Govt urged to launch women registration drives

Politician lays task at the door of ECP, NADRA

APP May 07, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The government must launch special awareness campaigns among women voters to increase their participation in the upcoming general elections.

This was stated by representatives of civil society organisations and lawmakers in a roundtable on women and elections in the capital.

They said that most women in the country are unaware of the importance of having a national identity card, a prerequisite to registering as voters, let alone voting and women suffrage.

They suggested that the National Database Registration Authority (NADRA) and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) should work together to launch a massive drive to educate women about the significance of getting a computerized national identity card (CNIC) and to then register as voters with the ECP.

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Nasreen Khatoon, a social activist, said that women living in the rural areas are in dire need of being educated about the power and need of an id card and to vote. She added that women in the rural areas still have limited information and face barriers in getting a new CNIC and registering as voters.

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She underscored the need to address these issues prior to the general elections to increase the ratio of women voters in the voting process.

National Assembly Member Arifa Khalid Pervaiz pointed to the disparity between men and women when it comes to voting during the general elections. "Women voters turn out in general elections has comparatively always remained lower when compared to male voters, since not much effort is made to increase their participation," she said.

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Pervaiz went on to say that said that most of the women are reluctant to exercise their right of the vote even though separate polling booths and separate polling stations are set up for them by the ECP.

However, the MNA was quick to suggest that it was the ECP’s job to mobilise women to vote, adding that most of the women in villages do not have ID cards nor are they registered to vote. Hence a campaign for their registration must be held. She also pointed out how in some areas, women voters do not have access to resources such as transportation — a major hurdle on election day. This, she said, must be solved in some way.

Last week, a statutory body for rights of women, the National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW) and Provincial Commissions on Status of Women (PCSWs) had also called for a door-to-door registration campaign for women voters before the upcoming general elections.

Following an ECP drive to register women voters in 103 districts of the country the preliminary electoral rolls of 2018 show that there are 104.267 million voters registered across the country and nearly half, or around 45.804 million registered voters are women.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 7th, 2018.


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