Gender parity in politics

Women parliamentarians have consistently outperformed their male counterparts in the country

Editorial June 23, 2018

It is extraordinary how beliefs about traditional gender roles in Pakistan continue to shape the way both men and women view the participation of women in electoral politics. Over the years women are certainly better represented in the federal and provincial legislatures than they were in the past but they are still at the mercy of political parties which, despite the presence of more inclusive legislation, and are glossed over as far as official party tickets are concerned. Few are fortunate enough to gain a berth automatically, while the majority of women poll contenders have to face a myriad of hurdles. Unless mindsets are changed, Pakistani women will continue to rely on the enforcement of measures such as quotas and reserved seats based on gender. What we need to do is to find better ways to increase Pakistani women’s political representation in the future. They currently constitute 20% of parliament, occupying as many as 70 seats in the National Assembly and 19 seats in the Senate.

Women parliamentarians have consistently outperformed their male counterparts in the country. Not only have they shown up more often in the upper and lower houses of parliament but they also have been more active and have contributed more substantively to parliamentary business. And it was a woman representing the Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz who recorded 100% attendance in all NA sittings. Considering quorum challenges in the two outgoing houses, it would be worthwhile to free up more parliamentary seats for women in the legislature.

There is much to be gained from electing more women to parliament. Their increased involvement is regarded as important for a healthy democracy. It must be followed by large-scale participation in policy-formulation and decision-making. To ensure higher economic benefits for the country and help form a cohesive, fairer and inclusive society, political parties and civil society representatives need to invite more women to take their place in electoral politics.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 23rd, 2018.

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