Youtuber, widow, Hindu: Women candidates fight for change in elections

ISLAMABAD (PEN) : As the country gears up for its general elections on Thursday, three women candidates are breaking barriers and pushing for change in their communities.

Despite accounting for only around 5% of the nearly 6,500 candidates, these women represent diverse backgrounds and aspirations, highlighting the challenges and opportunities for female participation in Pakistani politics.

Zeba Waqar: This YouTuber and Islamic influencer, running for the first time with Jamaat-e-Islami, uses her online platform to educate women about Islam and empower them through religious knowledge. With a focus on economic empowerment and stronger anti-harassment laws, she aims to address the disadvantages faced by many women.

Samar Haroon Bilour: Thrust into politics after her husband’s assassination, Bilour became the first woman provincial lawmaker in Peshawar. Overcoming societal resistance and threats, she continues his legacy with the Awami Workers Party, advocating for job creation and standing up against violence.

Saveera Parkash: Representing a young Hindu woman’s perspective in a conservative region, Parkash, a recent medical graduate, advocates for religious harmony and inclusivity. Running with the Pakistan Peoples Party, she seeks to combat gender-based discrimination and empower women through education and healthcare.

These women’s stories showcase the multifaceted fight for female representation in Pakistani politics. While overcoming societal norms and entrenched biases remains a challenge, their courage and determination pave the way for a more inclusive and representative political landscape.