ISLAMABAD: Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja said on Thursday that the most serious challenge at hand was the gender gap on voters’ list and this was due to low registration of women’s NICs.
“The absence of NICs has deprived a considerable number of women in rural as well as in urban areas of their most fundamental right to vote and contest elections. Filling this gap becomes particularly important in the wake of the up-coming local government elections,” he said in a message on the occasion of the International Rural Women Day. He said that the role of the rural women in enhancing rural development, improving food security and eradication of rural poverty was critical. Their participation in electoral process and representation in the democratic processes, he pointed out, were important in shaping policies and programmes to address the problems faced by women at the grassroots level. “On the occasion of the International Rural Women Day, I strongly urge women, especially the rural women, to get their National Identity Cards registered, become registered voters and participate in electoral processes,” he said.
The Election Commission of Pakistan, he noted, was committed to holding free, fair and inclusive elections, which was not possible without the participation of women. He explained that in line with the Constitution; the Election Act 2017 had several provisions in the law that guaranteed women’s rights as candidates and voters. To bridge this gap between male and female voters, the ECP had taken several initiatives.