The Express Tribune
Published Date: Dec 12, 2013
Political empowerment Innovation can break barriers to ensure women participation
To review whether barriers to political participation for
women since the May elections have changed or eased, the panel
discussion, "Barriers to women’s participation in politics: A review
post elections 2013"
invited Babar Jamal, Haider Nizamani, Irina Mosel and Uzma Zarinat as
SDPI’s 16th Sustainable Development Conference.
The ensuing discussion focused on educating women on social
and political matters, as well as the state apparatus so that political
participation and representation from a voter’s level to that of a
parliamentarian can be enhanced across the board for women.
Proposing viable solutions to bring about this object, Uzma
Zarinat highlighted that many female voters in Pakistan are not registered, so
the ECP and NADRA should work in collaboration towards this end.
She suggested that in constituencies with less than 50% of
women voters registered, the election results should be voided.
On a similar note, Irina Mosel brought to light the large
percentage of Afghan refugee women and female IDPs existing without a legal
identity, an obvious obstacle to participation in the system.
She also delineated that women should be well-versed in the
mechanisms and intricacies of the judicial system as well as alternative
dispute resolution (ADR), to ensure an inclusive public space is available.
Alluding to certain instances, Babar Jamal pointed out that
women parliamentarians promise to work for women rights while campaigning, but
after becoming part of the system, they may find it difficult to bring these
issues to light as their parties may have a diverging agenda.
Haider Nizamani highlighted the role of civil society in
increasing women’s participation. "The popular thread of rhetoric regarding
equal opportunities for women pitches economic empowerment through microfinance
as the ultimate route to political
empowerment without realising that women face on-ground challenges and barriers
in the business world as well, hence placing them at a disadvantage from the
He also said that in order to understand such far-reaching
barriers and overcome them, the wider sociopolitical and economic context
should be taken into account while envisioning obstacles that may spring up at
any juncture and sphere, and formulate policies and laws accordingly.