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Ordinary women yet to break Pak ceiling

world Updated: Apr 18, 2008 16:20 IST
Pakistani women

Pakistani women have again gate-crashed into the men's club in the parliament, but most of those elected recently are either from well-connected political families or replace male family members who could not contest the polls for some reason.

In a country where women contestants sometimes cannot even address men in election rallies, it is difficult for ordinary women workers with political ambitions to break the ceiling.

According to Azra Fazal Pechuho, who contested on a PPP ticket, women have to portray and perpetuate certain social stereotypes or society does not accept them.

"I have a strong political background so the going was not very difficult for me. Also, since I am Asif Ali Zardari's sister, people respected me," she told a round-table conference of women parliamentarians organised here by an NGO.
Pechuho said that it was more difficult for younger women to campaign during polls.

"Saira Afzal Tarar of the PML-N, who also made it on a general seat," said she made it a point to address only the women's section as men heard her from across a partition.

"The only time I addressed men directly was when party chief Nawaz Sharif was visiting my constituency," she said.
Of the 342 members in the current National Assembly or lower house of parliament, 75 are women though only 15 were elected on a general ticket. The remaining 60 came in on reserved seats.

Even as their numbers are going up in parliament, the fact is that many women who do actually contest elections are wives or relatives of known politicians, said a report by the NGO Liberal Forum.