On 22nd, February, 2018, SPARC conducted a seminar on minorities and electoral reforms at Peshawar. The seminar was organized under SPARC’s project – Strengthening Diversity and Democracy through Minorities Engagement in Electoral and Political Processes.
The seminar was attended by Community Action Groups comprising of Christian men and women, representatives from FAFEN, lawyers, civil society activists, elected representatives and media persons. Sharing the findings of the baseline assessment, Asiya Arif said out of 423 respondents interviewed in the Kohati Gate locality, 75 percent of the male participants had acquired birth certificates whereas only 10.27 percent of the females had their birth certificates.
She said with regard to voter registration, “it was found that a sizeable majority of 86 percent from the Christian community was registered to vote with more men compared to women while 21.6 percent women were not registered to vote while 2.25 percent were unaware of their voting status”.
Zahid Khattak from Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) said; “Peshawar was one of the districts with lowest women voter registration against a population of 2100,719 women as of the 2017 census, only 663,192 are registered to cast votes”.
He urged both men and women participants to get CNIC registration till April 2018 to be eligible to cast their votes in the 2018 elections. Speaking on the occasion, Arif Yusuf, advisor to chief minister, said that government wished to see more political participation of women in the upcoming elections.
Earlier, a similar seminar was held in Sindh where representatives of various political parties and rights activists called for unanimously passing a resolution for the right of dual voting and proper legislation for protection of life and property and sacred places of citizens belonging to minority communities.
Reaffirming their commitment to protect the rights of religious minorities, they pledged to work towards a Pakistan where all citizens would be treated equally, regardless of caste, creed or religion. They said this at a seminar on ‘Enabling environment for minorities to participate in electoral and political process in Tando Allah Yar Sindh.
SPARC with the financial support of The Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI) has been entrusted to implement the project “Strengthening Diversity and Democracy through Minority Engagement in Electoral and Political Processes” in two districts each of Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The project aims to create awareness on minority rights to empower minorities to exercise their right to vote in the 2018 general elections and strengthen the capacity of minority parliamentarians to better represent their constituencies. Project envisions the community members, community action groups and the local representatives/parliamentarians to play supportive roles in the effective implementation of project objectives Community Action Group (CAG) and Elected Representatives SCHEME: A participatory approach to protect minority rights through vigilant citizenry and responsive political system.