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One and only: Opening the door for women in local politics

One and only: Opening the door for women in local politics

KARACHI: I’m the first middle-class woman [to reach this point] but I don’t want to be the last one, says Tanzila Ume Habiba Qambrani, the only woman nominated as a committee chairperson in the upcoming local representatives’ elections in Sindh.

“I can go up to any level to serve my people and I will make sure to set such an example that the doors may never again close for other women in politics,” said Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) nominee while talking to The Express Tribune.

The 37-year-old mother of three, who also holds a master’s degree in computer sciences from the University of Sindh, has been nominated by the PPP as chairperson of the Matli municipal committee and is the only woman to contest the upcoming elections for the post of mayors, deputy mayors and chairmen and vice-chairmen of district councils, municipal committees, town committees, municipal corporations and district municipal corporations in Sindh and the only metropolitan corporation in Karachi.

After completing her education, Qambrani began her political career in 2000 as a worker of the PPP. The former lecturer and a principal at a private college has also served in the social sector in various capacities for more than 10 years.

“My husband, a primary teacher, encourages me to serve people,” she said, explaining her journey.

Qambrani recalled that she wanted to be an engineer when she was young as she loved mathematics but could not pursue her dream due to her father’s early death – who was also a diehard worker of the party.

According to Qambrani, she would have won the elections unopposed if one of the party’s councilors had not filed nomination papers against her by violating the party discipline.

In Matli, the PPP swept the local bodies’ elections, where all 19 councilors belong to the party. “Once elected, I will get the mandate to serve 150,000 people as chairperson of the municipal committee,” she informed, adding that she would work hard to show results.

Appreciating the party’s decision to nominate her, she said, “Although it’s a small step towards women empowerment, it’s a very bold and mature one.”

When asked about her immediate goals once she becomes the chairperson, she said it would be a great accomplishment for her if she manages to provide clean drinking water to her people and improve other basic civic amenities.

“My doors would be open for women throughout the day since I want to see them empowered,” she claimed, adding that she feels more responsible than proud being the only woman chairperson in the entire province.

Commenting on the limited powers to local government representatives, she said, “to improve the available infrastructure, strong will power is required which can solve 70% of the issues.”

“I’ll make every worker bound to perform their duty and monitor the work myself,” she said while commenting on the issue of ghost employees and poor attendance. Explaining her point, she informed that out of 150 sanitation workers in Matli, only 20 are currently performing their duties.

Qambrani also plans to establish a helpline through which she will make sure that complaints of people are being addressed. Talking about long-term goals, she said she would make sure that schools and hospitals are functioning properly since the literacy rate and health conditions of the people are really poor.

She quickly added that although these departments do not fall under her domain, she will do her best to ‘request’ the departments to improve their conditions.

The Express Tribune

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