In an unprecedented move, the transgender networks of Pakistan including TransAction Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (TAP), Sindh Transgender Welfare Network (STWN), Punjab Transgender Association (PTA), Balochistan Alliance for Transgender and Intersex Community (BATIC), Blue Veins, PHRO , Hewad , Peace Justice and Youth Organization, Youth for Democracy and Development joined hands to launch Pakistan’s first national network on the political empowerment of transgender community named All Pakistan Transgender Election Network (APTEN) in Peshawar yesterday.
The members of the APTEN called upon the Federal And Provincial governments, Election Commission of Pakistan, NADRA, UN agencies, and Civil Society organizations to support and coordinate with the network to ensure their political empowerment and participation in the upcoming general elections in 2018.
Qamar Naseem, Program Coordinator of Blue Veins, who is also member of the Chief Minister’s Special Community on Rights of the transgender persons KP, and member of the national task force said “ While the visibility of transgender people in media has increased considerably, transgender leaders remain close to invisible in public offices. The political empowerment of transgender community will not only give them a fair chance to be their own voice but also bring their best out in the form of representatives to hold offices which will groom them as political workers. The political parties are also requested to give them space and acknowledge their efforts. Once this community is groomed, it will be an asset for the country”.
Farzana Jan president of the TransAction Alliance Khyber Pakhtunkhwa said that launch of the APTEN was a historical, and a defining moment for the trans community. Shahzadi Rai, Advisor of the Sindh Transgender Welfare Network (STWN) while speaking to media said that political empowerment and greater control over their own development would enhance government’s responsiveness to the needs of the trans community.
Many other speakers including Ihsan Khosa Baloch (PHRO), Komal Afridi (President of the Balochistan Alliance for Transgender and Intersex Community – BATIC), Nayab Ali (Punjab Transgender Association – PTA), Taimur Kamal (Coordinator of Pakhtunkhwa Civil Society Network – PCSN, and chairman of PJYO) spoke to the media on the occasion of launching. They highlighted various problems being faced by the trans community.
The members of the All Pakistan Transgender Election made following demands:
- Political and election process should be made friendly for gender minorities.
- There should be at least one representative of transgender community in provincial and national assemblies.
- Election Commission of Pakistan should make serious efforts to make sure that transgender community is not left out of the electoral process – not only as voters but also as candidates.
- The systematic marginalization of transgender community must end, and political parties should encourage transgender community by including them in their party manifesto and giving them space in their parties.
- Gender equality should be institutionalized within the party structures, processes and practices. A gender audit on yearly basis should be done to do the self-assessment
- Political parties should initiate a mentor-ship program to build the capacity of transgender political activist.
The network members will meet early next month to issue a joint deceleration regarding political inclusion of transgender community.