Women’s Status in Democracy, Elections, Politics, and Electoral Process in Pakistan
Women’s Status in Democracy, Elections, Politics, and Electoral Process in Pakistan:
Women make up a very important part of Pakistani society and its economy, which unfortunately is not reflected in the country’s electoral process.
Although women’s suffrage was granted in it was not till 1956, almost a decade after Pakistan’s inception that women were allocated (dual) voting rights, “one for general seats and the other for the reserved women’s seats”, which was intended to greatly enhance women’s role in the electoral process.
However, this right was abolished in 1962 and was not reinstated in the 1973 Constitution. Therefore, rather than moving forward in the direction set by Jinnah i.e. walking next to men in every sphere of life, Pakistan’s legal framework regarding women’s representation regressed.
In Pakistan, the growth of militant Islamic fundamentalism has included special forms of discrimination against women. This happened in spite of having equalitarian provisions in the constitution of Pakistan.
Women’s participation in democracy has seen obstacles to women’s equal participation in a democracy are deeply embedded in the patriarchal nature of the society. Another obstacle to women’s political participation in the intensely competitive nature of politics itself.
In Pakistan, politics is a lucrative source of income and power which men attempt to control. In this way, they were a seemingly less active agent in the society and were performing the functions which were not of worth for the community development and governance and consider the position rendered to them as ‘women’s place is in the home’.
Democratic Challenges for Women in Baluchistan:
Baluchistan is power imbalanced province due to strong patriarchal systems, tribal systems, religious influences, and male dominancy, the power is in the hand of men the male dominancy in overall political parties, politics, democracy, elections, and public life systems that increasing inequities, pushing women back and spaces for women is shrinking.
Political party’s manifestos are based on unequal gender that needs an equality analysis with the suggestion of gender equality to be incorporated, discrimination against women in law and in practice in local context not properly analyzed that need to be analyzed with recommendations for policy and planning.
Women and multiple actor’s capacities are weak to challenge patriarchy, hegemonic masculinity, predominant barriers to women’s equal participation, and address patriarchal norms which hamper women’s participation which needs capacities and awareness of changing minds and behaviors on equal gender approaches, women transformative approaches, socio-ecological model informed by feminist ideology and rooted in human rights principles.
According to YAD’s analysis identified three significant social-cultural barriers that restrict women’s access to political participation in Baluchistan. The first barrier is male domination and the second is a misinterpretation of religious edicts regarding women and their participation in politics and the third is the nomadic way of life. Male domination refers to the complete superiority and authority possessed by the men over the women.
In this system, men exercise all power whereas women are kept subordinate to them in every way in the results every fourth eligible woman voter is not on the electoral list as she doesn’t have a CNIC, also the gender gap in voter registration the number of women voters is 15.4% less than male voters the COVID19 outbreak further slow the registration process.
It is observed that Baluchistan’s women are trapped in a web of dependency and subordination due to their low social, economic and political status in society. Women’s inclusion in governance structures is also very limited in Pakistan.
Women’s access to and exercise of their right to political participation is critical to bring about substantive changes in policies & programs that would lead to a shift in gender relations in society. There is a wide gap between Pakistan state’s national and international commitments and their implementation and women’s inclusion in governance, legislative and reform structures are critical to holding the state and other duty bearers accountable.
The socio-cultural barriers rooted in the patriarchal system and mindsets that inhibit women’s participation in public life must be transformed through a gender transformative approach to ensure women can claim their rights and entitlements and have a voice and agency.
Problem Analysis of Women’s Participation in Politics, Elections, Electoral Process and Democracy in Baluchistan:
In Baluchistan, the patriarchal systems are very strong, imbalance of power between men and women and inequities in systems, procedures & practices, the province is also under the grip of strong tribal systems and religious dominancy, tribal and religious people have a stronghold in political, elections, democratic & legislative systems and enjoying both treasury and opposition benches.
Baluchistan politics and local political parties are led by tribal heads and religious persons, always they are party heads and parliamentary leaders in assemblies, their minds and behaviors are against women’s rights & equal participation within the parties, within the assembly and within the entire political, electoral and democracy systems, they adopted tribal male dominancy systems, traditional and cultural norms, and practices, these systems, and practices are against women equal participation and pushing back women due to that the politics, democracy and public life spaces for women are shrinking.
Women’s political participation in Baluchistan confronts a number of social, cultural, political, religious, governance & systematic barriers that hinder their empowerment and increasing inequities, women lack political education and barriers from the state institutions, political parties, families & society.
Women are facing social barriers & cultural norms from families, society, political parties, and state institutions, women without their fathers, spouses or siblings independently cannot come outside their homes, cannot registers their CNIC, cannot enlist their vote in the voter’s list, cannot cast their vote and cannot contest their candidacy