available languages: english March 16, 2016

Conference calls for maximum political participation of women and minorities

High-level state representatives and civil society activists agreed that more participation of women, minorities and the youth in Pakistan’s political process was key for strengthening democracy and improving the standards of society in one of the world’s most populous countries. This was the main conclusion of the two-day conference on “Political Participation of Women, Minorities and Youth”, organised 14-15 March 2016 in Islamabad by Democracy Reporting International (DRI) in collaboration with Women Parliamentary Caucus of Sindh and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab Youth Parliamentary Caucus.

Participants stressed that Pakistan had made considerable progress in strengthening democracy, but also agreed on the need for further substantial reforms on the national and provincial levels. This should ensure political empowerment of women, youth and minorities as required by Pakistan’s Constitution and international human rights treaties ratified by State. Speakers pointed at the fact that complying with human rights and labour rights would secure preferential access to EU markets under the GSP+ scheme. Participants debated the representation of women and minorities in the National Assembly and the Senate as well as in government institutions and on electoral reforms for improving political participation before the next general elections.

High-level speakers included Sardar Muhammad Yousuf, Federal Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony, Aga Siraj Durrani, Speaker of the Sindh Assembly, Ms Meher Taj Roghani, Deputy Speaker of the KP Assembly, Ms Syeda Shahla Raza, Deputy Speaker of the Sindh Assembly, Mr Sardar Mustafa Khan, Minister for Local Government Balochistan, Mr Thomas Drew CMG, designate British High Commissioner to Pakistan, Justice ® Ali Nawaz Chohan, Chair of the National Commission for Human Rights, Ms Joanna Reid, Head o fDFID Pakistan, Ms Neelum Khan Torru, Chairperson of Provincial Commission on Status of Women, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Dr Farzana Bari, human and women rights activists.

The conference was organised in the context of the DFID-funded programme “Strengthening Parliament’s Role in the Promotion of Human Rights in Pakistan: Democratic Stability Through Responsive Elected Institution” implemented by DRI since May 2015.