Nation-building processes cannot work and development goals cannot be achieved if women are denied meaningful political participation. To ensure this, Pakistan’s Parliament introduced in 2002 a 17 percent gender quota in all legislative houses.
But despite accounting for 22 percent of the federal parliament, from 2002 to 2007, women could not achieve much in terms of lawmaking except the Women’s Protection Act. In the subsequent mandate of 2008-2013, however, women made more progress, overseeing policy implementation and raising important issues in all Houses.
Gender quotas alone, as global experience has shown, cannot transform the quality of women’s representation. They won’t work unless they are adapted into women’s direct representation, in which more women would win elections rather than taking up reserved seats.