Women in politics: Gaining ground for progressive outcomes in Pakistan

Academic Paper / Article

December 7, 2018

Women in politics: Gaining ground for progressive outcomes in Pakistan


Inclusive politics remains an elusive goal in Pakistan, which has a history of military interference in governance institutions, unstable elected governments and internecine conflict. Women’s voices, within the corridors of power or as constituents whose interests must be accounted for, have been weak but are growing stronger.

Activism, led by the women’s movement and civil society advocacy groups since the 1980s, has yielded results. The state has opened up democratic spaces to women in elected legislatures and local bodies through an expanded reserved seats quota; and recently legislators revised electoral rules to mandate a minimal level of women’s greater inclusion as candidates and voters.

This paper aims to contribute to the growing body of literature around how feminist mobilisation and political voice leads to progressive policy outcomes. It does this through exploring three questions:

How did the women’s movement lead to the decision to restore and increase the quota for women in elected bodies?

How have women used their elected positions, and worked in caucuses, to promote their interests? What other measures will further strengthen their political voice?

Can we gain insight into pro-women policymaking by looking at women’s activism, political voice, and other factors within a broader contextual framework to identify patterns that may predict further progress?

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Ayesha Khan and Sana Naqvi
Institute of Development Studies
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