PESHAWAR: Women political leaders belonging to all main political parties of Pakistan during the Third WILL Women’s Leadership Forum reiterated their call that all political parties of the country should acknowledge the contribution and dedication of women political leaders in elections 2013 and should give equal representation to them in key positions at provincial and federal levels; they accepted each other’s successes and defeats in the general elections of 2013 and proposed voter education for future electoral processes.
The WILL Forum was jointly organized by Search for Common Ground Pakistan and PAIMAN Alumni Trust as part of their nationwide ‘Women’s Initiative for Learning and Leadership (WILL)’ campaign to celebrate struggles and achievements of women political leaders and to share their pre- and post-elections vision, experiences, insights, needs, challenges, successes, and strengthen each other as leaders.
Major national and regional political parties namely the PMNL, PTI, PPP, PML (Q), ANP and Labor Party Pakistan were represented by 23 aspiring women politicians, ex-councilors and 7 ex-MPAs who attended the Forum.
Among the participants were Munawar Farman – Ex-MPA KP, Zubaida Ihsan – Ex-MPA KP, Begum Nargis Samin Jan – Ex-MPA KP, Shagufta Malik – Ex-MPA KP, Shazia Tehmas Khan – Ex-MPA KP, Uzma Khan – Ex-MPA KPK, Yasmin Zia – Ex-MPA KP, Rehana Shakeel – Labor Party Pakistan, Fahima Begum – Ex-Councilor ANP, Rifaqat Begum – Ex-Tehsil councilor PTI, Nargis – PTI, Shahida – ANP, Taj Mehal – Ex-Councilor ANP, Noor Mahal – PTI, Aftab Munawar – Vice president ANP Mardan, Qismat Zari – PTI, Nighat- PPP, Akhtar Bibi – PPP, Akhtar Begum – PPP, Jamila – PPP, Salwa saeed – ANP, Zahida Hameed – PPP and Sara Aziz – ANP.
Paricipants articulated a strong need of a women’s political Caucuses in provincial assemblies, and all endorsed to form it to provide regional political platforms to women leaders in provincial assemblies. They said that women are not born just to be political agents at polling stations during elections; they have the potential to lead the political parties and the country and Pakistan has produced such women political leaders. Women political workers should be encouraged and given opportunity to come forward and contest in local elections.
Executive Director SFCG Pakistan, Ammara Durrani observed that during general elections 2013, about 150 women contested for National Assembly seats out of which only 36 women politicians were awarded party tickets; whereas at provincial level, 313 women politicians contested general elections out of which 155 were awarded party tickets. “Political parties should acknowledge the courageous will and determination of these women that in spite of terrorist threats they are contesting for public offices regardless of party tickets,” she said. “Parties must allocate more general and reserved seats for women politicians in future.”
The Third Women’s Leadership Forum was held as part of SFCG Pakistan’s national “Strengthening Women Parliamentarians for Effective Government” project that is working with current and aspiring women political leaders at provincial and district levels, as well as providing guidelines to media for engaging with audiences on specific issues identified by women parliamentarians.