Low turnout has marred past elections in Pakistan. But with a new law mandating that at least 10 percent of voters have to be female, more women are getting ready to vote on July 25.
In a conservative village in northern Pakistan, its menfolk and village elders had previously prevented the women in their hamlet from voting in past elections
But as Pakistanis prepare to vote in general elections on Wednesday (July 25), the women of Toru village – tucked in the Mardan district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province – say they, too, will go to the polls.
Thanks to the growing reach of the media, more women are now educated about their rights. And a 2017 law, which mandates that at least 10 percent of voters have to be female in any constituency – otherwise the results will be nullified – will likely bring more women out.
The law was created for many reasons. Some towns and villages have in the past, forbidden women from voting, or had the menfolk voting on their behalf. In previous elections, some areas such as Dir in the aforementioned province, saw some political candidates allegedly coming to an agreement prior to the election to disbar women from voting. This was largely because women were deemed to be inferior, or not allowed to leave their homes.
For Basnama, who only gave her first name but refused to show her face, her "vote is her power."
"Women should vote. Sometimes, just one vote makes all the difference," she told TRT World.
Basnama said she voted in the local bodies elections in 2015.
"And I'll vote again. This is how we can give an opportunity to new people to serve us best."
Gulisran, an elderly farmer, is hopeful she will get to choose her candidate in this election. "We will need to vote now," she said.
"The people of Mardan are very politically aware and very excited," Asad Zia, a Pakistani journalist, told TRT World. "And this time, as compared to previous elections, the turnout in parts of Mardan is expected to be higher."
All the women interviewed byTRT World were fired up about the upcoming elections. Armed with their national identity cards, Toru's women plan to vote on Wednesday, a historic event that marks the second-ever democratic transition of power in the nuclear-armed nation of nearly 208 million people.