ISLAMABAD: Speakers at a roundtable discussion Wednesday called for taking collaborative actions for implementing a comprehensive gender strategy for enhanced participation of persons with disabilities, especially women in 2018 general election.
The ‘Roundtable Discussion on Political Participation of Women with Disabilities,’ organised by Special Talent Exchange Programme (STEP) in collaboration with the High Commission of Canada, Women’s Parliamentary Caucus and National Forum of Women with Disabilities, was attended by representatives from the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), national and international development organisations, Pakistan Institute of Parliamentary Services (PIPS), Pakistan Alliance for Inclusive Elections and leading disabled people’s organisations (DPOs).
The discussion primarily focused on enhancing political participation of women with disabilities was also addressed by Perry Calderwood, High Commissioner of Canada for Pakistan.
“Canada believes that the full participation of women in democratic processes is critical for a legitimate and inclusive government,” said Calderwood, adding that Canada welcomed the efforts of the forum to seek greater access for women with disabilities.
The forum concluded with recommendations, emphasising on taking specific collaborative actions to make an inclusive Pakistan elections regime, besides developing and implementing a comprehensive gender strategy by the ECP aiming at enhanced participation of persons with disabilities especially women in 2018 general elections.
It also called for building the capacity of DPOs and empowering their members through trainings on the electoral system, government structure, and basic organizational and advocacy skills, helping them build the political profile of DPOs and enabling organizations to get their issues onto the political agenda.
The forum also extended its support to the government institutions such as legislatures and the ECP to create legal and regulatory frameworks that provide an opportunity for increasing political participation of persons with disabilities and encourage partnerships with DPOs.
It also recommended inclusion of the people with disabilities in broad-based civil society coalitions, like Pakistan Alliance for Inclusive Elections (PAIE), to conduct domestic election observation, voter education campaigns and assistance for developing an inclusive elections regime.
It also endorsed the idea of setting up of ‘Pakistan Alliance for Inclusive Elections’ to address the issues related to participation of persons with disabilities in political process in collaboration with the ECP.
It also emphasised on assisting political parties to conduct meaningful outreach to persons with disabilities when creating election campaign strategies and developing policy positions and to encourage parties to include persons with disabilities as candidates and in leadership roles.
The forum also underscored the need for taking actions for issuance of secure national identification cards and register to vote, reasonable accommodations such as assistance in the voting booth, tactile ballot guides, low voting booths, magnifying glasses and large grip pens and accessible infrastructure such as ramps and building layouts that allow for easy maneuver by those who use assistive devices.