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KPCSW chief Neelum Toru addresses a press conference in Peshawar on Monday. — INP
KPCSW chief Neelum Toru addresses a press conference in Peshawar on Monday. — INP

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Commission on Status of Women Chairperson Neelum Toru and representatives of various civil society organisations have urged the interim government and Election Commission of Pakistan to take adequate measures to ensure maximum participation of women voters in the upcoming general elections.

Addressing a news conference at Peshawar Press Club on Monday, Ms Toru said that participation of women was important in the electoral process. She praised ECP for taking a decision to declare the election results as null and void of those polling stations wherein the ratio of women’s voters would remain below 10 per cent.

She said that it was an encouraging step that would help bring transparency and fairness in the electoral process.

Flanked by women right activists Shabina Ayaz, Mariyam Bibi, Amina Durrani and others, Ms Toru said that KPCSW had chalked out a comprehensive strategy to monitor participation of women in the elections.

KPCSW sets up cell to monitor election process

She said that the commission through its online services would provide to voters fulltime support and would identify the cases of violation of their rights.

She said that the commission had formed monitoring committees in Upper Dir, Lower Dir, Tank, Dera Ismail Khan, Bannu, Nowshera, Swabi, Charsadda, Peshawar and Kohat for the purpose.

Ms Toru said that around 60 observers including members of the commission and civil society activists would be deployed to monitor the polling process in those districts.

She said that the commission had established a women election monitoring cell to report violation of the rights of women voters as well as any issue that was faced by female candidates.

She said that the cell would be linked with the control room of ECP, Chief Minister’s Secretariat and provincial home department for amicable resolution of the issues.

Aurat Foundation regional chief Shabina Ayaz said on the occasion that women had been barred from using their right to vote in several areas in the past due to cultural barriers and other reasons.

She said that efforts were being made again to deprive women voters of their democratic and constitutional rights in some areas like Swabi and Bannu. She said that KPCSW and her oganisation’s monitoring cell would raise such issues.

She demanded of the government and ECP to take appropriate steps to ensure participation of maximum women in the electoral process.

Published in Dawn, July 24th, 2018