Aurat Publication & Information Service Foundation
International Women’s Day, National Press Club, Islamabad

National Press Club, Islamabad

International Women’s Day

In line with the International Women’s Day, Aurat Foundation and Democracy Reporting International (DRI) organized a press conference on March 7, 2013, at  the  National Press Club, Islamabad, and launched a jointly produced paper on Pakistan’s commitments under CEDAW convention.  The called for different branches of the state to provide gender-disaggregated data, meaningfully consult with women’s groups, and undertake additional special measures to promote women’s political participation in Pakistan. In the jointly produced paper ‘Women’s Participation in the Upcoming 2013 Elections: Pakistan: Pakistan’s International Law Commitments under CEDAW’, the Aurat Foundation and DRI presented recommendations aimed at improving fulfillment of women’s right to participate in political and public life as enshrined under the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Again Women (CEDAW).

Maria Rashid from Rozan, while coordinating the press conference, stated that the joint Aurat-DRI briefing paper came at an opportune time when elections are around the corner and many reforms relating to women’s participation in elections remain unaddressed. ‘The paper offers crucial recommendations for Pakistan to fulfill its international obligations with regard to women’s political rights”, she said.

Farkhanda Aurangzeb, from the Aurat Foundation, stressed the need for political parties to review and strengthen their commitments towards equal participation of women. “Parties could promote and ensure greater inclusion of women in decision-making and leadership positions within parties”, she said. She added that political parties could be required to nominate a minimum proportion of women candidates to contest on winnable general seats. 

Madiha Farhan from DRI stated: “Equal electoral participation of women is essential to the legitimacy of democratic processes and structures. It is essential that the relevant state organs take all necessary measures to eliminate discrimination against women as committed to under treaties such as the CEDAW and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).”

Speakers at  the conference proposed that additional resources, greater security, and special media coverage and policies for women candidates is needed in order to provide more equitable opportunities to women contesting on general seats. They pointed out that one of the recommendations in the paper is greater access to remedy in election disputes for women through broadening of the category of those permitted to file election petitions to include voters, civil society organizations and parties.