Press Release

The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women [UN Women], in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme [UNDP] and Free and Fair Elections Network [FAFEN], organized a national forum in Islamabad on Monday, 2 April 2012 on 'Collective Action for Ensuring Women's and Girl's Participation in Electoral Processes in Pakistan' which aimed at building political commitment and momentum on women and girls participation in elections, and to formulate recommendations to ensure the inclusion of women and girls in the electoral process. The forum was attended by participants from National Database Registration Authority [NADRA], Election Commission of Pakistan [ECP], national and international development and human rights organizations, members of the parliament and provincial assemblies, academia, and media. 

The forum presented a draft resolution recommending specific steps to be taken by policymakers in order to increase women's participation and representation in the electoral process at all levels. These include earmarking at least 10% of party tickets to women; 33% representation of women in parliamentary boards; expedite the process of registering all women, issuing them CNICs and making them part of the electoral roles; improved facilities for women voters at the polling station; where there is evidence of women not being allowed to vote, the polls in that constituency should be declared null and void; and implementation of reforms at ECP according to their 5-year plan. 

The speakers at the event highlighted the need for women's and girl's participation in electoral processes as an important channel for ensuring that they have both  voice and visibility, and are part of decision making processes essential for a strong democracy. The critical role of the Election Commission of Pakistan was also recognized. In its five year plan, the ECP focuses, among other reforms, on the need to formulate laws that ensure that marginalised groups including women, minorities and persons with disabilities are able to participate in the political and electoral processes. Civil society organizations, international and national organizations were encouraged to support the government's efforts in striving for this noble cause.

The speakers included Mr. Tariq Malik, Deputy Chairman, NADRA; Mr. Saeed Ahmad Alvi, Secretary, Ministry of Human Rights; Syed Sher Afghan Khan, Director General, Election Commission of Pakistan; Ms. Mussarat Qadeem, Chairperson, FAFEN; Ms. Nilofar Bakhtiar, Ex-Senator and Chairperson Bardasht; Ms. Bushra Gohar, MNA and member of Women Parliamentary Caucus; Mr. Timo Pakkala, United Nations Resident Coordinator; Alice H. Shackelford, Country Director, UN Women; and Toshihiro Tanaka, Country Director, United Nations Development Programme. (#) 

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Tariq Khattak, Islamabad, Pakistan.
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