Regardless of political divide, the lawmakers from different political parties came together on Thursday to reiterate enhancement of women's participation in the electoral process, and stressed on the stakeholders including the government, civil society, general public and political parties to play their due role in ensuring for women their right to franchise.
This rare show of unity was demonstrated at a seminar on National Voters Day 2019 held under the theme 'Closing the Gender Gap in the Electoral Rolls,' organised by Pakistan Institute for Parliamentary Services (PIPS), in collaboration with Women Parliamentary Caucus (WPC) and Tabeer.
Speaking on the occasion, Secretary WPC and Member National Assembly from the ruling party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Munaza Hassan announced to extend her complete support towards the cause of increasing registration of women voters in Pakistan.
"It is impossible to accomplish development goals if women are denied meaningful political participation. If women citizens are denied full equality, no country can reach its optimal potential," she said.
Countries that are succeeding at present have involved women in the decision-making processes and that is improving their living standards and ensuring development, she added.
"While the state has a responsibility to put in effort, individual women also have a responsibility on them to use their right to vote and play a rightful role as a key agent of change," the MNA said.
"Society and systems are largely patriarchal. Women due to different reasons including misogyny are left out, excluded, demeaned or undermined. This needs to be changed. Whole society and system must be made effective and this can be done only through political machinery," she said.
Other MNAs including Dr Shazia Sobia Aslam Soomro from Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Shahida Akhtar Ali from Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) and Mohsin Shahnawaz Ranjha from Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) also shared views during the event.
They offered their complete support to Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA), civil society, public circles and political parties for initiating and facilitating any move that aims at ensuring the participation of women voters in the electoral process, which, they agreed, is vital to promoting and strengthening democracy in Pakistan.
The ECP has declared the December 7 as National Voters Day. Each year on National Voters Day, the ECP says, it organises programmes at the national, regional, provincial, and district levels. The purpose of National Voters Day is to encourage greater participation in the electoral process.
This year, the ECP celebrated National Voters Day on December 5 due to the retirement of Chief Election Commissioner former Justice Sardar Muhammad Raza the same day.