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PESHAWAR: Representatives of civil society organisations (CSOs) and the provincial government have voiced concern over increasing pre-election violence in parts of the country and demanded of the relevant departments to take concrete steps for protection of political workers and voters especially women to ensure they exercise their right to vote without any fear in the July 25 general elections.

Speaking at a press conference in Peshawar Press Club on Saturday, a representative of the District Committee on the Status of Women (DCSW), Shaheen Quraish, said that the attack on political gatherings in Peshawar, Bannu and Quetta had deteriorated the situation ahead of the general elections.

She said that the authorities concerned should take the requisite security measures to ensure an atmosphere of peace and maximum participation of voters, particularly women in the electoral process.

Flanked by Aurat Foundation programme officer and DCSW member Said Afzal, Ms Shaheen said that women’s participation was vital in the general elections.

She said that on their part they were taking measures to facilitate women to exercise their right to vote in a large number.

She said that the DCSW had been mandated to monitor pre-election activities and work in the targeted four districts, includingPeshawar, Kohat, Swabi and Bannu under an agreement between the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Commission on Status of Women and Aurat Foundation.

She said that the project would help increase women’s participation in the electoral process.

She said that pre-election training sessions would be conducted for the members of the district committees, which would play a significant role to sensitize female voters to use their right to vote.

Said Afzal said that the Aurat Foundation and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Commission on the Status of Women (KPCSW) had signed an agreement to support women’s participation in the four targeted districts of KP for the upcoming general elections.

He added that his organisation would provide technical assistance to KPCSW to constitute district committees.

He said that the committees would brief the women in the targeted districts on KPCSW Act 2016 and the Election Act 2017 as well asPakistan’s electoral system so as to increase women’s participation in elections.

Published in Dawn, July 15th, 2018