bombardments of schools, hospitals and shopping areas.

“But it is a fact that women have never been included in any peace making process at the local community or national level,” said a participant belonging to Swat.

One speaker hailing from rural Sindh, said that despite being the major food producing province, women from her province remain totally dependent on their male relatives for access to land.

“We are at constant risk of mental torture in the hands guardians, who can be a husband, brother or father.”

Dr Nafisa Shah, Parliamentarian from Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), speaking on the occasion said: “As Pakistan struggles to contain rising extremism, and to uphold the rule of law, there is a crucial need to promote the engagement of women as moderating forces within the country”.

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