Aurat Publication & Information Service Foundation
Post Election Multi- Stakeholder Consultation: monitoring women’s participation in elections as voters and leaders , Islamabad


Post Election Multi- Stakeholder Consultation: monitoring women’s participation in elections as voters and leaders

Gender Concerns International conducted the General Election Monitoring Mission (GEM) in partnership with Aurat Foundation, by sending women observers for monitoring the election on the Election Day, 120 women observers.  The observers observed 555 polling stations across the country. Mission issued its final report and this morning organized a multi- stakeholders’ consultation to discuss the findings and recommendations.

On October 3, 2013, both the organization launched the final detailed report during a multi-stakeholders dialogue on the current scenario of women as voters as leaders, and how to enhance it further.

Distinguished speakers at the occasion were Ms. Khawar Mumtaz, Chairperson National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW), Raja Iftikhar, ADG (PR), Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP),  Mr Ijaz ul Haq (PML-J), Ms Taqdees Gilani, Chairperson Kashmir Cultural Academy AJK, and Prof Farkhanda Aurangzaib from Aurat Foundation.

Ms Nyghat Siddique, Head of Gender Concerns Operations in Pakistan, welcomed the participants and the speakers.   She highlighted the responsibility that the Pakistan Chapter has of taking this inclusive governance forward.

Ms Sabra Bano, Head of GEM Mission, Gender Election Monitoring (GEM) Mission Pakistan 2013, gave a detailed presentation on the election monitoring, the process, outcome and recommendations with the participants. In her concluding remarks, she addressed the issues of women of Kashmir by saying, “Why women of Kashmir valley are not given the right to representation in assembly through reserve seats; they must share the right to vote and contest the elections as like their neighbouring women of Pakistan”. 

Ms Khawar Mumtaz appreciated the recommendations by the mission and shared the work of NCSW during elections. While appreciating the work done by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), she demanded that next time the ECP shall provide the gender disaggregated data of each constituency which would strengthen the value of women’s vote. She also demanded that ECP shall declare the election null and void where women’s voters’ turnout was less than 10%. She said that NCSW would suggest the Election Commission of Pakistan that in the next election, it shall also give a gender disaggregated data of rejected votes which would help to identify that which section (men or women) need training on polling vote correctly.  She also demanded reserved seats for women in the Legislative Assembly of Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

Prof. Farkhanda Aurangzaib, Director Gender and Resource Mobilization, Aurat Foundation, in her remarks said that Aurat Foundation is working on women’s political empowerment through multi-pronged strategies including encouraging women to participate in election as voters as well as leaders i.e. enabling them to contest the elections as parliamentarians. She said that party manifestoes and ticket distribution shall be made more gender balances.  She shared that Aurat Foundation has recommended the political parties to allot women at least 15%  tickets for general election, apart from reserved seats.

Raja Iftikhar Additional DG (PR) from Election Commission of Pakistan speaking at the occasion ensured the participants of ECP’s commitment to the cause of Inclusive Electoral Processes. He mentioned that ECP has ensured Women polling staff for women polling stations. A dedicated Voter Education focused on giving awareness to women of Pakistan on importance of casting their vote.

Ms Myra Imran, one of the election observer, during an informal talk with the journalists, said that confidentiality and secrecy were missing due to lack of confidence as women would step in polling booths with friends.  “I also witness some women tearing their vote before they even casted it.  Lack of voters’ education was evident”, she further said.  She suggested that ECP must consider developing an electronic system for better data management.

Mr Fawad Chaudary, former PPPP parliamentarian, and Mr Shehzad Wasim, Head of the Royal News, also attended the consultation.  Local implementing partners also shared impressions, views and thoughts about women’s participation in the elections. The session was followed by stakeholder’s consultation including parliamentarians, senators, media representative and officials from Election Commission to seek their views with reference to inclusive governance and women’s leadership in future electoral process in the country.