Ramsha Jahangir
Ramsha Jahangir

ISLAMABAD: With Lahore in the lead, eight districts in the country account for a gap of over three million between the numbers of male and female voters — more than one fourth of the difference of slightly over 12m in all 136 districts.

An analysis of district-wise data regarding voters, recently uploaded onto the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) official website, reveals that two districts of Punjab — Lahore and Faisalabad — account for a gap of 1.15m voters. The 20 districts with the largest gender gap in registered voters include 17 districts of Punjab, two in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and one in Sindh.

The total number of registered voters in Lahore is 4.90m — 2.77m male and 2.12m female — marking a gap of 648,421 voters. In Faisalabad, the gap is 507,920. The total number of registered voters in the district is around 4m — 2.29m male and 1.78m female voters.

In Gujranwala district, the number of male voters is 1.46m compared to the number of female registered voters — 1.09m. The difference between them comes to 373,291.

In Karachi (West), the number of male and female voters is 943,757 and 610,652 respectively, and the difference between them is 333,105. There is a gap of 318,050 between the male and female voters in Sialkot district.

The situation is similar in Rahim Yar Khan district, where the number of male voters is 1.25m and women voters is 0.939m, bringing the difference up to 0.313m.

In Sheikhupura, the number of male and female voters is 0.910m and 0.638m respectively and the gap between them is 0.271m. The gap between the number of male and female voters in Kasur district is 0.262m.

Sargodha district in Punjab and Peshawar district in KP have a gap of 0.245m each between the number of male and female voters. There are 1.17m male voters and 0.931m women in Sargodha, while Peshawar 0.896m male voters 0.651m female voters.

In Bahawalnagar, the number of registered male voters is 0.824m and the number of women voters, 0.615m. The gap between them comes up to 0.208m. Vehari has 0.838m male voters and 0.634m female voters. Okara and Multan districts have a gender gap of over 200,000 voters each. Other districts recording a gap of around 200,000 voters include Rawalpindi, Bahawalpur, Mardan, Jhang, Khanewal and Gujrat.

The districts with a gender gap of over 100,000 voters include North Waziristan (Fata), Charsadda, Lower Dir, Mansehra, Swabi (KP), Mandi Bahauddin, Nankana Sahib, Narowal and Pakpattan (Punjab).

In FR Bannu, of the total 10,497 registered voters, the number of female voters is as low as 2,602. In FR DI Khan, the total number of voters is 26,146 — 15,629 male and 10,517 female voters. In FR Kohat, the total number of voters is 50,713, of which only 18,198 are female.

In the 2013 general elections, the gap between male and female voters was 10.97m which jumped to 11.65m in September 2015, at the start of the local government elections.

There were 86.24m registered voters in 2013 — 48.61m of them men and 37.63m women. The figures released in September 2015, showed that the number of registered voters had increased to 93.06m. There were 52.36m male voters and 40.7m female voters which meant that the registration of women voters had not kept pace with that of men. The disturbing trend continues and the difference has now risen up to 12.17m. The total number of voters is 97.01m — 54.5m of them men and 42.42m women.

In 2002, the voters’ ratio was 86 women per 100 men. In 2008, it had fallen to 79 women per 100 men. In 2013, it had fallen further to 77 women per 100 men. The ratio improved in 1970 and 1988 with 87 women per 100 men. According to the demographic profile of the population as per the 1998 census, the ratio should ideally be 96 women per 100 men.

A senior ECP official said that political parties should play the lead role in encouraging women to enrol as voters. Citizens in the 18-25 years age group should be targeted because under-registration in this age group is proportionately higher than compared to other age groups.

Published in Dawn, November 12th, 2017