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Published Date: Sep 24, 2014

Constraints in Women’s Political Participation: Analysis from General Election 2008-13

Summary

Democracy is still in the nascent stages in Pakistan and the country faces  a very basic problem of disenfranchisement of women. In the national elections of 2008 held in Pakistan, there were 564 female polling stations where reportedly not even a single ballot paper was stamped. These polling stations were spread all over the country, and 85% of them were situated in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK). These were regions where there was collective opposition from the tribespeople, political and religious parties to the casting of votes by females.

In order to prevent a similar situation arising again, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), civil society organizations and the media took the responsibility of voter mobilization and  awareness raising on women’s political participation in these areas before the general elections of 2013. However, the outcome of these efforts cannot be assessed due to unavailability of polling station level results even twelve months after the general election.

This brief details why there is an urgent need to publish polling station specific data, which is normally documented in Form XVI of the ECP. All by Returning Officers (ROs) at the constituency level are required to fill out this form and send it to the ECP, and the Commission thus has the data available. Unless this data is made public, it is not possible to assess if women were able to exercise their right to vote in all regions. Indeed, if this were not the case, it would call into question the validity of election results in certain constituencies.