Political parties treating women participation in elections as ‘formality’: reports


ISLAMABAD: Among the 11,885 candidates in the run for the July 25 general elections for the National and four Provincial Assemblies, there are 5,768 ticket holders of almost 94 political parties. Following this, majority of political parties are treating the five per cent women ticket quota on general seats as a formality.

There are only 305 female candidates, which is barely 5.2 per cent of the total ticket holders contesting from political parties.

It was reported by a local media outlet that almost 45 per cent political parties participating in the upcoming elections have not fielded a single female candidate.

According to the Election Law passed in 2017, women ticket allocation was made mandatory. However, data of the women candidates contesting as independent candidates is yet to be compiled by the ECP.

Before the upcoming elections, very few women had been participating on directly elected seats. The percentage of women winning on general seats has also been abysmally low and those who eventually won, usually belonged to affluent and politically influential class.

Except a few, most of these women had been fielded in the contest in case the male member of their family was not able to contest elections for one reason or the other.

In the 1970 elections, there was no quota for reserved seats for women, whereas 10 reserved seats for women were introduced in 1977, to encourage women participation in the NA. The women reserved seats in NA were increased to 20 in 1985.

In 1988 general elections, 16 women contested on the general seats. Three of them, including Benazir Bhutto who was elected first women prime minister of the country won. On the expiry of sun-set clause following the three electoral cycles of 1979, 1985 and 1988, quota of the reserved seats for women stood abolished

In 1993 general elections, 14 women participated on general seats and only four stood victorious. After 1999 military coup, General Pervez Musharraf reintroduced 60 reserved seats for women in the National Assembly by amending the Constitution through what was tagged Legal Framework Order. In the general elections held in 2002, 57 women contested.

In 2013 general elections, out of the 161 women contesting on general seats for the lower house of parliament, only nine would win.

Amongst the mainstream political parties, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) awarded an overall 5.7 per cent tickets, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) 6.2 per cent, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) 5.1 per cent, Awami National Party 6.9 per cent, MMA 5.3 per cent and Pak Sarzameen Party awarded 7.5 tickets to women candidates on general seats.