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Plan devised to increase women participation in political parties

ISLAMABAD, Dec 18: More than 90 representatives of women’s wings of five major political parties have developed and endorsed a ‘National action plan’ to strengthen these wings and boost women representation in the parties’ decision making bodies.

The plan is an outcome of a two-day workshop which was attended by women representatives from the PPP, PML-N, PML-Q, ANP and MQM. The workshop was arranged by the National Democratic Institute (NDI) to launch a new three-year program to strengthen women’s participation in political parties. The participants included members of the Senate, National Assembly and provincial assemblies and central, provincial and district level leaders of women’s wings from Islamabad and all the four provinces.

Recommendations for the plan were drafted in party groups and then presented to a plenary session for discussion. The plan was unanimously adopted by all the participants after presentation of the final draft by an advisory committee made up of representatives from the five parties. The plan sets out minimum standards for women’s participation in political parties with two key objectives; to strengthen women’s wings and to increase women’s representation on party decision making bodies.

The plan calls for a specified quota for representation of women in the party’s decision making bodies at all levels, including the policy and manifesto making bodies, consultation with the women’s wings on the allocation of tickets for reserved and general seats and ticket allocations based on merit. “Your strength is your unity,” observed Human Rights Commission chairperson Asma Jahangir and urged the participants to make alliances with other parties as well as with civil society to mainstream women’s issues with other problems in society.

She said women were the first victims of any crisis whether it is a financial one or the overall culture of violence. Women need to be united to be better able to face these challenges, she added.

NDI country director Sheila Fruman appreciated the party activists for helping to create a new space for democracy to flourish in Pakistan in elections held last February. Now, she said, parties must recognise that contribution and create more opportunities for women to play leadership roles as part of a winning strategy.

She noted that all the five parties signed a Global Action Plan in 2003 initiated by the NDI to enhance women’s political participation and lauded the women for developing the consensus plan to implement the previous commitment of their party leaders.
Source: Dawn