Tuesday December 05, 2023

Women overseas voters: Over 1.5m voters can change political dynamics in 11 potential cities

October 14, 2021
Women overseas voters: Over 1.5m voters can change political dynamics in 11 potential cities

ISLAMABAD: More than 1.5 million overseas women voters can play a significant role in the victory of some contesting candidates in electorates of 11 potential cities, if the newly-proposed amendment in election law gets the parliamentary cover.

The Geo News exclusively accessed official figures from the relevant authorities (ECP and NADRA) disclose that as many as 227 constituencies (NA and PAs) have maximum number of registered women voter who could exercise their right to vote since they are in possession of National Identity Card for Overseas Pakistanis (NICOP).

These female overseas voters, who lived with their families in nearly 140 countries, witnessed the highest gender gap between male and female NICOP holders in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with a difference of 88pc, followed by Punjab with 68pc, revealed the official data. Balochistan and Sindh have a difference of 60 and 40 percent respectively. These female voters can vote for 248 national and provincial assembly constituencies. The female voters make only 15pc of nearly 10 million potential overseas voters, according to official data.

This difference is stark but not surprising. Large numbers of Pakistani immigrants abroad comprise the labour force. The International Labor Organization and Bureau of Emigration & Overseas Employment’s figures reveal that during the period of 1971 to 2021, only 42,534 females were registered for overseas employment, compared to over 11 million males. As many as 1.1 million out of 1.5 million, potential female voters belong to 16 districts that include Lahore, Rawalpindi, Gujrat, Islamabad, Jhelum, Faisalabad, Sialkot, Gujranwala, Attock, Multan and six districts of Karachi, official figures stated. These districts collectively have around 36 million registered voters.

More than 0.7 million (754,054) female overseas voters also could play an even more vital role in Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore and Rawalpindi, which have registered 42 seats in NA and 62 seats of PAs of Sindh and Punjab, according to official figures.

These official numbers starting with Karachi reveal it has 8.4 million registered voters, compared to that, the number of potential overseas female voters is slightly above 300,000, spread over six districts and 21 NA constituencies, according to official figures.

Karachi Central, with its four NA constituencies, has the highest number of overseas female voters with 129,862 NICOP holders, followed by Karachi East with 80,073 female NICOP holders with four NA constituencies, suggested the data. Karachi South has 56,273 female voters with two NA seats, stated the data. This means in each of the 10 constituencies of these districts, between 15 to 30,000 additional female votes could be in play. In the other three districts, the number of potential female voters is less than 20,000, according to the official data.

In Punjab, Lahore, Rawalpindi and Gujrat appear to be the districts where overseas female voters could have some impact, according to official figures.

These districts have 214,157, 141,802 and 118,041 potential voters respectively, which is not that significant in comparison to registered voters in these districts that are 5.9 million in Lahore, 3.2 million in Rawalpindi and 2 million in Gujrat, according to official figures.

The other six districts of Punjab with high number of potential overseas voters, namely Jhelum, Faisalabad, Sialkot, Gujranwala, Attock and Multan have between 23,000 to 68,000 potential female voters, less likely to have any major impact, according to official figures. The federal capital, Islamabad, has 57,953 NICOP holders who could impact the results in its three NA constituencies, revealed the data.

Similar to overall overseas voters, the impact of female voters in the upcoming elections would also depend on their turnout, the significance of their numbers in each constituency, domestic voters turnout, as well as how close the contest is in constituencies they have substantial numbers in, suggested the closer look Geo News have had.

Official figures continued to reveal that more than 2.2 million (2,281,010) overseas NICOP holders have their roots in KPK. As many as 2.1 million (2,157,505) male and 123,505 female overseas voters are registered with the NADRA.

Nearly 35,274 females and 137,155 males overseas voters are registered from Balochistan, adding a total of 172,429 expats belonging to the said province, according to official statistics.