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Speakers for more women representation in LG elections

19 February, 2014

ISLAMABAD: Oxfam in collaboration with Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Centre for Civic Education Pakistan and its local partners Khwendo Kor, SAP PK and SAFWCO organised a Policy Dialogue on "Women participation and equal representation in local governance systems" at a local hotel in Islamabad.

The event highlighted that local government systems have been instrumental in promoting basic democracy, public participation, strengthening local accountability and efficient delivery of services. It was well attended by Provincial Governments, Political Parties, Civil Society Organisations and media.

The participants discussed that women participation and equal representation in these local governance systems across Pakistan is important to ensure their effective role in decision making and empowerment.

Currently, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkahwa provinces have reserved 33% of women's representation, in all level of local government councils. Whereas, Sindh and Punjab have less than 33% of women representation at all levels in the local government bodies.

Speaking on the occasion, Taj Haider, advisor to chief minister Sindh called for electronic voting machines and explained that women's reserved seats have been reduced so that women's dependence on reserved seats is reduced and more women can come forward on general seats.

Khawar Mumtaz from National Commission on Status of Women said, "Seats of women must not be rolled back and should not be lessened from 33%, anything less is not enough. Women should also be given the freedom and opportunity to contest on general seats"

The participants at the event urged that all Provincial Governments (ie Punjab, Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa and Sindh) should hold free and fair Local Government Elections, as soon as possible, to ensure the devolution of Power to the Local Government as guaranteed in the Constitution of Pakistan.

Furthermore, Government of Punjab and Sindh must improve the act and ensure minimum 33% of women representation at all levels of local government. In addition to that all political parties must make particular efforts and provision to allocate at least 1/4 tickets to women candidates for general members' seat. These should be in addition to the reserve seat to ensure that women candidates have the opportunity to be elected rather than selected by members.

Lastly, local government acts must recognise women's leadership role, therefore position of chairman or deputy chairman, mayor or deputy mayor should be reserved for women.

Concluding the event, Arif Jabbar Khan Country Director of Oxfam in Pakistan emphasized, "It is not enough to give women mere representation but women's effective participation must also be ensured."

End.

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