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Electoral rolls: Female voters remain scarce as women MPs look away

By: Sumera Khan

ISLAMABAD: With the general elections around the corner, a report shows that an estimated 10 million women in Pakistan remain unregistered in the draft electoral rolls.

According to a report provided by the Election Commission of Pakistan, despite constituting 52% of the country’s population, the number of female registered voters was far less than men. The total number of male registered voters is 47.7 million, whereas the number of women registered voters is 36.5 million in the newly-compiled computerised electoral rolls, which will be made public by the end of this month.

This gender schism is consistent in all four provinces and regions, including the federal capital, where the literacy rate is considered to be relatively higher.

While this remains a serious concern, women parliamentarians are notably indifferent towards to the discriminatory figure. “It was observed during the consultative rounds when the Election Commission did call upon the stakeholders, including civil society members, political parties, UN agencies, media representatives, law enforcement agencies and legal experts, to discuss a revised version of an electoral reforms package before forwarding it to the law ministry, an extremely low participation was apparent among women legislatures in parliament,” an official of the Election Commission told The Express Tribune.

The official added that even after the statistics were revealed, no woman parliamentarian took up the issue in parliament or any other forum except for a few seminars. The women parliamentary caucus, headed by National Assembly Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza, remains silent over the issue and never sent recommendations on this particular matter.

Anusha Rehman of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz was of the view that, “We need to have credible and authentic data from the relevant department, which clearly indicates the population of the two genders above the age of 18. Till we have credible data, we may not be in a position to raise questions.”

She also questioned whether women are really more in number than men in Pakistan or if it was just a fallacy.

Special advisor to the Prime Minister Shahnaz Wazir Ali refused to accept that women parliamentarians failed to show interest in this regard, and said that, rather, women MPs have rendered a great deal of time and dedication to highlight the issue.

However, a Pakistan People’s Party MNA said on the condition of anonymity that a majority of women parliamentarians made no personal efforts to get the women in their constituencies registered.

The Express Tribune