KARACHI: The slash in women’s representation from 33 per cent to 22 per cent under the new local government bill adopted on Monday has not gone down well with the women’s rights organisations.
The Aurat Foundation, the Women’s Action Forum and the National Commission on the Status of Women have requested the provincial government to modify the Sindh Local Government Bill 2013.
The organisations expressed disappointment over the token representation of women and demanded of the government to bring the representation to its original ratio in the directly elected first tiers at union council, union committee and the indirectly elected seats at other tiers.
NCSW chairperson Khawer Mumtaz, resident director of the AF, Mahnaz Rahman, and WAF’s Anis Haroon said on Tuesday that the earlier draft of the bill was much closer to the aspirations of women. “This falls far short of Pakistan’s own benchmark of 33 per cent seats in the local government at all levels and of international standards of 33 per cent as the necessary critical mass for meaningful representation of women,” Mumtaz said.
“Given the track record of the PPP governments in the past in the form of land distribution to landless women in Sindh, its income support programme for poor households through women, the expectation was continued and affirmative action in the same spirit,” Rahman said.
Haroon said that the role of women’s participation in the local governments in large numbers was instrumental in bringing ordinary women into the political mainstream. “A number of women MPAs and MNAs were schooled in this experience,” she added.
They also demanded to include the provision of honoraria for female members as part of affirmative action to enable their full participation in the meetings.