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Islamabad

April 9, 2017

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Women voters meet ECP

Women voters meet ECP

Islamabad

Members of Awaz-e-Niswan (AAN), a network of women voters, from ten districts across Pakistan, met with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), says a press release.

Additional Secretary Fida Mohamed and Additional Director General ECP, Nighat briefed the participants about the situation and gender gap in electoral rolls and the steps taken by ECP at four levels- staffing, training, voters and candidates - to enhance and facilitate women participation and visibility in the electoral process. 

Twenty seven women voters from Punjab, Balochistan, Sindh, KP and Gilgit-Baltistan, including college students, community women leaders and CSO representatives asked questions relevant to the issues faced by women in their areas in obtaining CNICs and registering as voters. The difficulties faced by women in correcting the erroneous registration in constituencies that they do not belong to was brought to the notice of ECP. The setting up of District Voter Education Committees (DVECs) was appreciated, however it was noted that not all are functional. Secretary ECP encouraged AAN members to join the DVECs and promised to facilitate it. 

Dr. Yasmin Zaidi, director of Center of Gender and Policy studies that hosts the AAN secretariat, provided a brief overview of the work of AAN and informed ECP that it brings together college students and community women, especially women with disabilities and from minorities, to create political awareness of women’s obligations and rights as citizens that begins with getting a CNIC, registering to vote, participating in the electoral processes and engaging with duty bearers to solve their problems.

Rashida Dohad, executive director of Omar Asghar Khan Foundation noted that it was important that CSOs be facilitated in their duties as election observers and that along with more training, polling staff be provided better facilities and incentives as they work under stressful conditions. 

The role of political parties in mobilising women voters was emphasised. Unfortunately this does not appear to be a priority for political parties as only two have responded to letter from ECP asking what measures they can take to register women and get them to vote.

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