Oxfam organizes football tournament to Highlight Women’s Right to Vote in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD : A three-day women’s football tournament organised to celebrate women’s leadership and participation in public life and to raise awareness about the importance of the right to vote among youth concluded in Islamabad on Saturday.

The event ‘Play to Vote’ was a collaboration between Oxfam in Pakistan, Election Commission of Pakistan, Rising Stars and Bedari. Over three-days women football teams from Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar and Rawalpindi played six matches which attracted a large number of women and girls from the twin-cities.

Speaking at the closing ceremony, Oxfam Country Director Mohammed Qazilbash said Oxfam’s She Can Lead project has been designed to work in the lead up to the pre-election context and enhance women’s political participation.

“As the second civilian to civilian transfer of power in Pakistan’s history, the 2018 election is an important moment in Pakistan’s democratic journey and through our efforts we hope to ensure Pakistani women play a meaningful role in it,” he said.

Election Commision of Pakistan (ECP) Additional Director General Nighat Siddique discussed the measures being taken by the ECP to ensure women participate fully in the electoral process. She said, “The ECP is working hard to improve women voters’ turnout in the upcoming elections. The ECP has taken steps to increase the number of women registered as voters and we are positive that greater numbers of Pakistani women will be voting this year.”

Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) Team Leader Rukhsana Shama said her organisation is working to support women’s participation in public life and both sports and politics are areas where women’s role should be encouraged.

“Women rights are human rights and all of us, including me, have to ensure that we adhere to our constitutional commitments and work together towards elimination of all forms of discrimination against women, minorities, transgender Pakistanis and differently-abled persons.”

Pakistan Institute of Parliamentary Services (PIPS) Director Zafarullah Khan said, “Sports teach us how to play by the rules and not to turn spirited competition into lingering animosity. Through sports such as football and meaningful participation in politics we can create cohesive communities, where women play an equal role”.

Pakistan Women Team Captain Hajera Khan expressed hope that when more women are in parliament, more women will also be seen in sports fields. “When women are in positions of power, others will be encouraged to participate in all areas of public life”.