Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja has said the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is committed to provide equal opportunities to every segment of the society and is trying to make the electoral process more inclusive as per Article 25 of the Constitution.
He was addressing the inaugural ceremony of the fourth phase of a joint campaign initiated by the ECP and the National Database Registration Authority (NADRA) for issuing Computerized National Identity Cards (CNIC) to women and registering them in electoral rolls.
The ceremony was held at the ECP Secretariat on Wednesday. “Today’s ceremony is proof that the ECP is working very hard to enhance the political empowerment of women,” the CEC added.
He appreciated the role of NADRA and the ECP’s development partners, civil society and media for assisting the ECP in the campaign that aims at mitigating the gender gap in electoral rolls.
Speaking on the occasion, ECP Secretary Dr Akhter Nazir said following its strategic plan, the ECP is trying to lessen the gender gap in the electoral rolls.
ECP Additional Director General for Gender Affairs Nighat Siddique in her briefing said since the launch of the ECP-NADRA joint campaign in 2017, the gender gap in the electoral roll has significantly reduced.
“In comparison to the electoral rolls published in October 2020, the gender gap has further gone down from 12.41 million to 12.37% in the electoral rolls published in April 2021. The fourth phase of the campaign is a continuation of the ECP’s efforts to mitigate the gender gap in electoral rolls,” she added.
NADRA Chairman Tariq Malik appreciated the efforts of the ECP for political empowerment of women and said NADRA would keep providing its assistance to the ECP.
“NADRA is targeting those 80 districts where the gender gap in the CNIC and voter lists is 10% or more. NADRA would soon be establishing 66 registration centers at the Tehsil level. Moreover, NADRA has marked Friday as Women Registration Day,” he added.
At the ceremony, the CEC handed over CNICs to three women who had got registered for the very first time with NADRA. The CEC also inspected the Mobile Registration Van (MRV) of NADRA in the premises of the ECP. All the staff on the van are female. The event was also attended by the ECP members.
The ECP last week issued the report of a pilot project for eliminating gender gap among the voters. According to the report, there is a huge gap of over 12 million people between the number of male and female registered voters in the country.
The pilot project was conducted in 20 districts of the country covering 21, tehsils and 230 census blocks.
Prior to the survey, the ECP conducted a comprehensive training of all the relevant regional election commissioners, district election commissioners, registration officers, and data entry operators.
It had developed a set of data collection instruments and recording and reporting formats to ensure standardized data collection and analysis. During the pilot project the ECP covered 32, 970 households and contacted 133,267 people of age 18 and above in a door to door survey.
The research showed that 81% of people above 18 years of age – 108,218 people – had valid CNICs.
The 19% people who did not have CNICs included 77% women and 23% men. In Punjab, the people who did not have CNICs include 77% women and 23% men.
In Sindh the people who did not have CNICs included 74% women and 26% men; in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) the people who did not hold CNICs comprised 84% women and 16% men while in Balochistan respectively 71% and 29% of the total people sans CNICs were women and men.
According to the survey, the people did not get CNICs due to inaccessible National Database Registration Authority (NADRA) offices, economic constraints, lack of awareness about importance of CNICs and voters lists and socio-cultural constraints.
The ECP said due to its campaign, the number of voters phenomenally increased. Between July 2018 to December 2020, the ECP registered 9,7 93, 344 voters 50.41% of which were women and 49. 48% of which were men.
APP WITH ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM NEW DESK