ISLAMABAD: The gender gap in the country’s registered voters has reached an alarming level as statistics show there are 12.7 million fewer women compared to men in the newly updated electoral rolls.
The Election Commission of Pakistan on Tuesday released updated electoral rolls that show that the total number of registered voters in the country as of Dec 2016 is 97.01 million. These would easily cross the 100 million mark by the next elections due in 2018.
Among registered voters, 54.59 million are male, while 42.17 million are female, showing a gap of 12.7 million – an increase of more than a million during the last three years. In the last general elections held in May 2013, the gender gap was 10.97 million
Though the country has been unable to hold a population census since 1998, it is widely believed the total number of women in the country would be almost equal if not more than their male counterparts in the headcount.
The commission this month completed the exercise to revise electoral rolls. It added new voters and deleted those who had died since the last electoral rolls were finalised.
ECP Secretary Babar Yaqoob Fateh Muhammad, who shared the new data with the media, admitted that the growing gender gap was becoming a big challenge for electoral authorities.
This gap is high in every part of the country, with the highest in the troubled Fata region. In Punjab, of the total 55.82 million voters, 31.32 million (56%) are male compared to 24.51 million female that constitute 44% of the total registered voters in the province.
In Sindh, of the 20.64 million voters, 11.44 million (55%) are male and 9.2 million (45%) are female. Similarly, in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, of the total 14.01 million registered voters, 8 million (57%) are male and 6 million (43%) are female.
In Balochistan, of the 3.6 million total voters, 2.1 million (58%) are male and 1.5 million (42%) are female voters. In Islamabad, of the total 693,977 registered voters, 373,108 (54%) are male and 320,869 (46%) are female.
Fata is the worst case where of the 2.1 million voters, 1.3 million (62%) are male and 0.80 million (38%) are female registered voters in the new electoral list.
Nadra’s data shows there are a total of 102.82 million CNIC-holders in the country. This leads to another anomaly – some 2.56 million eligible voters are missing in the updated electoral rolls.
In 2013, there were 86.25 million registered voters, which included 56.4% men and 43.6% women.
In September 2015, just before the start of the local government elections, there were 93.07 million voters on the electoral rolls, including 52.36 million male and 40.7 million female voters – a difference of 11.65 million.
The ECP secretary said the national voters’ day will be observed on Wednesday (today) throughout the country to highlight the importance of vote.
The main event in this regard will be held at the President House. Chief Election Commissioner Justice (retd) Sardar Muhammad Raza will also speak on the occasion. Members of parliament and other dignitaries have been invited to attend the ceremony that will not be open for the private media.
He said similar event will be held at provincial levels which would be presided over by governors of the respective provinces and attended by provincial ECP members.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 7th, 2016.
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