FEMALE CANDIDATES WANT TO CHANGE PAKISTAN’S POLITICAL SCENE

Karishna Kumari Kohli is most certainly, a woman of substance.

The female senator from Pakistan's Sindh province, who was once a bonded labourer during part of her childhood, is on a mission to help other women break free from ignorance and poverty.

She believes that if she can make it in the tough world out there, so can other more educated women.

In an interview with Xinhua news agency, Kohli has predicted her entry into the senate will open new doors for women as they will see her as a role model and beacon of hope to achieve their dreams.

A few months ago, she became a focus of the local media and the people when she became the first woman lawmaker from a low-caste, non-Muslim tribe, into the upper house of the Muslim majority country.

"I am a daughter of a poor tenant and spent a part of my childhood as a bonded labourer, but my hard work and honesty to my cause of changing my life and the life of people around me has landed me in the country's senate.

"If I can do it, other women who are more educated and privileged than me can do it even better than me," she said.

A few months on, a woman from the same Thar district where Kohli belongs, is all set to contest elections for the provincial assembly of Sindh, scheduled to be held on July 25 across the country.

A tailor by profession, the provincial assembly candidate, Sunita Parmar said in a viral video on social media that she was keen to protect the interests of women and work to release them from the shackles of poverty and ignorance.

"I don't have anything against anyone or any political party. My focus is clear, I want to change the condition of women in my area. I want to work for girls' education and play my role in providing basic health facilities to them. Political parties should accept women's existence and capabilities, as it is the need of the hour," she said in the video.

The country's election commission said that this year, political parties had fielded women candidates in conservative areas.

Hameeda Shahid is one of such candidates from the Dir district of the country's northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

Women were previously not allowed to leave the house to poll their vote in elections, but Shahid is determined she will change all that by motivating women to stand up for their rights and choose the suitable candidate for the future.

In a recent interview with local media, Shahid said women should join politics so that their fellows could detail their problems to them, which they could not relate to male lawmakers.

The mother of six said she did not have any experience in politics. Nevertheless, if she wins the election, she will work for women's rights in her area.

According to the country's law, it is mandatory for all political parties to allocate at least five per cent of its seats to female candidates.

The recently released figures of the election commission shows that 11,885 candidates will contest the July 25 elections, out of which there are 305 female candidates making about 5.2 per cent of the total ticket holders contesting from political parties.

Apart from this, there are 60 reserved seats for women in the country's national assembly for which women from different political parties are selected according to the number of seats they won.

Tanzeela Mazhar, a journalist from Islamabad, told Xinhua that despite the fact that women were contesting, the chances of victory for most of the candidates were slim.

"Political parties were sure about their defeat in certain constituencies and to fulfill the five per cent mandatory quota for women representatives, they fielded women from those constituencies while keeping the strong constituencies for the male candidates."

Despite that, the election commission said the forthcoming elections would see the highest number of female candidates contesting for national assembly seats in Pakistan's electoral history.

This year, as many as 171 female candidates will be in the running involving 272 seats of the National Assembly across the country.

In last general election in 2013, 135 women contested the poll. Khalida Bano, a woman campaigner of a male candidate from the country's Rawalpindi city, told Xinhua that the role of women in Pakistani politics had remained very important as the late two-time prime minister Benazir Bhutto was the role model for young women who wanted to join politics.

Bano, 68, who has been active in politics for the past 28 years, said in Pakistani society, women could spread more awareness in people as compared to their male counterparts.

Men are not allowed to enter people's houses. "They can only campaign in offices or commercial areas whereas we visit homes and tell men, women and kids on the importance of elections and the positive changes our candidates can bring in the area after being elected.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK