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Friday, 25 May, 2001, 13:36 GMT 14:36 UK
Are women quotas in Pakistani politics workable?
As Pakistan prepares to hold local elections, many women across the country are entering politics for the first time.
All the local councils being created under staggered elections will have six out of 21 seats reserved for women; and in the second round of elections held last month, women made up a sixth of all candidates.
General Musharraf has said his vision is to build up democracy from the grassroots, so will this latest measure bring about a real shift in power?
Will it succeed in bringing women into the political arena, or will conservatism prevail?
How do such reforms square with the army's stifling of national parties?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
Yes women should be encouraged in politics so that they can represent and try to lift other women's conditions in the region. But both men and women should have to submit to special background checks, like education, criminal, marital life, dealing with their children, neighbours and society, as well as social activity backgrounds. This will build trust and confidence among people and the community will grow.
I believe that providing seats to women is a positive step forward.
They certainly cannot perform more poorly than their male predecessors and hopefully they
will have the moral courage to tackle the really tough issues, such as land reform, child labour and human rights.
Praise should be given to General Musharraf for trying something different.
Azeem Diwan, USA
Allowing women to enter politics is pretty meaningless unless and until Pakistan returns to the international community of democratic nations. The country, as currently constituted, is a military dictatorship. In such an environment, the role of women will always remain at the mercy of the military dictator.
Pakistani women have a lot of talent and they
have the potential to achieve a lot and make Pakistan
a much, much better country.
We have examples like Shaista Ikramullah and our current ambassador to the USA.
Women make up 50% of the population of Pakistan. This is a really bold and positive move to give them the opportunity to participate in decision making.
Suchin Gupta, India/ USA
Surprising move, considering that Pakistan's Taleban buddies would probably prefer that Muslim women spend their lives hidden from any make human being other than the husband. Pure window-dressing in a country that never has, and never will, understand what democracy is all about.
How can you expect women to play a role in a country where the literacy level is low?
Of course women should be encouraged in politics. But I do think there is a danger in thinking that introducing women to parliament itself can eradicate conservatism. Instead, we need women in politics who will stand up for women's rights, and lobby for progressive causes, just as we need men who will do so.
Pausali Sinha, India
Yes, women must enter the political front, but they must have a share in policy-making and decision-making. In the recent past we have been having women MPs, ministers and even a woman prime minister. Sadly they could do nothing to improve the status of women in the country. How much space will be allowed to the new lot of women politicians in the policy-making and decision-making, has yet to be seen.
They should be given their true rights according to Islam.
By nature woman is less corrupt than man.
In Pakistan democracy is doomed from the onset because of the tribal, ethnic and religious divide. The women candidates have mostly come from the same families as most of the male candidates, that is, the tribal sardars and large landowners. The gender of the members in these councils will not change anything, as the background of these female candidates is the same as the corrupt male candidates. As far as the Generals are concerned, they have always lived in a fool's paradise. They are themselves responsible for the general mess in Pakistan. Their actions are more like a butcher performing surgery on human beings. They have not a clue what they are doing to an already down-and-out country.
Pakistani women will bring a completely different and welcome perspective to the politics of that great country.
All power to these brave women!
I am not sure how people with "Taleban" mentality
in Pakistan will react! Nowadays their weight is increasing in the day-to-day life of a Pakistani.
I think it's a very positive move towards political stability to introduce women into politics. This will lead to a radical change in Pakistani society towards working women. Now Pakistani women will take an active part in a male-dominated society for positive development of the country.
In Pakistan women are like cattle. Men own these cattle and define or rather dictate their destiny. It is the need of the day to introduce a forceful quota system and allocation percentage for female representation in government, so a breakthrough may be achieved in putting Pakistani women into the mainstream of political decision making.
There have always been women in Pakistan politics - both as leaders and as parliamentarians. The only difference this time seems to be the numbers in which they are entering into the elections. All power to them and to the people of Pakistan they wish to represent.
I would say reform has nothing to do with religion. If General Musharraf has a vision to build democracy from its grassroots, he must also have the vision to fix the problems the country has. It's about time Third World countries moved on in their ideological states.
Citizens in Pakistan must wake up to changing their environment for themselves and not just through the political powers. I believe it's the only way Pakistan can have success.
Umair Rehman, Canada
From the start of Islam, women played an active part in society (as exemplified by the Prophet's wife, Khadija, who was a successful businesswomen who employed the Prophet) and in political decision making. It is only un-Islamic cultural practices that have held them back. It is good to see the Pakistani government reviving the spirit of Islam in this way.
I think women bring a certain sensibility in thinking process that our politicians lack. They are less likely to react immediately to a certain suggestion/comment like men do, relatively speaking. The quota of 33% will ensure that the local legislatures will have that sensibility and understanding of women's issues. So, I think it will be good for our country.
Shazia Bhatti, England
I think allowing women to enter politics is a good move that will do good to Pakistan as a country. If women are allowed in eminent positions then radicalism will be curbed. I think acceptance of modern world values will help Pakistan to achieve stability. Good luck to them.
Yes, I think women can work in certain criteria. Islam has always allowed woman to work IF the man somehow can't work.
Islam gave rights to women before the British did. So it's about time we realise injustice to the women of third world countries. It's about time to right wrongs.
14 Aug 00 | South Asia
Musharraf unveils local election plan
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