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

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor 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.
Sierra Leone Ebola Orphans Face Another Crisisi
X
March 06, 2015 12:28 AM
There's growing concern about the future of an orphanage run by a British charity in Sierra Leone, after a staff member and his wife died this week from Ebola. The Saint George Foundation Orphanage in Freetown is now in quarantine, with more than 20 children and seven staff in lock-down. The BBC has agreed to share Ebola-related material with Voice of America because of the difficulties faced by media organizations reporting the crisis. Clive Myrie reports from Sierra Leone.
Video

Video Sierra Leone Ebola Orphans Face Another Crisis

There's growing concern about the future of an orphanage run by a British charity in Sierra Leone, after a staff member and his wife died this week from Ebola. The Saint George Foundation Orphanage in Freetown is now in quarantine, with more than 20 children and seven staff in lock-down. The BBC has agreed to share Ebola-related material with Voice of America because of the difficulties faced by media organizations reporting the crisis. Clive Myrie reports from Sierra Leone.
Video

Video Growing Concerns Over Whether Myanmar’s Next Elections Will Be Fair

Myanmar has scheduled national elections for November that are also expected to include a landmark referendum on the country's constitution. But there are growing concerns over whether the government is taking the necessary steps to prepare for a free and fair vote. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman was recently in Myanmar and files this report from our Southeast Asia bureau in Bangkok.
Video

Video Nigeria’s Ogonis Divided Over Resuming Oil Production

More than two decades ago, Nigeria’s Ogoni people forced Shell oil company to cease drilling on their land, saying it was polluting the environment. Now, some Ogonis say it’s time for the oil to flow once again. Chris Stein reports from Kegbara Dere, Nigeria.
Video

Video Winter Weather Strikes Eastern US...Again!

A new wintry blast has hit more than 20 states in the U.S. Midwest and Mid-Atlantic region, adding more snow to the piles from previous storms. Tired of shoveling snow, breaking the ice and dealing with accidents, flight delays and property damage, most Americans hope this is the last bout of cold for the season. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Myanmar's Traditional Fashion Choices Endure

The sartorial choices of Myanmar’s men and women quickly catch the eye of any visitor to the tropical Southeast Asian country. But at a time when Myanmar’s political and economic opening is bringing affordable western fashions to the masses, will the country’s unique fashion trends endure? VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Yangon explores that question.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More