Centre for Civic Education Pakistan arranged a conversation with youth on “Making sense of Electoral Demography of Pakistan” on Wednesday Nov., 8, 2017 in Islamabad as part of its Electoral Literacy Campaign. This topic was all the more relevant in the current scenario as the preliminary results of the Census-2017 have been announced and the Election Commission of Pakistan has also released the updated data of the Electoral Rolls.
Executive Director of the Centre, Ms. Hafsa Zafar shared some interesting statistics by dissecting the results of Electoral Rolls on the basis of Age, Gender and Provincial/federal area wise. While talking about the census report said that the Census results have busted three popular myths; Firstly they have exposed the official claim of contained 1.8 percent average annual population growth rate, secondly the Census confirmed that country still remains an over whelming rural society, and thirdly there are ‘missing women’ as the gender gap remain 2.47% against the popular claim of women being equal in numbers or in majority. Interestingly the gender gap is higher (4 %) in urban and lower (2 %) in rural Pakistan.
Chief Guest Mr.Wilson Lee talked about the global trends in democracy and the importance of civic engagement for a healthy democracy and appreciated Centre’s efforts.
Mr. Aoun Sahi Bureau Chief “Channel 24” discussed about the role of media on youth participation in electoral reforms. He emphasised that the youth should take lead to create events raising challenges that youth face in participation in electoral processes so that the media focuses its attention on them. He said media is more interested in covering events than issues and if youth will raise this issue it will get coverage.
Mr. Kaleemullah Breach President Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association stressed on the need that students must know about their rights as in constitution.
Mr. Shafique Chaudhry Member National Commission for Human Rights spoke about the electoral participation from the lens of rights as he said vote is a democratic right and if this right is suppressed it leads to frustration, intolerance which leads to violent expression.
Mr. Murtaza Noor Coordinator Inter University Consortium for Promotion of Social Sciences said social empowerment is closely related to political empowerment. He said universities play an important role in promoting electoral literacy.
Almost all the speakers urged the importance and revival of Students Unions as they played an important role in training students to participate in practical politics. The participants also discussed the challenges they face for being a part of the electoral processes. However it was agreed that empowering and engaging youth in electoral processes is the only way forward
for a strong political future of Pakistan as young people i.e. 18-35 years comprises 44% of total registered voters and if this percentage of voters is ignored then a viable democracy is not possible. The need of taking positive steps to reduce Gender GAP of 12% by motivating more and more women to get them registered as voters was regarded very important as Election Act 2017 will nullify the results of election in any constituency where women voters’ turnout will be less than 10%. Similarly the Registration Gap also needs to be addressed and although it is country wide but it is highest among young people of 18-25 years therefore more and more youth needs to get involved in electoral processes. The Centre also decided to celebrate National Voters Day for “Voter’s Registration” on December 7, 2017. The Centre also introduced its dedicated website for Electoral Literacy Campaign www.citizenswire.com to facilitate youth and women to actively and effectively participate in electoral processes and make informed choices as it is our RIGHT TO BE GOVERNED DEMOCRATICALLY and to make this right meaningful we need to learn about democracy and more importantly understand our role.