Unprecedented registration of 4.3 million women voters in Pakistan


ISLAMABAD, May 24, 2018: Unprecedented efforts of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) and civil society in registering eligible-age women have successfully led to an unparalleled increase of 4,307,553 women on the electoral rolls in the last seven months.

This increase indicates the success of the ECP’s Women NIC and Voter Registration Campaign as only around 4.9 million women voters were registered between May 2013 andSeptember 2017. Trust for Democratic Education and Accountability (TDEA), supporting the ECP’s Women NIC/ Voter Registration Campaign’ initiated for reducing gender gap on electoral rolls, implemented interventions in 103 districts across Pakistan, targeting an outreach of 1.8 million women. Supported by the USAID, the first phase of these interventions was implemented by a select number of Free and Fair Election Network’s (FAFEN) member organizations across the country. This phase covered identification and listing of one million unregistered women in 24 districts which successfully concluded on April 30, 2018.

TDEA arranged a ceremony on Thursday, to acknowledge the valuable contribution of citizen volunteers engaged by FAFEN, and thank the ECP, NADRA, USAID, UNDP, political parties, citizens, civil society and media for their collaborative efforts in recognizing and confronting this issue of under-registration of women.

In her keynote speech, Ms. Nighat Siddique, Additional Director General, Gender Affairs, ECP, commended the role of the civil society and NADRA, and termed it as “unique collaboration” which culminated into a success story. She expressed the hope that this momentum will culminate into better women voter turnout in the upcoming General Election.

Presenting welcome note, FAFEN’s Representative Ms Mossarat Qadeem spoke about FAFEN’s contribution in registering eligible-age women with the unprecedented support of ECP and NADRA. She also talked about the importance of women’s registration as voters in Pakistan. She said FAFEN was at the forefront in highlighting the issue of the widening gap between men and women voters in November 2015, and had called for urgent efforts by political parties and the ECP to maximize women’s voter registration ahead of General Election 2018. FAFEN had also urged the ECP to declare a “women’s voter registration emergency” with the cooperation of the NADRA. She commended the efforts of the ECP, NADRA and the civil society and expressed the hope that the mechanism developed among these institutions will sustain in the future as well.

In his vote of thanks, the Chief Executive Officer, TDEA-FAFEN, Mr Shahid Fiaz acknowledged the leadership and unprecedented efforts of the ECP for bringing all stakeholders onboard who have greatly contributed women registration. He also thanked NADRA for supporting the ECP’s campaign in 103 districts across Pakistan. “NADRA’s tone at the top, extended working hours, additional working days and more mobile support remained instrumental during this process”, he opined.

Mr. Fiaz also appreciated the efforts of FAFEN’s citizen volunteers for identification and listing of one million eligible-age, unregistered women in 24 districts of Pakistan. To conclude he said there is a daunting gender gap of 12.49 million on the Final Electoral Rolls published by the ECP yesterday, and addressing it is a long process due to multifaceted issues, however, we are moving together in the right direction. He also thanked international donor community, political parties and the media for their significant contributions.

In the end, certificates of appreciation were awarded among the citizen volunteers who also shared their experiences during the Women NIC/ Voter Registration Campaign.