LAHORE: An alliance of civil society organisations has stressed upon the need to reduce the gender gap between numbers of registered voters in Pakistan. The situation is perturbing as the gap between the number of male and female voters has crossed 12 million.
In a statement issued on the National Voters’ Day on Thursday, Raja Shoaib Akbar, Senior Programme Manager of Coalition for Election and Democracy (CED), said the voter data trends were alarming because the gender gap had expanded by two million in disadvantage of female voters since 2013.
It is estimated that the voters’ lists will have well over 100 million citizens and the gap between male and female voters is feared to increase further. Referring to the provisional census data, he stated that female population was slightly over 50 percent but their percentage in electoral rolls has not touched 44 percent, this situation warrants drastic measures.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra), political parties and civil society need to work jointly to bridge this gap. He said the 2018 general election was around the corner and further delay in corrective measures would mean denial to democratic rights of 12 million female voters.
Raja Shoaib expressed the hope that recent announcement of the ECP’s campaign for female voter registration would gain momentum and would get right direction for achievement of its goals. A major cause of gender gap is lack of women CNIC registration, Nadra should take up this challenge and deploy additional mobile registration teams in the low women registration areas. The registration authority also needs to immediately increase its daily targets for the field teams, he further said. At the end, Raja Shoaib said the dream of inclusion of women in mainstream democratic process could not be achieved without active role of political parties. The political parties should adhere to the provisions of new Election Act 2017 by increasing female party membership and their registration as voters and candidates.