ISLAMABAD - The National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW) has demanded its representation in the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to observe the electoral process and sought setting up complaint desks in sensitive constituencies to redress any violations of women’s right to vote in May 11 elections.

Demanding the induction of female staff in the ECP, the NCSW Tuesday also expressed disappointment over the failure of political parties to agree on a minimum number of female participation (10 percent) in a constituency for validating the poll in it.

Chairperson NCSW Khawar Mumtaz shared her concerns regarding women participation in upcoming elections at a press conference. She also expressed dismay over the low number of tickets awarded to women on general seats by political parties and called for ensuring the safety of women to vote without fear and not allow anyone else to determine who is entitled to vote or not.

She also criticized political parties for ignoring most active former women Parliamentarians in the lists of candidates for reserved seats for the next Parliament.   Khawar said the appointment of inexperienced candidates reflects the priorities of political leadership. She said the Commission has been demanding a proper mechanism for long and will review all rules and legislation around this process in future.

Mumtaz demanded representation of NCSW in ECP to observe the process involved in the preparation, organization and monitoring of election and setting up complaint desks in sensitive constituencies to redress any violations of women’s right to vote.

She urged ECP to urgently announce arrangements for polling for the large number of displaced persons from tribal areas and currently residing in camps and also induct and employ female staff in the ECP.

She said the Commission is concerned that a large number of women in remote rural areas and urban slums have not been issued CNICs and will not be able to vote despite a strong desire to do so. The insecurity in some areas like the 42 ‘no go’ areas in Karachi, or prohibition of women’s voting by ‘panchyats’ or clerics in places Tor Ghar and parts of Sindh tantamount to denial of women’s democratic and constitutional right to choose their representatives, said Khawar.

The Commission resolved to set up an Election Complaint Cell to receive complaints from women, during and post-election process. Khawar said Complaint Cell would also cater to the complaints of transgender. 

Replying to a question the Chairperson said NCSW members would join monitoring teams in select areas in association with other monitors/observers, and a delegation would meet ECP to seek resolution of its concerns.