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ISLAMABAD: Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) learnt Thursday that ‘complex’ registration procedures practiced by National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) coupled with lack of access to NADRA registration centres were among the major reasons that prevented eligible females mainly in remote areas of Pakistan to obtain their Computerised National Identity Cards (CNICs) and resulted in gender gap between male and female voters.

In an important meeting on the strategic plan to mitigate the gender gap in the electoral rolls, Additional Director General Gender Affairs at ECP Nighat Siddique briefed the commission on the gender gap in voter lists.

Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja chaired the meeting.

In her briefing, the additional DG said, gender gap between male and female voters went down to 10.4 per cent as per the electoral rolls released last month.

She said a pilot project was carried out in the recent past by the ECP in 20 districts to verify the gender gap in the ERs and to identify its reasons.

One of the major reasons for gender gap in voter lists, in the light of the pilot project’s findings, was that a number of female residents of the said districts did not possess CNICs, she said.

The survey further hinted towards complex CNIC registration processes, distant NADRA registration centres, socio–cultural challenges and lack of awareness as major reasons of non-possession of CNICs by the said female population, the meeting was informed.

The meeting was also apprised of the recommendations of the pilot project including special measures to be taken by the ECP, NADRA and ECP’s implementing partners to further mitigate the gender gap in the electoral rolls.

A strategy formed on the basis of the recommendations of the pilot project including the action plan for the next two years providing initiatives to restrain the gender gap, giving out roles to various stakeholders working with ECP along with timelines against each strategic action, were shared in the briefing.

The ECP directed for close coordination between ECP field offices, NADRA field coordinators and implementing partners working at grass root-level with the communities.

It was also stressed to arrange gender sensitive trainings of NADRA and ECP field staff respectively involved with CNICs and voter lists registration.

The meeting also emphasized to devise a monitoring mechanism for vigilant monitoring of the whole process of CNICs and voters’ registration along with the timelines.

The commission appreciated the initiatives and efforts made by the Gender Affairs Wing to decrease the gender gap in electoral rolls and further directed for updates and briefing on the progress on the matter after every two months. Next ECP meeting on this issue is scheduled on June 29 this year.

According to ECP, there are 65,300,735 registered voters in Pakistan, of which, 52,923,962 (55 per cent) voters are male and 118,224,697 (45 per cent) are female.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021