and Myanmar in the
map are not members
can Play Vital Role in The Empowerment
: Speakers at a media training workshop on "Engendering Democratic
Governance in South Asia" said the media can play a critical role
in bringing women's agenda forward and empowering them especially when
it comes to women in politics.
The workshop aimed at enhancing meaningful and equal participation of
women in democratic governance by addressing the issues of gender based
exclusion, violence and discriminatory practices in politics.
The workshop was aimed at enhancing meaningful and equal participation
of women in democratic governance by addressing the issue of
gender-based exclusion, violence and discriminatory practices in
workshop was addressed by Dr Rohit Kumar Nepali, Executive Director for the
South Asia Partnership, Khawar Mumtaz Associated Shirkat Gah- Women's Resource
Centre, Rubina Saigol of Independent Civic and Social Organisation
Professional, Professor Mehdi Hassan, analyst and Chairman Human Resource
Commission of Pakistan, Kishwar Sultana National Co-ordinator, National
Democracy Watch Group - Pakistan, Naeem Mirza, Chief Operating Officer of
Aurat Foundation and Mohammad Tehseen founding Director of South Asia
Speaking on the occasion, Kumar said the question of equal participation of
women in politics is being raised because of their importance, as they
represent fifty percent of the entire population but left behind in the
decision making process. Underling the causes, he said the structural,
systemic and cultural hindrances alienate the women from power sharing
process. He lamented that the visible and invisible violence against women in
politics plays an important role in depriving them of the democratic
governance decisions making positions. The gender imbalance at the decision
making level is challenging the notion of gender equality, he said.
Kumar said the gap between women's and men's access to and control of
resources and the benefits of development are still out of reach for most of
women world-wide. However, in South Asia, the concept of power and authority
is ascribed to certain social characteristics determined by the male
privileged groups to exclude women. Women normally are not given the
opportunity to hold the positions of power in politics, he added. He further
said that marginalised and powerless women in our society are at great
disadvantage and experience injustice in the political domain.
He claimed that female empowerment is restricted by the patriarchal attitudes
perpetuated through social, cultural, religious and traditional values at
different levels of society. He further said the women face considerable
obstacle within political parties that provide far greater opportunities for
upward mobility to men and women. He added that women politicians are also
unlikely to challenge the structures that have brought them to power. Higher
number of women in parliament generally contributes to stronger attention to
women's issues, he maintained.
Some other speakers praised women contribution alone as well as with men
during internal political conflict and freedom fighting. They were of the view
that the leadership quality of women could not be challenged as many of them
have served as heads of state in South Asia and are recognised as prominent
leaders who brought about changes in their countries.
They lamented that the political decision making has always been the domain of
men, and women contribution in democratic development of nations are
undermined and ignored and added that media could play role in influencing the
people and changing the dynamics of the society. The South Asian media houses
have few women in the decision making positions and to sustain even these few
women use the man's stereotyped lens to understand gender issues and lose the
crux of women problems, they added.
The women desiring to enter politics have to face different kind of hardship
and violence in the society but media is not highlighting the actual issues
being faced by them. The reports on women politicians are found to be more
focused on their attire or personal stories rather than their contribution
towards society or betterment of political governance, they added.