The Election Commission of India (ECI) hosted a virtual meet of the ‘Asian Regional Forum’ on the theme “Making our Elections Inclusive, Accessible and Participative” at Nirvachan Sadan. The Regional Forum meet was a precursor to the “Summit for Electoral Democracy” to be hosted by the National Electoral Institute of Mexico in the coming month.
Chief Election Commissioner of India Shri Rajiv Kumar, in his keynote address said that democracy and democratic institutions flourish when all groups of people are fully represented.
He mentioned that over 7.7 million PwD voters and 15 million 80+ voters have been mapped by ECI for targeted interventions and meaningful outreach.
ECI is constantly striving towards achieving 100 percent mapping of all PwD and senior citizen voters. The participation of women in the first Indian election was 78 million i.e. 45%. Over seven decades and 17 national elections later, women’s participation has exceeded that of men and the gender gap has not only closed but reversed to +0.17% in 2019. India has witnessed a 235.72% increase in female electors since the 1971 election.
This Asian Regional Forum (ARF) meet had two sessions. The first session on ‘Inclusive Elections: Enhancing Participation of Youth, Gender and Citizens in Remote Areas’ was co-chaired by the Chief Election Commissioner from Mauritius and Nepal. The second session on ‘Accessible Elections: Enhancing Participation of Persons with Disabilities & Senior Citizens’ was co-chaired by the Commissioner, COMELEC, Philippines and CEC of Uzbekistan.
As part of this ‘Global Summit for Democracy’, five Regional Forums namely Africa, America, Asia, Europe, and countries of the Arab States have been created. India hosted the Asian Regional Forum meet of the EMBs to reflect upon the changing geo-politics, emerging technologies and their use in election management in view of the challenges presented by COVID-19 pandemic.