Azmat Hussain

Buner district is among those districts, where less women poll votes as compared to males.

Even number of registered women voters is 11 percent less than males despite the women population being higher than males. On the other hand, right to vote depends on having national identity card. However, more than 10 million women across Pakistani have no identity cards.

Analysis of 2018, elections turnout suggests that there women voter’s turnout was 9 percent less than males or about 11 million females did not cast their votes. Similarly, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa also witnessed lesser women turnout in both the general elections as well the local bodies polls.

Buner district is also facing the issue of low women turnout like rest of the Pakistan.

Najib Khan, an official of the Election Commission of Pakistan said that there 11 percent more male voters registered in the district as compared to the females.

The official said that lack of education, absence of transportation in remote areas and lack of awareness votes.

He said that ECP district office had in collaboration with lawyers and education department has setup district voters’ education committee. This committee works for raising awareness about importance of vote among local community, schools and colleges.

“The committee activities were closed due to the pandemic; however, we are now hoping restart them again,” he said.

According to ECP, there 598,926 registered voters in the districts and of this 55.36 per cent area males and 44.63 per cent females and the difference between both genders was more than 10 per cent or 55, 712 votes.

Muhammad Suliman, a social activist from Chagarzai area said that the most of the women were unable to get their identity cards due to remoteness of the area. He said that it was very difficult for them to approach a Nadra center in far off areas. “Most of the locals work in Gulf countries and to get identity cards, they have suffered many days at these centers,” he said.

He said that when he approached the Nadra center for his wife identity card, he had to wait for hours in a long queue. However, on his turn after checking of documents, he was asked for get a form attested from a grade 17 officer and when he reached the nearby primary school, it was closed,” he said. He said that he was forced to go home and come next day to complete his wife documentation.

Mr Suliman said that in mountainous areas, most of the males were aboard for work, and it was very difficult for women to go through these processes on their own.

Muhammad Daud Khan, a social activist from Manndar tehsil said that local government system has a big role to in making of this issue. In the past, he said that, people used to get identity card on the basis of nikahnama issued by the registrar. However, he added that now everybody has to go to the village council office to get computerized nikahnama.

He said that secretaries of all the union councils of Manndar area were sitting in one office and it was really difficult for women from far off areas to approach it for getting identity cards.

Khurshid, a women belonging to Jabu village said that it has been eight years to her marriage; however, he still lacked identity card. She said that her husband was in Gulf for work while her mother was unable to help her with getting an identity card.

Currently Nadra male and female offices were functional were zonal headquarters Sawari. In addition to this, offices were also functional in Manndar, Chagharzai and Khadukhel while a mobile service performed its duty in different areas.

Ijaz Khan, assistant director of Nadra zonal office Buner said that two new offices will soon be opened in Khadukhel and Daggar, bringing number of their offices to eight.

He said that a large number of people of received identity cards during the internal displacement and Covid-19 vaccination. However, he said that 95 per cent of locals will identity cards by 2023.

According to 2019 figures, number of women in district was higher than males as there were 494,137 women and 489,420 males in the district.

However, the number of women with identity cards is far less than those of males in the district.

The federal Ministry of Planning, Development had earlier on International Women’s Day this year announced the launch of the National Gender Policy Framework to strengthen the foundation of gender equality at the national level.

The ministry acknowledged the fact that it was important for men and women in Pakistan to have equal opportunities to advance in every field.

The Gender Index Gap indicates that Pakistan ranked 153rd out of 156 countries in terms of gender equality. Politically, women’s participation was lower than men while in elections, women’s turnout was also lower than men.

In addition to this, barriers like jirgas and agreements were also used to exclude women from engaging in the political process, while the constitution of Pakistan which was the basis of the parliamentary system of government, allowed every adult woman and man to freely exercise her right to vote.

Similarly, the constitution of the country guarantees the participation of men and women in decision making on the basis of equality.

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