PARACHINAR: Ali Begum is the only women candidate on NA-46 who trying her best to convince women to come out and cast their vote.
Contesting elections by a woman in ultra-conservative society like tribal areas is no easy but she finds it convenient to visit every house and ask it women as well as men for vote.
She is the only female candidate throughout tribal areas contesting elections on 12 National Assembly seats.
Around one million women out of 2.5 million total voters in tribal districts will poll their votes in general elections 2018 scheduled to be held on July 25.
In last general election in 2013, ratio of women’ votes was unsatisfactory but this time the Election Commission has made special arrangements to ensure more and more women could vote.
There are some elements that want to stop women from casting their votes but the Election Commission has warned elders and candidates against any attempt to bar women from casting their votes.
The warning came after Trust for Democratic Education and Accountability in its report claimed that agreements were being made to bar women from exercising their votes in parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and erstwhile Fata.
The ECP warned that action against such people would be taken under Section 9 Election Act 2017 and elections would be declared null and voice in those areas along with Rs0.1 million fine and three year imprisonment.
The constituencies where elders and candidates were reportedly trying to stop women from casting their votes are NA-26 Nowshera, Dheri area in NA-21 Mardan, NA-11 Kohistan, NA-21 Battgram, NA-41 Bajaur, NA-43 Khyber.
The ECP warned its candidates to refrain from such agreements and directed them to ensure women come out for polling their votes. The ECP directed concerned district retuning officers and returning officers to take notice of agreements.
Talking to TNN, Jehangir Khan, a voter in South Waziristan, said that it would be difficult for women to vote in such a conservative society. “I personally believe that women should not come out for others benefit as those who will win will not return till next elections,” he said.
Besides, TNN has talked to people in seven tribal district to know what they think about importance of women votes. Dost Muhammad Khan, a voter from North Waziristan, said that committees have been formed that hold meetings with people to convince them to send women for casting their votes.
“Even educated women throughout the district have been visiting each and every house to create awareness among fellow women regarding importance of vote,” he said.
Gul Afzal, a candidate contesting election from Bajaur, said that there was no facilities provided to women voters in women polling stations like water, chairs and bathrooms due to which women turn out remained very low. “The more you facilitate women, the more they would come out and poll their votes,” said Afzal.
He advised the ECP to make proper arrangements for women at the polling stations if it wanted more women to poll their votes and warned that women would not show up if this time they were not facilitated.
Ali Begum is convincing women in her constituency to come of their houses and vote for betterment of their areas.