News / Asia

Pakistan Looks to Women to Boost Voter Participation

Pakistan Looks to Women to Boost Voter Participationi
X
April 04, 2013 12:42 AM
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
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

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed 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.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs