November 15th, 2020
By Umar Bacha
In the hotly contested Gilgit Baltistan elections today, there is little space for women candidates, but a few emboldened politicians are determined to win.
Sadia Danish is among the few women candidates contesting the Gilgit Baltistan Legislative Assembly elections from her native constituency GBLA 18 in Diamer. Its going to be a tough battle for her as in her constituency the turnout of women voters has only been 10 to 25 percent.
Sadia Danish is contesting on the PPP seat, as their candidate in Tangir Valley and she is determined to fight for women’s rights if she is elected, so that women are not derived of their fundamental rights.
“My priority would be to ensure that women get basic health facilities and primary education. Women should also be able to exercise their right to vote, “ she says while spelling out her commitments to her voters.
But for Sadia, the biggest challenge will be to get women voters to the election booth, she says that if women are allowed to vote by their communities, there will be a larger turnout on election day. Sadia says once she is elected she will fight for more participation of women in the electoral process.
“I had lodged a formal complaint in the Election Commission during the previous by-elections because women were barred from casting their votes in our constituency. So the Election Commission did take action on my complaint and atleast 7 to 10% of the women were allowed to cast their vote.
They must have issued ID cards to these women then,” Sadia explains drawing attention to the fact that a lot of women do not even have their national identity cards made. Sadia says this time around she would strive to get the women out of houses to cast theirvote.
The other women contesting in these elections are: Jamiat-I-Ulema Islam ( F) candidate Mehnaz Wali from Hunza, PTI’s candidate Amina Ansar from district Ghanchy and an independent candidate Shehnaz Bhuttu from Ghizar. However JUIF’s candidate Mehnaz Wali recently withdrew from the electoral race.
A young and bold Shehnaz Bhutto who is contesting from GBLA 20, Ghizar, a backward area, says she joined politics to improve the condition of her people and for the empowerment of the women of the area.
“I want to make people aware of their rights so that we can struggle for our fundamental freedoms. We have been devoid of them so far. The women of my area have a lot of skills, but they have no opportunity. If I get elected I will try and create opportunities for women to utilize their skills and therefore to create employment for them. It’s a male dominated society, but people always desire change, especially the women. Since I was born and brought up here, people of my area know me and support me. I am representing the women of Gilgit Baltistan and will try and give them a voice,” Shehnaz Bhutto tells Voicepk.net