Pakistan Woman in Politics
Pakistani woman played very important role in politics as woman has important role in Pakistan movement. Pakistani woman has important role in politics to make decision regarding women rights at national level. In the early days of Pakistan experiments with democracy and representative government have not been very encouraging for Pakistani women. The tradition of reserved seats in national and provincial assemblies helped in brining women of Pakistan in politics but until 1990 they had only 10% seats in national assembly and only 5% seats in the provincial assemblies.
While it becomes clear that women have played a major role in the politics of Pakistan, and have provided leadership on occasion, their level of participation remains limited. In successive assemblies there have been women representatives, but the few that have managed to get there are from a very narrow privileged section of the society. Most of them have inherited their constituency from their family. At the popular level there is no bias electing women leaders.
Apart from Fatima Jinnah, there was Benazir Bhutto, who was elected the Islamic World’s first woman Prime Minister in 1988. In NWFP, a socially conservative province, Begum Nasim Wali Khan, was the leader of the opposition in the provincial assembly. Their gender was hardly an issue, although their opponents tried to make it so. In these cases, even the religious conservatives had no qualms in supporting women leaders. Fatima Jinnah was backed by the Jamaat-e-Islami, while Benazir Bhutto had the support of Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam. However, despite this role of women political leaders since 1947, the representation of women in the assemblies has never reached a double figure.
The question then arises as to why women continue to be marginalized in the political process, despite the adoption of adult franchise.
The answer lies in the traditional culture norms of the society, reflected in the very low literacy rate for women (about 30%), and the lack of will of the successive governments to increase women’s participation in the political process of Pakistan. Those few women politician represented in the assemblies were either from politically influential families who had inherited the constituencies of their forefathers, or had ingratiated themselves with the ruler of the day. Even the election of a woman Prime Minister in 1988 and 1993 did not make a significant difference to the marginalization of Pakistani women in politics.
Since 1990, women’s reserved seats have ceased to exist, and as a result women’s representation in the assemblies has fallen so low, that they can be counted on the fingers of one hand. The recent decision of the government to have 33% seats for women at the local government level will go a long way in increasing the participation of women in politics in Pakistan. Their increased participation will make decision-making at the local government level more gender sensitive, and would prepare the ground for a similar change at the national level.