Islamabad—Women activists from AJK hailing from different walks of life demanded government and political parties to pay deeper attention on political empowerment of women in AJK. The demands were made in a roundtable titled “Women’s Political Participation in AJ&K: Challenges and Opportunities” – in the context of upcoming elections and was organised by Kashmir Institute of International Relations (KIIR).
While introducing the topic, Director Women Wing KIIR, Ms Atia Anwer Zoon said that our political parties needto create spaces for women in politics and promote equal participation. She said that women of AJK are educated and are motivated to play a role in politics but due to lack of spaces in politics, family support and cultural hindrances they are unable to harness their potential. She also said that narrative of women on politics in AJK is missing and a revival of local government could create lot of spaces for women to participate in the active politics.
Deputy Speaker AJK assembly Shaheen Kosar Dar said that, she has been persistent and worked really hard in active politics to reach to this level. “I had not had big financial support, neither I belonged to a political family I worked hard, remained persistent and created my own space in a male dominated society” said Shaheen. She said that her government was the first government in Pakistan which created women parliamentary caucus in AJK, and were regularly monitoring issues of domestic violence and abuses in AJK.
She also stated that her government has been giving greater attention to economic empowerment of women in AJK and in future they are installing mobile health unit covering almost all the remote villages of AJK to address basic maternity health issues of women.
Sectary General Muslim Conference Mrs.Mehr-un-Nisa stressed on the importance of women’s political participation in AJK and opined that it’s the need of time that women should aspire for taking up leadership roles. She said that the presence of women in leadership positions can play a crucial role to inform all policy, planning and decision making in order to make it more gender sensitive.Secretary General Jammu Kashmir Peoples Party Nabila Irshad said that women have to reclaim their lost spaces by exerting themselves and remaining active in social and political activities. While narrating her own experience she said that my family stood with me and they always supported me in pursuing politics as career.
President Women Wing, from Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front Tahira Touqeer while appreciating the KIIR’s effort called for bringing in laws to ensure women participation in politics in AJK. She stated that it has been a great challenge to do politics in a patriarchal society and we need to pay attention that how more educated and informed women can join politics and become active in socio-political fabric.
Educationist Ms Rukhsana Khan from University of AJK Muzaffarabad said that we need to challenge the existing narrative of defined role in society. Women need to be more proactive in claiming their spaces in spheres of life and educated women should raise voice for equal opportunities.
The round table was attended by almost 50 women from various political parties, civil society organisations, media, lawyers, and students wherein they all unanimously called for increasing women representation in legislative assembly and in upcoming local elections.
While concluding Director Program Atia Anwar Zoon put forward suggestion to the deputy speaker AJKassembly to revise the existing syllabus of schools and to make it more gender sensitive that could help in brining social change.