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What is the role of women in Pakistani politics?

Justin Parker

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Cynthia Baker on November 25, 2019

Women only have a limited amount of influence in the politics of Pakistan, and the increase of its role is often the subject of controversy. Pakistan has had a small number of women in leadership roles, (including a female prime minister, Benazir Bhutto), but, unfortunately, the proper place of the woman remains the object of debate. The main obstacle to increasing the role of women in politics is the influence of the religious groups in Pakistan: there are very conservative Muslim clerics who insist that women should remain in the home and not be given positions of authority in the government. It should be noted that not everyone sees things as the clerics do. There are a number of laity and the modernists (especially in the big cities) who believe that women deserve more opportunities for participation, and in the middle are the pragmatists, who want to appease the religious groups, but still finding ways for women to have certain opportunities. There are signs of progress for women: in the year 2011, approximately 22% of the members of the Parliament were women. But the power of the religious groups remains strong, especially in the smaller cities and rural areas. To make the situation worse for the women, the laws that give them greater civil rights or greater access to positions of leadership are often blocked. Even so, the women who serve in the Parliament, as well as a small number of advocacy groups, to try to improve things, so that more women will be able to enter politics and gain access to decision-making roles.

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