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Empowerment Through Elections: Women Contesting in Pakistan’s National Assembly Elections

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पाकिस्तान में इतिहास रचेगी हिंदू महिला उम्मीदवार सवेरा प्रकाश

In Pakistan, the culmination of anticipation has arrived as the nation prepares for elections on Thursday, February 8, 2024. Among the frontrunners in the race is former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Approximately 150 parties are testing their fortunes in the general elections, with nearly 6,500 candidates vying for victory. Notably, male candidates dominate the electoral landscape, yet many female contenders have also stepped onto the battlefield. According to media reports, approximately 5% of women are presenting their candidacy in the general elections.

Women’s Participation in Politics: Breaking Barriers in Pakistan

Under Pakistan’s constitution, certain seats are reserved for women in both provincial and national assemblies. However, parties seldom grant women the permission to contest outside those quotas. Ahead of the elections, AFP conducted a special interview with three female candidates striving for victory, outlined as follows:

1. Islamic Influencer: Jebe Vakar

Jebe Vakar, a prominent Pakistani female YouTuber, commands a substantial following on social media platforms. Although she’s a novice in electoral politics, she’s making her debut in the arena, representing the Jamaat-e-Islami, a South Asian Islamic political party.

Through her social media accounts, Jebe engages Pakistani women daily, enlightening them about their rights according to Islamic principles. Not only does she advocate for women’s rights, but she also shares insights into Islamic history.

In response to AFP’s queries, Jebe expressed her preference for Facebook and YouTube, where she interacts with her fans regularly, addressing their inquiries and concerns.

Jebe believes in not confining the teachings of the Quran but spreading them through platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp groups. If successful in the general elections, she intends to champion the cause of women’s empowerment by advocating for robust legislation against gender oppression.

2. Triumph Over Tragedy: Samar Haroon Bilour

Samar Haroon Bilour is hailed as a torchbearer of youth aspirations in Pakistan. Addressing dozens of men in a room, she discussed her party’s plans during the 2018 elections. However, her name and image were conspicuously absent from banners during the campaign.

In an interview with AFP, Bilour revealed the challenges she faced during the elections. Prior to the polls, terrorists had assassinated her husband. Despite the grim circumstances, she propelled her late husband’s campaign forward.

Samar Haroon Bilour attributes her husband’s assassination to the Taliban, the most formidable and active terrorist organization in the region. For some time, they had control over several areas in the region.

3. Interfaith Advocate: Savera Prakash

Savera Prakash, a Hindu woman, possesses considerable knowledge about political affairs. Recently, she earned a bachelor’s degree in medicine. Her father follows Sikhism, while her mother adheres to Christianity. Prakash firmly believes that no religion advocates for wrongdoing; rather, each encourages individuals to engage in virtuous deeds.

Prakash’s profound statement underscores her resilient mindset, emphasizing the importance of goodness irrespective of religious affiliations.

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