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Women’s vote

Published Feb 17, 2017 01:17am


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IN a country that gave the Muslim world its first woman prime minister, it is surprising to see opposition to measures designed to bring out the women’s vote. A proposal to order re-election in any constituency where women have cast less than 10pc of the vote has been under discussion for a while now, but is being resisted by the JUI-F and the Jamaat-i-Islami. Both parties claim the proposal amounts to “forcing women to vote” and such mandatory measures should be avoided. But in a country like Pakistan, where it is so important to increase women’s political participation and where their right to vote is not always respected, it makes perfect sense for there to be a requirement that a minimum threshold of women’s votes be present in any election for it to be considered fair and representative. We need more robust assurances that parties have not colluded to suppress the women’s vote in certain constituencies, like Lower Dir, where this has happened more than once. In the last by-election there in May 2015, none of the 50,000 registered women voters cast their ballots, because some of the religious parties who are opposing the current proposal had joined hands to ensure that women would not turn out to vote.

Maybe the reason why these parties are opposed to measures designed to encourage the women’s vote is that they have difficulty in mobilising that segment — or perhaps, in winning their vote. In fact, the requirement of 10pc minimum women’s vote is too low, and in time should be raised further. And on top of that, women’s votes should be recorded in more detail at the polling station level, to reflect not just the number of votes cast by them, but also give a party-wise breakdown. This will facilitate greater analysis of the role of the women’s vote in various constituencies across Pakistan, and help incentivise parties to seek this vote as their political strategy rather than trying to suppress it.

Published in Dawn, February 17th, 2017


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Comments (12) Closed

Ali Akbar Feb 17, 2017 10:03am

Obv women will never vote for the far, far right! They don't even allow women to reveal their face

wATANPARASTH Feb 17, 2017 10:45am

Sad 50% of the population are tried to be ousted from the government and political affairs after involvement of JUIF and JI in barring women from vote and democratic processes in the country.

Shalone Feb 17, 2017 10:47am

Good views about women participation to democratic system and making laws to see that happen. Why don't we get surprised that religious parties oppose such efforts? I hope we will Iive a time when we can talk about that aspect and stand up to these centuries old attitudes about women and their right to equal treatment and participation in all spheres of life.

Akraam Feb 17, 2017 11:08am

They (the opponents) know that women are tired of theirs exploitation of them so will not comply with ultimately they are not able to succeed in the elections

Feroz Feb 17, 2017 12:41pm

To counter these religious parties why are the other political parties not countering them and asking to raise the ceiling to 25%. If they do that when women are allowed to cast their vote, it will very likely go in their favor.

Flora Feb 17, 2017 01:45pm

Do something to educate women if they are going to vote

akif ghafoor shaikh Feb 17, 2017 03:42pm

What actually women need is mobilisation in this competitive society henceforth, educate women so that they could deal with all the challenges skillfully and audaciously.

hassan Parvez Feb 17, 2017 08:21pm

This clearly proves the two largest religious political parties are anti-women. They have always voted in favor of bills against women, they are against the education of women, their philosophy is that women should remain indoor and silently obey their male masters like husbands, fathers and brothers. These religious parties never take stand against honor killing of women, against the barbaric punishments of women by the dark ages system of Jirgas

UFO Feb 17, 2017 10:28pm

Women should also be out there running in elections not just getting the reserved seats. For that all political parties must assign at least 10% seats to women or face disqualifications.

Nawab Feb 18, 2017 01:46am

Why does it feel like that the religious parties here understand democracy better then liberals who are calling this oppressive. In a democracy, the government cannot impose its will and quotas on a specific gender. I am not affiliated, but understanding education demographics most of the membership and supporters of these parties are highly educated.

Bashir Ahmad Feb 18, 2017 05:00am

Dear Sir, I agree with your editorial comments that female voters should be allowed to vote. Army should be especially deployed in the tribal areas to provide protection to females while they vote and facilitate the electoral process. In Australia, perhaps out of all western democracies,election time voting is compulsory at all three tiers of government. If a registered voter fails to vote, without genuine reason, he/she has to pay a fine

Amir Dewani-USA. Feb 18, 2017 05:53am

Why only 10% women votes as the minimum? Why not to make it fifty fifty vs men? Please educate them, encourage them, and don't degrade them. It is a shame for those few mullahs and moulvis who treat women as mere chattels - especially in the farthest corners of the country. God Almighty says he created us all equal. If this is our belief, then who are those 'stone-age' thinkers to under rate women in the modern society? In my opinion there must be special provision for women @ fifty percent participation in the process of elections. Alternatively, they must forget about democracy.