In its Annual Report 2018, the Election Commission of Pakistan documented a list of recommendations in 13 different categories. These recommendations aimed to further strengthen the electoral process in Pakistan. The following recommendations from the compendium deal with the potential measure that can be taken to increase the women’s participation in the electoral process.
Preparation of Constituency-wise List of Polling Stations and List of Polling Personnel
- To encourage polling staff especially females, it may be ensured that they are assigned duties nearest to their residence with increased financial incentives;
- Furthermore, targeted awareness and motivational campaigns may also be carried out for female polling staff.
Revision of Electoral Rolls
- Federal Government may issue a direction to NADRA for increasing registration of women, persons with disabilities, minorities, and transgender persons by removing existing challenges and barriers.
Enlistment of Political Parties
- Section 202 of the Elections Act, 2017 may be amended to provide that the list of 2,000 members provided by political parties for enlistment shall consist of 20 percent women members.
- As a long-term measure, the federal and provincial governments may take steps to increase women representation in law enforcement agencies to minimize the deficiency of female security personnel.
ECP’s legal authorities to protect the rights of women
The ECP is now empowered to nullify results in constituencies where women’ turnout is equal to or less than 10%, and to take necessary action against agreements that forcibly ban women from voting. This is a significant and wholly welcome measure to improve women’s participation in elections.
Apart from that, the voter registration process is now simplified so that anyone who applies for a computerized national identity card (CNIC) from NADRA can opt to register to vote at the same time. They can also choose to be registered at their “current” or “permanent” address.
Following sections in elections act 2017 deals with the women voters:
9. Power of the Commission to declare a poll void.— (1) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, if, from facts apparent on the face of the record and after such enquiry as it may deem necessary, the Commission is satisfied that by reason of grave illegalities or such violations of the provisions of this Act or the Rules as have materially affected the result of the poll at one or more polling stations or in the whole constituency including implementation of an agreement restraining women from casting their votes, it shall make a declaration accordingly and call upon the voters in the concerned polling station or stations or in the whole constituency as the case may be, to recast their votes in the manner provided for bye-elections.
Explanation.– If the turnout of women voters is less than ten percent of the total votes polled in a constituency, the Commission may presume that the women voters have been restrained through an agreement from casting their votes
47. Special measures for enrolment of women voters.— (1) The Commission shall annually publish disaggregated data of registered men and women voters in each National Assembly and Provincial Assembly constituency highlighting the difference in number of registered men and women voters.
(2) Where the variation in the disaggregated data under sub-section (1) is more than ten percent in a constituency, the Commission shall take special measures to reduce such variation.
(3) The measures referred to in sub-section (2) shall include action to expedite the issuance of National Identity Cards for women of such constituency by National Database and Registration Authority and for their enrolment as voters in the relevant electoral rolls by the Commission.
91. Statement about turnout of women voters.— (1) The Presiding Officer shall prepare a gender disaggregated statement of voters showing total number of men and women voters at the polling station and the total votes cast by men and women voters.
(2) The Presiding Officer shall send the gender disaggregated statement of voters to the Returning Officer and to the Commission at the time of communication of result to the Returning Officer and the Commission.
(3) The Presiding Officer may, at any stage on the polling day during or after the polling, prepare and send a special report to the Returning Officer and to the Commission if he has reason to believe that women voters have been restrained from exercising their right to vote based on any express or implied agreement.