Gender Issues in Women as Voters

There are various issues for women as voters. Here I am going to discuss gender issues in women as voters.

Perception of Female Candidates

Until the beginning of the 1990s, many female candidates felt compelled to steer clear of “women’s issues.” Female candidates needed to be careful how much they emphasized their support for issues that might make them appear to be weaker candidates.

The fear of many female candidates was that voters would perceive them as less credible on foreign affairs issues. Such as the economy and defense if they focused on issues that were stereotypically female or “soft” issues such as education.

This fear is substantiated by evidence that, even today, voters perceive male and female candidates with a gendered lens.

Although this is less often the case than in the past, studies show that voters still associate certain issues and abilities with each sex.

While these perceptions are changing for women candidates, there is still a “credibility factor” that female candidates must contend with when it comes to certain political issues.

Women candidates have a particularly difficult time with this because some voters still perceive women as less politically powerful than men.

One way that the media perpetuates this stereotype is in the way female candidates are depicted in the news. Studies have found that the media focuses on the personal lives and physical appearance of female candidates, more so than they do on male candidates.

In America, after a 72-year struggle, women garnered the right to vote. But even after women were able to cast a ballot in local and national elections, many women did not exercise their rights.

Voting and Social Context

It was not until 1968 that women began to vote at the same rate as men did. However, even with the increase in women participating in the electoral process, they did not vote in a manner that dictated an isolated voting constituency.

The emerging women’s rights movement was a movement in the 1960s and 1970s that aimed to increase the political, legal, and economic rights of women.

Until the 1980s, women voters were viewed as more conservative than male voters. This was mainly attributed to women’s primary roles as wives and mothers. Prior to the 1970s, the long-held assumption that female voters tended to be more conservative than male voters panned out at the ballot box.

The history in Europe is evident that women voters have been very considerate about their rights when voting in favor or against a candidate: Whether it was Tony Blare or Gordon Brown.

One of the most dramatic recent gender shifts affecting voting behavior was seen after the terrorist attacks on 9/11. Before this event, men appeared to be more concerned about security and war issues than women.

This shift suggests a major change in voting behavior because women have moved away from issues such as abortion and towards security issues and protecting families.

Women Voters Situation in Pakistan

In Pakistan, across the country, women face threats and violence in the exercise of their basic right of franchise.

On May 8, 2013, for instance, pamphlets were handed out in Miranshah in North Waziristan Agency of FATA, warning tribesmen not to let women vote in the General Election of May 11, 2013, and threatening punishment for those who did.

Further, at the regional level, reports indicated the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Awami National Party (ANP) and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) candidates had also reached an informal agreement to disallow women from voting in general elections for the Lower Dir Provincial Assembly (PA) seat.

However, showing a positive trend, the Gender Election Monitoring (GEM) mission, on May 13, 2013, issued its preliminary report on female electoral participation, observing that a large proportion of Pakistan’s women did come out to vote on May 11, 2013.

A large number of woman voters in Pakistan are missing from the electoral list lastly issued by the Election Commission of Pakistan. More than 12.5 million women have been denied their right to vote in upcoming national elections.

By denying the right to vote to millions of women, the government of Pakistan is strengthening the fundamentalist forces that do not approve of women in mainstream politics.

Women have also faced difficulties in attempting to go to the display centers in order to verify their names and information. Political parties urged the government to hold free and fair elections through an independent election commission that has the consensus from all the political groups of the country.

The government of Pakistan and the Election Commission of Pakistan encourage women voters in Pakistan to participate in elections which is the right of women voters to choose their members for provincial assemblies and national assemblies which take effect on the results of elections.

In the last election, Political parties awarded very few tickets to women in general seats, reflecting patriarchal trends where women are kept out of the public space.

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