Promising Women Leaders From Khyber Attend Training On Promoting Votes Without Violence

Promising women leaders from Khyber attend training on promoting votes without violence

PESHAWAR, Sep 21 (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 23rd Sep, 2023 ) :A day-long training of trainers for "Building the Capacity of Community Women Leaders to Promote Votes without Violence" was organized in Peshawar.

According to a press release issued here on Thursday, the master training, arranged by the women rights organization Potohar Organization for Development Advocacy (PODA), was attended by 10 promising women leaders from the district Khyber, including minority representatives, communities and women heading community-based groups, ex-councilors, women journalists, social activists, and students.

Dr. Adnan Arshad, Project Manager PODA, shared the project overview and said that "Violence Against Women in Elections (VAWE) is a pervasive challenge in Pakistan that undermines women's equal access to the democratic process as voters, candidates, polling staff, polling agents, and elected leaders".

He added that "it is not acceptable that millions of Pakistani women are still considered missing voters because they were not able to a get CNIC or register as voters. He urged the trainee women participants to help women register as voters in their districts".

Raheema Sultana, project coordinator, led a session on "Why are there missing women voters in Pakistan" and facilitated the participants to brainstorm on 'why women are not able to make CNICs and register themselves as voters'.

She explained that now the NADRA has made it very easy for women to get a CNIC. She shared the NADRA website and also helped the participants to go through a sample NADRA form in the training manual and explained how we can make changes in our CNIC in an easy way.

She said "If there are more women who know about the importance of peaceful elections that will give more women the confidence to come out and vote and also run in elections as candidates". Raheema also shared that the Election Commission of Pakistan has a District Voter education Committee (DEVAC) that is required to include women as members and to create awareness on how women can register as voters. She encouraged the participants to become members of DEVAC in their districts to work closely with ECP.

Shahana Akhtar, the first female election officer for Khyber district, explained that special measures have been taken by the ECP to enhance the peaceful participation of women in the political process in the district. The Election Commission launched a CNIC/Voter Registration Campaign to decrease the gender gap in the electoral rolls by increasing the registration of women as voters.

Advocate Nida Khan, Peshawar High Court Bar Association led the session and discussed the important sections of the Elections Act, 2017.

She explained that "Election Rules 2017 prohibit the use of force and harassment of all voters and have a special section that says women should not be harassed as voters or candidates during the electoral processes". Multiple sections of this act speak of women's political participation as voters and candidates.

Shahid Khan, regional coordinator of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), shared that the training encompassed not only the importance of promoting vote without violence but also delved into the growing concern of cyber-crime within the electoral process.

The expert trainer, Raheema Sultana from PODA, adeptly sensitized the attendees to the pressing issues surrounding women's participation in elections, the threats posed by cyber-crime, and the remedies to mitigate these challenges.

One of the participants, Sumaiya Afridi, a women councilor from district Khyber, shared that "women in her constituency always feel uncomfortable during the process of casting their vote. First, because the polling station is far away from their village, they have to make efforts to get proper transportation. She said I am an empowered woman, but even I find it difficult to vote. Think of the other rural women in remote villages who cannot make these efforts. That is why many women from my village cannot vote and did not vote in the 2018 election", Ms. Sumaiya added.

The participants showed special interest in the discussions on 'Gender Gap' in the electoral process, measures that should be taken to reduce the gap, and identifying examples of gender-based violence in political processes, including related harassment types, reasons, effects, protection, and legal remedies.

She also shared what steps women should take to challenge cyber-crimes during electoral processes and shared the FIA email address to report cyber-crimes including hate crimes against women and the character assassination of female candidates.

The master trainers would now start preparing to deliver this training in different parts of Khyber district to reach women, transgender people, and women with disabilities in marginalized areas where less than 10% of women voted in the last election and those polling stations showed less number of female voters.