ISLAMABAD: The General Election 2018 results have proved the perception wrong that women voters are dependent on their men with regard to voting choices.
Analysis of Form-45 of female polling stations set up separately has showed that almost one-fifth (18 percent) women of these electoral areas have shown independence in their voting preferences. The analysis of more than 17,000 Form-45 of female polling stations set up separately from male polling stations shows that 18 percent women of these electoral areas have shown independence in their voting preferences. Out of these 17,000 polling stations, the women of 3,224 electoral areas showed different voting choices than the men in the same area, analysis of the data shows.
Interestingly, the percentage of women voters who showed independence in their voting preferences is relatively high in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. The data shows that 23 percent women in KP and 27 percent in Balochistan where their polling stations were set up separately have shown different voting preference than their men.
There is a common perception in Pakistan that the women voters are always dependent on their men for voting preference. Due to this perception, the political parties have always focused on the male voters and persuade them in their election campaign. This is one of the reasons that the problems and issues being faced by women have never been discussed by the political parties in their election campaign. However, this study carried out by Free and Fair Election Network (Fafen) has proved this perception wrong.
It is hard to find out the voting preferences of women on combined (male and female) polling stations. The Fafen therefore studied the Form-45 of only those polling stations which were set up separately for men and women in the same electoral areas. For the first time, through this study it is revealed that the women are not entirely dependent on their men while casting their votes as they have voted to a different candidate than their men.
As per the data, Fafen analysed 79,493 Form-45 shared by Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on its official website. The data shows that 35,988 out of total 79,493 polling stations were set up separately for male and female voters in the same electoral areas. Fafen has analysed the result of these 35,988 polling stations to determine whether the voting choice of male and female voters is same or different. Analysis of this data has revealed some interesting facts which negate the perception that women cast their vote on men’s choice. Out of the 17,372 polling stations, the female voters of 3,224 (18 percent) electoral areas have voted to different candidate than the men of these areas have voted.
Interestingly, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan are the areas where women showed more independence in terms of voting choice than the other areas. The women who showed independence in casting their votes include 23 percent from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 27 percent from Balochistan, 21 percent from Sindh, 15 percent from Punjab and 14 percent from ICT.
Similarly, the data further shows that 183 female candidates contested for the National Assembly general seat in 2018 out of which only eight returned to the National Assembly. In 2013 general election, 161 women candidates contested for the NA’s general seats and only six candidates won the election, whereas 64 candidates contested for the NA’s general seat in 2008 election out of which 16 candidates won the election. Similarly, 280 female candidates contested for general seats in all four provinces out of which only eight candidates have returned to the provincial assemblies. During the 2013 election, 284 women contested for the general seats in all four provincial assemblies but only 10 won the election. In 2008 general election, 116 women candidates contested for the election and only 10 returned to the provincial assemblies.
The data further shows that women participation as a voter has been recorded on the rise as compared to previous general election. Almost 43 percent women voters have increased during the last 10 years. According to the data, 4,616,836 women voters participated in the general election 2008. Similarly, 7,559,259 women voters participated in the 2013 election whereas 8,129,962 women have participated in the general election 2018. This is a 43 percent increase in participation of women from 2008 to 2018.
Talking to The News, Fafen’s Mudassir Rizvi said there is a popular perception in Pakistan that the male and female voters have the same voting choice. But for the first time, it has been established that the women have shown different choice than men collectively.
“These findings will ultimately force the political parties now to focus and address the problems being faced by women. The political parties usually persuade male members of the family in their election campaign, but after these findings, they have to focus the women as the female voters have shown different voting preferences collectively,” said Rizvi.