News / Asia

Pakistan Looks to Women to Boost Voter Participation

Pakistan Looks to Women to Boost Voter Participationi
X
April 04, 2013
For the first time in Pakistan’s history, two women from the highly conservative tribal regions are running for parliament in the upcoming national elections. Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on efforts being made by local and international organizations to get more women to the ballot box.

Pakistan Looks to Women to Boost Voter Participation

TEXT SIZE - +
Sharon Behn
— For the first time in Pakistan’s history, two women from the highly conservative tribal regions are running for parliament in the upcoming national elections. Local and international organizations are making an effort to get more women to the ballot box.

Badam Zari is making history by running for parliament from Pakistan's conservative and Taliban-dominated tribal belt.
 
"I made this decision to serve and help our sisters and mothers in the area. Our area of Bajur (tribal region) is poor and backward, we have problems in the health and education sectors - this is the reason I decided to take part in the election," Zari said.
 
Most women in Pakistan's tribal regions rarely leave their homes.
 
Asad Sarwar, the official who received Zari's nomination papers, says her decision is historic in the Taliban-dominated tribal areas.
 
"This woman has broken barriers. This is very courageous. This step will pave the way for other people, especially women,” Sarwar said.
 
Women's rights also remain threatened outside of the strongly-conservative tribal regions.  Last year Taliban militants shot teenage activist Malala Yousufzai for supporting girls' education.
 
Afzal Khan of the Election Commission says getting women to participate from all parts of Pakistan in the May 11 elections is vital.
 
"They are a little more than 50 percent of our population and they must play their positive role. There are sensitivities, you know cultural sensitivities, but there are solutions to every problem," Khan said.
 
Pakistan’s election commission says it is focusing on educating and reaching out to female and minority voters.
 
Yet there are challenges to increasing their participation.  Some 10 million women do not have identity cards, making it impossible to even register to vote.
 
Others must overcome traditions that bar women’s participation in public life.
 
Lena Lindberg, the Pakistan Country Director of U.N. Women, says women tend to abide by their male relatives' decisions. So voter education is aimed at both men and women.
 
"Many women believe that it is not proper for them to take part in any decision making, not to speak about electing a government. So it certainly has to be targeting both.  For change to happen, to improve women's rights in society, women's participation in elections, both men and women have to understand what the needs are and what the best is for society in the future," Lindberg said.
 
In Pakistan's last elections, only 44 percent of eligible voters cast their ballots.
 
Organizers hope that this time around, getting more women to the polling booths could as much as double voter turnout.

You May Like

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Turkish Law Gives Spy Agency Controversial Powers

Parliament approves legislation to bolster powers of intelligence service, which government claims is necessary to modernize and deal with new threats Turkey faces More

Video Face of American Farmer Changing

Average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Face of American Farmer is Changingi
X
Mike Osborne
April 18, 2014
The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid