Islamabad, March 6, 2017: The European Union's Delegation to Pakistan organised a workshop on 'Women and Elections' in Islamabad yesterday. In the run up to International Women's Day, this workshop sought to explore ways to increase the participation of Pakistani women in general elections. It gathered women and men from a broad spectrum of the Pakistani civil society.
For the first time, women Ambassadors of EU Member States in Pakistan headed roundtable discussions on separate topics relating to elections. The topics included and some of the main recommendations are as follows:
1. Media and Social media – To promote participation of women in elections both as voters and candidates, and to promote /ensure gender-sensitive reporting, moderated by H.E. Ingrid Johansson, Ambassador of Sweden.
Capacity building and Sensitization
- It was strongly recommended that capacity of representatives of media outlets be built in gender sensitive reporting and gender responsive information sharing as well gender disaggregated electoral information dissemination.
- Political parties should be sensitized to the need of giving equal opportunities to female candidates for projection and presentation in electronic media.
- An election specific gender sensitive Code of Conduct be developed by media itself
- It should be included in the Regulatory Framework that both state owned and private media outlets should allocate time to create awareness regarding importance of women participation in electoral process as voters and candidates.
Electoral processes in FATA
It was suggested that ECP, media outlets and NGOs should take extra measures to carry out gender sensitive voters' education in FATA and reach out to women to participate in electoral processes as candidates also.
2. Access, mobility – To remove physical, social and cultural barriers to women wishing to register and vote, moderated by H.E. Jeannette Seppen, Ambassador of the Netherlands.
- Vigorous Efforts to maximize Registration of Women as Voters prior to General Election 2018
- Measures to create conducive environment for women’s participation in electoral processes
- Multi-pronged strategy for information, education and awareness on need of women’s participation in electoral and political processes
3. Monitoring / observation – To promote a gender-sensitive monitoring and observation of elections, moderated by H.E. Brigitta Blaha, Ambassador of Austria.
- The domestic observation groups must ensure at least 40 to 50 percent participation of women observers as part of observation groups
- The observers’ groups need to be sensitized on the issues of gender. Standardized guidelines around gender issues need to be developed. In order to mainstream gender sensitization across the board a training cell should be formed with significant expertise on issues of gender for across the board sensitization of gender issues.
- Local community should be made part of the observation and monitoring processes to not only make it more participatory but also get a buy in from the local communities.
4. Gender and political parties – To promote gender-sensitive inner-party democratic policies, moderated by H.E. Ina Lepel, Ambassador of Germany.
Level of Act / ECP / Other partners/programs
- Political Parties Act to be amended, requiring each political party to give at least 35% of tickets to women candidates.
- Strengthen intraparty elections requirements to make the inclusive and promote equal opportunity.
- Make the registration of political parties contingent upon meeting the required benchmarks (number of female office bearers, etc.).
Level of Political Parties
- Political parties should play a strong role in mobilizing and facilitating women voters, including support for CNIC registration.
- Political parties’ own internal processes for promoting women as holders of office and in leadership positions should be encouraged and monitored.
- Political parties should put more female candidates on mainstream tickets, especially for “winnable” seats and not just on reserved seats.
(Detailed recommendations attached)
Speaking at the occasion, Ambassador of the European Union to Pakistan Jean-François Cautain said, "Gender equality is a core value of the European Union and enshrined in its legal and political framework. Discriminatory laws, practices or cultural norms often limit girls’ and women’s social, economic and political participation. The gap is even larger when gender inequality intersects with other forms of exclusion such as disability, age, caste, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or geographical remoteness. The EU is supporting Pakistan in its efforts to promote more women as full stakeholders in Pakistani politics in particular in the run up of next year's general elections."
Recommendations resulting from the discussion will be presented in a seminar being organised by the Election Commission of Pakistan in Islamabad on 7th March.
International Women's Day is celebrated on 8 March each year to highlight the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, and to accelerate action towards gender parity. This year, the European Union's theme is #BeBoldForChange and #4WomensRights, which is a call to all of us to help forge a more gender-inclusive world. "Through purposeful collaboration, we can help women advance and unleash the limitless potential offered to economies the world over."
International Women's Day (IWD) has been observed since the early 1900s. It is a collective day of global celebration and a call for gender parity. IWD is a powerful global platform that unifies action for gender parity while celebrating the social, cultural, economic and political achievements of women. It is based on ten values: justice, dignity, hope, equality, collaboration, tenacity, appreciation, respect, empathy and forgiveness.
For further details please contact:
Ms Ayesha Babar
Press and PR Officer
Delegation of the European Union to Pakistan
Phone: +92-51-227 182 8
Fax: +92-51-282 260 4
Email address: Ayesha.Babar@eeas.europa.eu