Participate in politics, Pakistani daily exhorts women

It is a curious paradox that while women’s profile in politics has become more visible in Pakistan, it seems to be eroding at the grassroots, notes a Pakistani daily exhorting more women to take part in politics.

An editorial in the News International Tuesday said the women’s rally staged by the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) Sunday in Karachi is noteworthy since the crowd of tens of thousands comprised mainly women.

"While Karachi’s urban character has played a role in this, the fact remains that the country has not seen women in large numbers on the side of progressive causes for a long time," it said.

"In fact, with a few exceptions, the demands for which women have come out on the streets in recent years have been considered regressive," the editorial added while citing the example of Karachi recently seeing women from a religious party protesting against Valentine’s Day.

The daily said it was "a curious paradox that although women’s profile in politics has become more visible in Pakistan, it seems to be eroding at the grassroots".

"Recent years have seen the formulation of crucial pro-women legislation and women have taken their place as equal partners in the power corridors. Political parties need to take matters further in this direction," it said.

Admitting that mobilising women in "a society where in some areas even their right to vote is questioned, and where public spaces are far from female-friendly, is not easy", the editorial suggested that one way of countering such attitudes is to raise the level of women’s political participation.

"Progressively inclined women need to remind themselves that their invisibility only provides more space to retrogressive elements," it added.

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