Female officers continue to face discrimination

No female police officers appointed for any of 17 seats of Regional and City Police Officers across Punjab

KHALID RASHEED June 22, 2024
A female police officer tying to stop the protesting lady health workers. PHOTO: ONLINE


For a patriarchal society which preordains domestic drudgery as the default fate for nearly half the country’s population, women’s struggle for acceptance in the public sphere rarely ends once they step outside the four walls of the house, since a much more sinister barrier, the glass ceiling, serves the furtive agenda of preventing them from excelling in anything other than cooking or childcare.

Evidence for such gender politics can be found in the state departments of the country’s largest province, Punjab, where despite the jurisdiction of an incumbent female Chief Minister, gender discrimination continues to jeopardize the career prospects of countless serving female bureaucrats, whose postings and promotions in the civil and police institutions remain unjustifiably low.

Once such female bureaucrat was a Grade 19 officer, who had been consistently denied a posting to a higher rank administrative position ever since the caretaker government took charge of the province. “Unfortunately, the current government is exploiting female officers by denying them their rightful promotions,” exclaimed the officer, who eventually decided to apply for a federal transfer from Punjab.

According to the records obtained by The Express Tribune, female bureaucrats occupy only 55 posts out of a total of 300 civil and administrative openings in Punjab, while no female police officers are appointed for any of the 17 seats of Regional Police Officers and City Police Officers across 41 districts of Punjab.

Expressing her discontentment at the situation, Nasira Javed Iqbal, Justice (R) of the Lahore High Court, shed light on the ironic fact that women were allocated a 10 per cent quota in the Civil Service Examinations. “Following the election of Punjab’s first ever female Chief Minister (CM), Maryam Nawaz Sharif, it was hoped that women’s issues would be addressed on a priority basis.

Sadly, this has not been the case. There should be scope for women to be posted in the police and civil services. If the CM can keep two women in the cabinet as Ministers, then what is wrong with appointing female Commissioners, Deputy Commissioners, District Police Officers, and Regional Police Officers?” questioned Iqbal.

Seconding Iqbal, Rabia Bajwa, Vice President of the Lahore High Court Bar Association, felt that despite Articles 26 and 27 of the Constitution clearly enlisting equal access to jobs and postings as a fundamental right for all citizens, the current government had not been able to devise a single policy, which can be termed ‘women-friendly’. “Appointing only a few influential women to advisory positions is a cosmetic move. Until or unless, the government brings policies to empower women from ordinary families, no real change can be expected.

When a woman takes charge of the government, it becomes imperative for her to be cognizant of complaints of gender discrimination and to ensure that women’s issues are addressed according to the law,” asserted Bajwa.

“Men and women joining the civil or police service should be inducted on the basis of open merit and should get equal opportunities for postings,” said Former IG Punjab Police, Ahmed Naseem.

Speaking to The Express Tribune on the matter, the Provincial Information Minister Punjab Uzma Bukhari denied the speculations that women officers were being exploited under the government of a female ruler. “Those who do good work are given postings on the basis of merit without any discrimination.”


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