NCSW to depute observers in 50 districts to monitor women turnout

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ISLAMABAD: National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW) will depute almost 200 observers in 50 districts around the country to monitor the turnout of women, especially in the constituencies where female voters’ turnout remained less than 10 per cent last time, as well as areas where female candidates fielded on general seats.

NCSW has prepared a checklist for the specific districts to monitor women. The list mentions that polling stations are to be situated at an accessible place, have the provision of basic facilities like washrooms, drinking water, proper facilities for pregnant women, those of old age and with disabilities, transgenders, as well as, privacy and proper security arrangements.

NCSW Chairperson Khawar Mumtaz said that they would also endeavour to ensure no pressure is put on women to cast vote according to the wishes of their family members, polling agents or security officials deputed at the polling stations.

Khawar stated that their observers would conduct one-day pre-election monitoring of the districts they have pointed out and analyse the situation there. “Another key area under consideration is to see if there any violent incident in the specific areas and if so, what is its impact on women casting their vote,” she added.

“Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN), a non-government organisation has offered the commission to train its observers according to NCSW checklist while Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) would also follow the same checklist for its team,” she told APP.

The commission head said that the whole process would be conducted in collaboration with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) as their sole purpose is to ensure maximum participation of women in the upcoming general elections.

She further informed that they have finalised their lists of observers and forwarded them to ECP but they were directed to apply from provinces, for which they have completed documentation and would hopefully submit it on Monday.

“We have to consider all the aspects which can influence the voting trend of women in the upcoming general elections and clear any hindrance in their way, aiming to include them in mainstream politics for which the right to vote is the first step”, she remarked.

19,000 FAFEN OBSERVERS TO BE DEPLOYED:

FAFEN will deploy 19,000 observers across 272 National Assembly consistencies to observe the voting and counting process at 85 per cent of the total polling stations during 2018 polls.

Acceding to FAFEN’s request, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has directed the provincial election commissioners (PECs) in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and Sindh to issue accreditation cards to the observers after fulfillment of all formalities.

The FAFEN will deploy 9,884 observers in Punjab, 4,225 in Sindh, 3,549 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (including FATA), 1,117 in Balochistan and 225 in the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT).

FAFEN’s accredited non-partisan and trained citizens will observe the elections day environment outside the polling stations, incidents of electoral and political violence, preparations for the polling, voting process inside the booths and stations, ballot, vote counting, ECP form-filling process and the barriers to women voting.

The FAFEN observers will also be trained to gather the required data and documentation from the assigned polling stations to conduct Parallel Vote Tabulations (PVTs) in up to 272 National Assembly constituencies.

These PVTs will provide a comparison of a statistically-valid sample of polling stations’ vote-tallies gathered by the observers against the official copies of the election forms. It will also observe the vote consolidation process at the offices of returning officers (ROs) in constituencies through 272 consistency coordinators. Based on its observation, FAFEN will be publicly release its preliminary report on July 27, 2018.

In addition to the polling day observation, the FAFEN has been observing the pre-election phase through 272 constituency coordinators and 130 district coordinators to provide an assessment of the political environment and implementation of election-related laws, rules and regulations since January 2018. The purpose of this observation is to contribute to the evolution of an election process that is free, fair, transparent and accountable, in accordance with the requirements laid out in the Elections Act, 2017.

Based on its observation, FAFEN has produced periodic updates, information briefs and reports in an effort to provide objective, unbiased and evidence-based information about the quality of electoral and political processes to the ECP, political parties, media, civil society organisations and the citizens.