Progressive Pakistan: Coalition of the Inclusive

A unique coalition for transgender, disabled and women rights’ activists was launched to take part in the electoral process for the upcoming general elections.

The coalition of 30 transgender, disabled and women rights activists titled ‘Coalition for Inclusive Pakistan’ (CIP) was launched in Islamabad on Sunday. The movement which has been started with the support of the Trust for Democratic Education and Accountability (TDEA), has the representation of the marginalised persons from all over the country, said a statement released by TDEA.

The purpose of forming such an alliance was in line with the provisions of the Elections Act 2017 that contain certain positive aspects to facilitate participation of transgender, disabled and women in the electoral process. 

The participants, at the launch event, urged the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to ensure that the new election law is implemented in letter and spirit. They also appreciated the work being done by gender and disability electoral working group of the ECP and said that CIP would closely work with it for the achievement of their electoral rights.

Blue Veins Programme Coordinator Qamar Naseem said that the barriers that hinder the participation of the transgender people, the disabled and women in electoral process and restrict their ability to exercise their right to vote are actually barriers that hinder their participation in mainstream life. “These barriers also put curbs on their ability to exercise their other basic rights and in the enjoyment of fundamental freedoms,” he added.

Naseem said the ECP should make arrangements so that transgender voters are able to cast their vote independently and with dignity.

Aware Girls Executive Director Gulalai Ismail said at present Section 12c requires ECP to conduct public awareness programs and media campaigns regarding the importance of maximum voter enrollment and participation in election of women. She demanded that transgenders and people with disabilities, along with women should also be included in such programmes and campaigns.

Disabled Welfare Association President Jawaid Rais said that it is a welcome development that Section 93 facilitates voters with disabilities to cast their votes through postal ballots. However, it should be noted that the option of postal ballots supplements and does not supplant the right to vote of the disabled voters in public.

Jawaid also urged the ECP to ensure that its public service messages on voter education in the lead up to general elections are delivered in sign language as well so that these messages are accessible for speech and hearing-impaired voters.

The Express Tribune

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