Call for citizens’ role in safeguarding human rights

Lahore: Participants at a consultative forum stressed the need for greater consultation with stakeholders on improving the representation of women and minorities in elected bodies.
They were speaking at the forum ‘Realising Civil and Political Rights of Women, Minorities and Youth’, organised by Democracy Reporting International (DRI) in collaboration with Punjab Youth Parliamentary Caucus (PYPC), a press release said yesterday.
Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) General Secretary IA Rehman lamented the regressive trend in women’s political participation, recalling that two women contested general seats from Muslims Leagues platform in Lahore in 1945. He called for an end to structural violence against women and for the civil society to revive its efforts to improve the political participation of women.
Punjab Education Minister Rana Mashhood said that the way forward for improving the participation of women, youth and minorities is to have transparent political processes and ensuring that all citizens are treated equally.
Vickas Mokal, Chairperson PYPC, stressed upon citizen to be more vigilant and hold elected representatives to account for protection of human rights. Panelists also urged for greater political and civic of engagement of youth and promoting platforms for political dialogue among youth as an alternative to banned student unions. Youth should be seen as partners in the political development of the country, he added.
PML-N MPA Mary Gill said that political parties should give 5% tickets to minority candidates on general seats, adding that at least 5% representation of minorities on reserved seat in all legislative houses, including at local government level, should be required by law.
Earlier, Hassan Nasir Mirbahar, Team Leader of DRI’s project underscored that the consolidation of democracy requires the realisation of the rights of all citizens. For this purpose, parliamentarians and civil society need to work together and this consultative forum provides one such opportunity.
The forum also called for an increase in the percentage of seats reserved for women to at least 30% in line with UN targets, increasing the representation of women in decision-making positions within political parties, election management and government bodies and firm measures to eliminate the barring of women from voting.
Other MPAs who attended the forum included; Dr. Nosheen Ahmed (PTI), DR. Farzana Nazeer (PML-N), Azma Bukhari (PML-N), Farah Manzoor (PML-N), Shunila Ruth (PTI), Raheela Khadim Hussain (PML-N) and others.