Causes of Low Women Political Participation
A Case Study of Dhurnal, Dholar (Chakwal) and Laliani (Sargodha)
The focus of my research is to investigate the reasons of low women political participation and issue of barring women to vote in three locations Dhurnal and Dholar in Chakwal and Laliani in Sargodha. Constitution of Pakistan ensures women equal and full political participation but their role in electoral and political process is significantly low. Empirical researches suggest that socio-economic reasons including gender, caste, class and extreme religious interpretations results for low women political participation. According to Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), there are over 12 million less women voters as compared to men in electoral lists in Pakistan and without filling the gap in electoral list, the equal women political participation is not possible. The women voter turnout in 2018 General Elections remained only 40 percent with only 21 of 46 million registered women voters used the right to vote. Furthermore, there are many areas including Dhurnal, Dholar and Laliani where the women voter turnout remained significantly low and women were even barred to use their right to vote. The research investigates the hurdles in low women political participation and low voter turnout of these areas with the help of primary and secondary data.
There is a research gap in the field of women political participation and no comprehensive qualitative research has carried out in Dhurnal, Dholar and Laliani to investigate the situation of low women political participation. I have conducted semi-structured interviews with fifteen (15) women in each location and five (5) interviews from civil society representatives who have extensive experience working on women political participation. I have also gathered the secondary data from election observation reports of different civil society organizations and voter turnout data from ECP.
The data reveals due to gender discrimination in the area, religious interpretations, community collective decisions to bar women to vote, issues in getting CNICs and voter registration, low literacy rate, lack of civic education and distance of polling stations are main reasons of low women political participation and low women turnout. State has introduced progressive legislation including 10 percent women voter turnout requirement in each constituency, such legislations helped the women to increase their participation in electoral and political participation however still there is need to introduce and implement a comprehensive approach to address all hurdles including socio-economic to ensure electoral participation of women.
Key Words: Women political participation, Women voter turnout, Right to vote
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