Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Report reveals women and youth hold little power in political parties

ISLAMABAD: Although mainstream political parties claim to give importance to women and youth issues, a recently released report revealed that they do not even allow women to vote in election.

Non-governmental Organisation (NGO) Association Behaviour and Knowledge Transformation (ABKT) launched the report at a local hotel on Monday which recommended that parties should encourage merit and allow youth to play a role in party affairs.

Recommendations included a quota for youth in intra-party elections, lifting a ban on student unions and discouraging feudal influence. Elections should be declared null and void in any constituency or polling station that bar women from voting, it said.

The report further recommended that educational institutions should provide an environment to young people to groom their leadership skills and programmes should be organised to increase women`s interest in politics.

Measures should also be taken to increase women`s literacy. It said that the government should also facilitate registration of people living in remote areas.

Most political party representatives present on the occasion claimed that their parties involve women and youth in party matters.

Mufti Ameer Zeb of Jamiat Ulema Islam-Fazal said that his party has been working for women`s rights and has been giving importance to youth.

Pakistan People`s Party`s Ghufran Ahad agreed that no political party gives importance to women and young people.

He said that workers were always ignored and sons of influential people grab the most important party positions.

`The current government is not serious about solving the problems faced by young people. Instead of creating jobs, it has been considering to privatising different organizations,` he said.

Farooq Iqbal of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz said that his party gave priority to women and youth and even in the next elections tickets would be given to youth.

Sana Ejaz of Awaami National Party (ANP) said that women hold key positions in her party and ANP had women minister when it was in government.

Election Commission of Pakistan Director Public Relations Altaf Ahmed said that ECP believed in a democratic Pakistan. He said that a proposal had been sent by ECP that elections should be declared null and void if ratio of polling by women remains at less than 10 per cent.

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan representative Nasreen Azhar said women should be involved in decision making. She said women, youth and people belonging to different religions should be treated the same.

ABKT Executive Director Shad Begum told Dawn that the study includes a survey held in three districts i.e. Upper Dir, Lower Dir and Malakand District. `Study shows that most of the political parties have talked about women and youth in their manifestos but they have no action plan and strategy for them,` She said.

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Empty vs Sympathy

- Shad Begum (Human Rights Activist, from Pakistan)