Historically, Pakistani women have struggled for equality and political rights. This can be traced to the colonial era. According to the 2017 provisional census data, women constitute 49 percent of Pakistan’s 200 million citizens, while the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) published electoral rolls suggest that 12 million fewer women are registered as voters than men. Of a total of 97 million citizens registered as voters, 54 million are men, while only42 million women are registered as voters. This gender-gap indicates that the women’s citizenship issue is chronically deep-rooted and requires extraordinary institutional, political and civil society efforts for them to be able to participate in the upcoming general elections. A majority of the women who are not registered as voters do not have a National Identity Card (NIC), which is a prerequisite for voter registration. Any effort to improve women’s voter registration, therefore, cannot be successful without active engagement and support from the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA). The under-registration of women voters is symptomatic of a lack of knowledge and understanding, as well as cultural resistance among both men and women about the equal rights and importance of women’s participation in electoral and political processes. Even though ECP has created a conducive environment in favour of women registration, other state actors including NADRA and political parties need to work together to redress this issue before the elections are upon us. This issue has the potential to create yet another controversy — adding to our existing social, political and economic challenges. With the seventh largest voters’ population in the world, Pakistan’s voters’ gender-ratio has been on a constant decline since 2008. During the 2008 General Elections, the voters’ ratio was 79 women per 100 men, while in 2013 it further declined to 77 women per 100 men. Though the registration authority has exhibited willingness to address the gender-gap on our electoral rolls; NADRA lacks the capacity to cater to this daunting task. More proactive and targeted measures are required for firstly identifying the pockets of the population with under-registration, and then subsequently facilitating women to register ahead of the 2018 general elections. Currently, with the present strength of NADRA registration centres (NRCs) and mobile registration vans (MRVs), there are numerous issues that women tend to face at these service points. Issues such as excessive documentation requirements, varying conditions requiring blood relatives to be present with the applicant, receipt of a fee, server or network connectivity problems and other such issues worsen the situation Issues such as excessive documentation requirements, varying conditions requiring blood relatives to be present with the applicant, receipt of a fee, server or network connectivity problems and other such issues worsen the situation. Perhaps due to these reasons, the newly re-appointed chairman NADRA conducted a sting operation in Karachi at one of the NRCs, and subsequently took remedial actions for better service delivery. However, according to a news channel, the situation at this specific centre went back to the routine after just a few days as citizens continued to face issues in registering themselves. Very recently during Senate’s 274th session, the State Minister for Interior acknowledged the increasing voters’ gender-gap and quoted that NADRA has dedicated mobile registration vans and centres for women registration. However, given the overwhelming number of unregistered women, such measures will not suffice. Earlier in 2011-12, NADRA managed to register a large number of women before the elections — adopting innovative strategies including the use of man-packs for far-stretched conservative communities and door-to-door visits. Such efforts are required yet again, to at least minimise the gender-gap, and enable women to exercise their right to vote. Moreover, this determination should not just end with the finalization of the electoral rolls in May, 2018, but efforts should continue even after elections to empower women in the political and electoral spheres. The writer is a researcher on parliamentary and electoral affairs and a Chevening scholar. He tweets @dnananjum Published in Daily Times, March 14th 2018.