Though the proportion of the female population in Pakistan has touched 49 percent, yet women’s participation in general elections as candidates once again seems to be suboptimal in the upcoming February polls.
To encourage women’s participation in the election, it was legally and constitutionally bound that the political parties would allot at least 5 percent of general seat tickets to women, but as is common in Pakistan, ways have been found to dodge the top election body.
An independent study conducted by The Friday Times, revealed that except the kith and kin, and the children of political heavyweights, many women have yet not announced their intent to contest the upcoming general elections.
The expected female candidate participation, according to the overall survey, revealed that less than ten candidates are likely to contest the polls nationally.
From former ruling party PML-N, the name of Mariyam Nawaz Sharif is under consideration to contest either a Punjab Assembly seat, or National Assembly seat. From the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), it was unofficially announced that Asifa Bhutto will contest the polls for the first time. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf has yet to share any stance in this regard, the party is currently engaged in conduct intra-party elections to save its election symbol – the bat. In the last elections, Zartaj Gul contested the general elections.
The religious political parties Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam and Jamaat-e-Islami have not indicated that they intend to give tickets to women candidates, background discussions with party members revealed.
Previously, Shazia Marri, Nafeesa Shah, Samina Khalid Ghurki, Musarrat Jamshed Cheema, Shazia Abid, Nasreen Nishat Daha, Zartaj Gul, Shaista Pervez Malik and others participated in the polls.
The figures revealed that the Pakistan People’s Party is on the top as far as encouraging female candidates in the polls is concerned.
Political and constitutional experts suggest that the parties avoid any restriction by the ECP by giving tickets to women where the party’s vote bank is negligible. Many of the women also prefer not to contest the polls at the eleventh hour.
Political parties, after finalizing the delimitation of constituencies, will start the process of awarding tickets to candidates.
Sources in the ECP said that the top election authorities will soon started reminding political parties to ensure the allotment of at least five per cent of general seat tickets to women. This is a legal provision to get election symbols approved for the general elections.
In the last general elections in 2018, this special provision was added in the election laws to bind political parties to give tickets to women. This is in addition to reserved seats for women in all legislative bodies.