Potohar Organization for Development of Agriculture (PODA Pakistan) Project Manager and climatologist Dr Adnan Arshad has and said that violence against women in election is a pervasive challenge that undermine women’s equal access to the democratic process as a voter, candidate, polling staff, polling agents and elected leaders.
He was sharing his views during a daylong training of trainers for building the capacity of rural women leaders to promote votes without violence. The training session was organized in Lahore and was attended by 12 promising rural women leaders belonging to different tehsils of district Lahore.
Ex-MPA Kanwal Liaquat says women cannot be represented by men at any level
Imparting knowledge and skills to enhance capacity building of rural women, the Potohar Organization for Development of Agriculture – with support of the National Democratic Institute – aims to empower a batch of 240 women from four provinces across the country. PODA Project Coordinator Raheema Sultana elaborated different types of violence against women in electoral process, gender gaps in voter turnout and explained solution strategies to enhance women political participation at the district level.
Advocate Khawaja Zahid focused on the thematic areas, including universal system of human rights and women’s rights in the constitution; constitutional rights and political rights of women; women’s struggle for their political rights and laws protecting women against physical, mental and cyber harassment; and awareness on relevant clauses of the Elections’ Act 2017 and NADRA’s procedure for the documentation.
The women participants highlighted that the gender parity in the voter list was of great concern. Syeda Nazia Naqvi said that many women voters were barred to take part in the electoral process pertaining to pressure from some of their male family members. They are either directed who to vote for or denied the opportunity to use their right to participate in the process altogether.
Ayesha Shafqat, a very strong woman leader despite the fact of being a wheelchair user, pointed out those women with disabilities face a very acute form of violence where they were not given access to the polling stations. This unable a notable amount of population to stay away from using their constitutional right to vote.
Raheema Sultana shares different types of violence against women in electoral process, gender gaps in voter turnout
Former provincial lawmaker Kanwal Liaquat joined the session and encouraged the trainees for a better political participation. She said that women cannot be represented by men at any level. It has to be a woman who will table her demands. For a woman to have a leadership role, she has to be economically and politically empowered.
“If we want to enable a strong and safe community for our women, we need to condition our men for it,” said Liaquat Awan, a senior lawmaker. At the end of the training, awards were distributed among the participants who showed commitment to enhance awareness of rural women about their constitutional, political as well as human rights ensuring peaceful electoral process with their active participation.
The participants were excited to replicate these trainings in their respective areas. They appreciated efforts of the covol society organization for taking the initiative at grassroots level to ensure inclusivity for a better tomorrow half of the population of the country is able to utilize its full potential and lead a valued life.