Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Assembly Deputy Speaker Mahmood Jan has said that Lawmakers, Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), NADRA and other stakeholders should work closely to strengthen women participation in the electoral process and to reduce gender gap among voters.
Mr Jan was speaking at a policy consultation on ‘Gender Gap in Electoral Participation’ which was jointly organised by UNDP-Pakistan ECP and Women Parliamentary CACUS KP assembly here on Thursday.
The consultative meeting was chaired by Deputy Speaker Provincial Assembly Mahmood Jan and Chairperson Women Parliamentary Caucus Dr Sameera Shams.
NADRA officials and members of civil society attended the consultative meeting held at Jirga hall of the provincial assembly.
The gender gap in voting refers to the difference in the percentage of women and the percentage of men voting for a given candidate.
Deputy Speaker Mahmood Jan said that Parliamentarians, NADRA, Election Commission and other stakeholders must work together to increase the participation of women in the electoral process and make women more active in this regard.
Addressing the consultative meeting, Dr Sameera Shams said that women’s participation in the electoral process is an important part of the electoral process and where there is no women’s vote and NADRA registration, the registration of women with the help of government donors, NADRA and Election Commission.
There is an active process to bring it under the purview of. He said that in order to access basic rights, it is necessary to have a national identity card, which is their legal identity. Based on this, they can have equal access to all basic constitutional rights.
Policies are based on women’s registration data, which determines their rights, seats and participation in the national mainstream. Addressing NADRA, he said that mobile vans should be allotted for women for obtaining and registering NADRA identity cards so that registration of women at their doorsteps could be made possible.
Election Commission Secretary Hameed Khan said that voting is a fundamental right of women and in this regard revolutionary steps are being taken to ensure their registration.
All resources are being utilized to raise awareness about the registration of persons with disabilities, including women. The role of parliamentarians is crucial in minimizing the statistical gap between men and women in the electoral rolls, who can take the campaign forward by encouraging NIC registration in their constituencies.
NADRA Director General Inclusive Registration Reema Aftab said that even if women are not registered, they are not part of the national statistics and they do not have any national or legal identity. To encourage women to register with NADRA, their first identity card is absolutely free. He said that NADRA has more than 200 mobile registration vans reserved for ten women and ten mega centers which are open 24 hours a day while women in 93% of NADRA offices to facilitate the registration of women. The deployment has been made while 18 centers are reserved for women only, out of which 15 are located in Pakhtunkhwa. Similarly, Friday was reserved for women’s registration. Women also register on Saturdays. As a result of these revolutionary measures, the gender gap in election activities has been reduced from 12% to 10%, which is being further reduced.
Darren Nance, UNDP’s Chief Technical Adviser, said that bringing all stakeholders, including government agencies, together on the issue under discussion was tantamount to taking the process seriously. He appreciated the role of the institutions and reiterated to continue working on this issue. He said that in order to bring women into the national mainstream, it was necessary to have an identity card and voter registration.