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National

January 14, 2018

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ECP drive to bridge gender gap enters a new phase from tomorrow

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan’s drive in 79 selected districts for registration of female voters to bridge the gender gap will enter a new phase from tomorrow (Monday), as the male-female voter ratio is to remain 56-44 per cent even in 7.3 million new voters to be added to the electoral rolls from January 15.

Of new 73,60,279 persons, 40,72,433 are males and 32,87,846 females: hence the disparity is quite obvious. Previously, among 9,70,22,591 registered voters database, the male-female disparity stood at 56-44 per cent with 54598173 males and 42,42,4,418 females and needless to say the new entries (73,60,279) will also reflect the same ratio during revision of electoral rolls.

The question being asked in the Election Commission of Pakistan and elsewhere is whether the voters will go to polls late this year with the same disparity or desired results of reducing it at least by half will be achieved.

A few months back, the Election Commission, duly supported by civil society and some NGOs, had launched a drive in 79 districts, identified, where there was more male-female gender gap than the other districts.

Under this drive, there will be door-to-door mobilisation from Monday, involving mobile registration vans. And this will continue till April 30.

“We intend to bring down this difference or disparity between male and female voters to 6 million before the next general election sometime this year,” said Additional Director General Gender Affairs at the Election Commission Ms. Nighat Siddique, when The News approached her for comments.She conceded that indeed it was difficult to bridge this gap to a level, but she insisted that they were quite hopeful of slashing this gap to 6 million, which presently stood at around 12.7 million. She pointed out that during the ongoing drive, males were noticed to be more forthcoming in getting registered for obtaining the CNICs than the females and they obviously could not be refused, but the mobile teams would make sure to reach out to females.

Electoral experts say that any drive to get registered maximum number of females to obtain the CNICs and then get registered as voters is difficult, unless the political parties and their activists at grass root level get involved in it.

It is pertinent that there are apprehensions that the concerns of men that the images of females on the electoral rolls, might be misused, could lead to deletion of significant number of females from these rolls.

Already, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan Election Commissions have been approached by worried males, who sought help in getting names of their women withdrawn as registered voters.

“You can’t compel anyone not to seek withdrawal of the names of their females. It is purely optional. We had requested the government to consider not providing electoral rolls with images of female voters to political parties or candidates, “said a senior ECP official, who did not wish to be identified. He noted that they could expect requests for deletions of female voters during revision of electoral rolls.

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