Women voters: An elusive electorate

First time women voters asked who they will vote for and why.

First time women voters asked who they will vote for and why. PHOTO: ONLINE


When the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) proposed cancelling results from polling stations with less than a 10% women turnout, mainstream political parties disagreed. They hinged their opposition on the argument that ‘women voter turnout tends to be low in rural areas’. 

Women in Pakistan face an unusual conundrum with respect to elections. They can become the premier or a minister but in many places are refused their right to vote.

In the 2008 polls in Suleman Khel, elders and candidates from NA-4 Peshawar-IV collectively decided women would not vote. They signed a stamp-paper declaration to this effect, making it binding on everyone to obey the decision.

In the previous election, political parties in Charsadda and Swat also did not allow women to vote. Even though it was in Charsadda that Begum Naseem Wali Khan, wife of the late Wali Khan, contested elections in 1977 and became the first woman in Pakistan to do so.

NA-7 Charsadda-I is dominated by the Awami National Party (ANP), the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl and the Qaumi Watan Party.

The tentative swing votes

The 2013 polls are paving the way to an election of firsts. Candidates were disqualified because they did not know a Quranic verse; three major parties are under relentless terrorist attacks; the ECP has played an unprecedented role and the judiciary is an ‘active’ observer. It would be fair to say that this time, every single vote counts.

There are 37.59 million women registered to vote in Pakistan, making up 43.6% of the total registered electorate. The question is: will women make their vote count? Several women were asked how they intend to approach May 11.

We Asked

Are you going to vote?

If yes, then who will you vote for and why?

If no, then why not?

Have you ever voted before?

If yes, then who did you vote for and why?

First Time Voters

*Names have been changed to protect identity

Published in The Express Tribune, May 5th, 2013.


nasim khan mahsud | 8 years ago | Reply

i m going to vote first time though m an educationist bt still confused as the previous practice of our polititions made us not so hopful abt thm. bt m strongly convinced tht we shoul vote. bcos we are passing through a transitional phase of democrasy so we hav to bear wid al this unlucky happenings around us. i just request to whome ever u wana vote u should poll bcos if v think tht all of thm r corrupt thn who ll run ths country? we gave tem th chance again and if the process continue hn we can hop in future for the best polititions and political system. so stil m looking 4ward for thm who ll take security issues of waziristan, northrn punjab, and karachi take seriously? who ll bring reforms in education sector so we can expect social change in the society? etc......................

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