The report released by the Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) regarding Pakistan's recent general elections provides a detailed analysis of the electoral process, with a particular focus on women's participation. FAFEN, an independent election watchdog, deployed a substantial number of observers—5,664 in total, comprising 3,913 men, 1,740 women, and 11 transgender persons—to monitor a significant number of the polling stations, overseeing the electoral proceedings at 22,656 out of 90,675 total polling stations spread across 265 constituencies, which accounts for approximately 25% of all polling stations.
One of the report's key findings is the discrepancy between the increase in women's voter registration and their actual turnout on election day. Despite concerted efforts by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and other stakeholders to bridge the gender gap in voter registration, these initiatives did not translate into higher voter turnout among women. The gender gap in voter registration narrowed from 12.4 million in 2018 to 9.9 million in 2024 through targeted initiatives aimed at encouraging more women to register to vote. However, women's voter turnout remained tepid at 43%, compared to a 52% turnout among male voters.
The report underscores the necessity of not just focusing on voter registration but also on fostering an environment that promotes active participation among women in the electoral process. FAFEN suggests that the ECP, political parties, and civil society need to implement initiatives that not only enhance gender equality in voter registration but also encourage and facilitate the active participation of women on election day. This report highlights the importance of sustained efforts to address the existing gender gaps in certain regions, ensuring equal access and opportunities for women to exercise their democratic rights. The goal is to achieve true gender parity in electoral participation, which requires prioritizing and addressing the barriers women face in voting.