A certain percentage of seats in Pakistan’s parliament are set aside for female candidates. Here, I’ll examine the effects of Pakistan’s political quota for women. Governments use percentages to boost the proportion of women in the legislative and executive branches. In a small number of advanced industrial democracies, such as Germany and Norway, a few political parties have adopted gender quotas for legislative elections since the late 1970s. As a result, more than 60% of nations have at least 10% female representation in their national legislatures, but fewer have broken through the 20% and 30% thresholds. Only approximately 10% of sovereign states have more than 30% women in parliament by February 2006.

Constitutional provisions from 1970, 1973, and 1985 granted a small number of reserved seats for women in the province and national assemblies, typically 5 to 10 percent, and through indirect elections by the assembly members. As required by the 1985 constitution, reservations lapsed following three general elections in 1988. As a result, women’s representation in the general elections of 1997 ranged from 4% in provincial assemblies (2 out of 460) to 2% in the Senate (2 out of 87) and 4% in the National Assembly (7 out of 217). Women made up only 10% of the membership of local councils in 1993, when 5–12% of the seats were reserved for them through indirect elections by the panels themselves (8,246 out of 75,556).

According to the constitution, 60 of the 342 National Assembly seats (or 17%) are set aside for women. First-past-the-post voting is used to elect the 272 general seats in single-member constituencies throughout Pakistan’s four central provinces, Federally Administered Tribal Areas, and the capital region of Islamabad. In addition, there are 1tenmore seats set up for non-Muslims. Below is a breakdown of how the reserved seats for women are distributed throughout the four provinces. Punjab has 35 seats, Sindh has 14, Khyber Pakhtun Khuwa has eight cores, and Balochistan has seven seats (3 seats). Via an indirect proportional representation list system, political parties submit their lists of women candidates for reserved seats to the Election Commission before the election. This results in the election of women to these seats.

The reserved seats are distributed to the political parties in proportion to the number of general seats won by these parties in each province after the official declaration of the election results for available seats. (Article 51, Constitution). The Report of the Commission of Inquiry for Women (August 1997), the National Plan for Action (September 1998), and the National Policy for Development and Empowerment of Women (NPA) are three documents that provide an overview of Pakistan’s efforts to carry out its obligations under international treaties and conventions to promote women’s free, equal, and full political participation (March 2002).

According to the Commission Report and the NPA, thirty-three percent of seats in municipal and national elective bodies should be reserved for women through combined elections and direct voting. Additionally, they advocate for adopting policies that would make it easier for women to exercise their right to vote. Nonetheless, the National Policy requires “affirmative action to establish a desired level of representation of women in the Senate and the National and Provincial Legislatures.”

The military government adopted a Devolution of Power Plan in March 2000 as part of the democratization process. Its crucial component included a 33 percent female quota in the district, tehsil, and union councils, the local legislative bodies tasked with approving by-laws, taxes, long- and short-term development plans, and annual budgets. The union councils also make it easier for citizen community boards and cooperatives to create and run, helping Pakistan achieve its main development objective of reducing poverty.

In addition to running for limited seats, women also ran for open seats in the union, tehsil, and district councils, as well as for Nazim and Naib Nazim positions. In total, women won 36,187 of the 40,049 local council seats designated for them, including 11 elected Union Council Nazims, one elected Naib Nazim, and two elected District Nazims. The government supported giving women a third of the seats on local councils, but its stance on women’s representation in the Senate and at national and provincial assemblies was different. The National Reconstruction Bureau (NRB) declared that 17 of the 100 Senate seats, or 17 percent of the total, would be reserved for women. In the National Assembly, 60 of the 342 seats, or 18 percent, would be divided into the four provinces in the following order.

The quality of women’s representation cannot be improved by gender quotas alone, as the world’s experience has demonstrated. They will only function once changed to accommodate women’s direct representation, where more women would win elections instead of occupying reserved seats. For example, the number of women in general seats increased to 16 in 2008 from roughly 13 in 2002, but only eight gained seats in the National Assembly in 2013.

Although having a statistically more considerable parliamentary representation, this negative tendency indicated less room for women in the political process. As a result, immediate action is required to level the playing field for women in the electoral process. As a result, they successfully created a women’s parliamentary caucus (WPC) and passed essential women’s rights legislation. The Protection Against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act, the Establishment of Benazir Income Support Programme Act, which proved to be a helpful income support initiative, the Criminal Law (Second Amendment) Act for Acid Crimes, the Prevention of Anti-Women Practices (Criminal Law Amendment) Act, and the National Censorship Policy Act were among them.

On the house floor, they addressed various women’s issues in addition to legislation. For instance, most of the discussion about governance in these areas would not have been complete without the advocacy for women IDPs following military operations in Swat, gender-responsive relief efforts, the treatment and rehabilitation of burn victims, and meaningful debate on budgetary allocations in health and education. They have gone a step further with the present mandate. The first project of its sort in South Asia, Pakistan today has four provincial WPCs in addition to a federal one. To promote legislation that considers gender and the successful implementation of laws and policies that affect the lives of women and families, 85 female parliamentarians and about 130 female MPAs from more than 20 political parties are now working together.

Regrettably, qualitative measures of women’s significant political participation remained low despite the quota. For example, women made up 22 percent of the federal parliament, but from 2002 to 2007, they could only pass the Women’s Protection Act. However, during the subsequent term of 2008–2013, women made more strides, supervising the implementation of policies and bringing up significant issues in all legislative bodies.

A strategy framework that investigates strategies for overcoming the cultural and institutional hurdles to gender balance in political representation is required to achieve women’s full and equal participation in decision-making structures and processes at all levels of governance. Three tactical approaches—awareness-raising, capacity-building, and research and documentation—are recommended to address the cultural obstacles to women’s full participation in citizenship. On the other hand, it is advised that the best way to overcome structural barriers is to advocate for policy reform in political parties, electoral processes, and campaign financing.


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