By Fazal Rehman and Said Rasool Betani
PESHAWAR, 13 September: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has given more representation to women, compared to past governments, in the the current local bodies system. Out of 41,762 successful candidates, 6,678 women were chosen on reserved seats in the local bodies elections in KP which were held on 30 May, 2015. One among them is 22 years old Fatima Nosherwan who was elected as district councillor on the women’s special seat. Fatima is central secretary for the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) Females’ Youth Wing. Interestingly, her mother, Najma Nosherwan is an office-holder of the Pakistan Muslim League-a strong political rival of PTI. Fatima belongs to Swat and currently is a student of a private law college in Islamabad. As a Councillor and PTI leader, she aims to promote women education, arrange separate transport facility and and create business opportunities for women in male dominant Peshawar district.
TNN correspondent Fazal Rehman and Said Rasool Betani conducted a detailed discussion with Fatima about her personal and political life and goals. Below are some of the excerpts from her interview.
TNN: What inspired you to join politics?
Fatima: I was a first year student when a PTI leader spotted me during a debate contest in my college. The PTI leader got impressed with my style of speaking and communication skills and she invited me to join the party. Fatima said her mother was also a politician but she did have no much interest in politics at that time. “Then started thinking about it and ultimately decided to jump into students’ politics after being encouraged and supported by close friend,” she said, adding that she started her political career from the platform of Insaf Students Federation.
TNN: As a political figure, what do you want to achieve in life?
Fatima: Most of the politicians I have seen in my life do not fulfill their promises made with people. I want to change this trend by taking practical steps for the well being of the people from my constituency. I want to utilise the platform of PTI for serving the masses in true sense. I want to work for the rights of women. Belonging to Swat, I know very well the problems of womenfolk in a patriarchal Pakhtun society. I want to become as a role model for our Pakhtun sisters in the field of politics. I belong to an area where women are not allowed to go outside home. But how will we create political awareness among women if we remain confined inside our homes? The platform provided to me by the PTI enabled me to become a district councillor in such a young age. I am committed to carry forward the mission of the PTI chief Imran Khan. We will implement our development planning for women.
TNN: What are the main difficulties for women in politics?
Fatima: Security is the main issue for women in politics. Women in Pakistan, especially in FATA and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, had to think twice before stepping outside their homes due to security concerns. Harassment of women was widespread earlier, but now the society is gradually acknowledging the rights of women. Our religion Islam has also given equal rights to women. Women are capable of working shoulder to shoulder with men in every walk of life.
TNN: The PTI also indulges in politics of violence. Don’t you think the party was guilty of highhandedness during the local bodies polls?
Fatima: Every party has good and bad people. We have been clearly told by Imran Khan that one has to do efforts for getting his right rather than begging for it. However, I am personally opposed to some violent tactics used in the local bodies polls.
TNN: What steps have been taken by the KP government for women’s rights?
Fatima: A lot of work is being done for resolving problems of women. Though PTI does not have women Member of Provincial Assembly from Peshawar, yet our male lawmakers are working on women issues.in the city.Let me tell you that recently the KP government tabled a bill in the provincial assembly for women’s rights. We will have to work for women’s rights on district level as well. Besides, the provincial government is also working on a plan to establish boutiques in different areas for women. Under this plan, the females will take orders at home for work and will be able to earn money by working inside their homes.
TNN: Do you face any threat while carrying out your routine work?
Fatima: I have received several threats while carrying out social work. Due to these threats, we shifted to Peshawar from Swat. My mother also received several threats but that did not deter our resolve to work for women’s rights.
TNN: Do you have any plan for promotion of female education?
Fatima: Women education is a big challenge for us. We are also working on adult education. We want to educate mothers that will help them educate their families. The District Council Peshawar will work on this issue.
TNN: Women face many problems due to inadequate transport facilities. What’s your take on this?
Fatima: I also use public transport and I am well aware of inconvenience faced by women in passengers’ vehicles. Females often find it difficult to find a seat in these vehicles and had to face harassment. In this regard, recently, we held a meeting with the provincial transport minister who is keen to resolve this problem. We are working on arranging separate transport for women in Peshawar to resolve the problem of female workers and students travelling in the city.
— Translation by Aamir Khan