Women in Politics: Critical Analysis of Government Policies for Gender Mainstreaming in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), Pakistan

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Dur E Shawar , Abda Khalid , Bahadar Nawab


Gender inequality is a challenging issue in the developing world, constraining national development and limits women’s economic and social mobility. Pakistan’s government  promulgated many legal and constitutional frameworks to reduce gender inequalities in politics. International protocols Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) also emphasize gender equality to provide equal development opportunities to women. Literature trends are silent on how much these legal frameworks reduces gender political disparities in Pakistan. This study critically analyzes government policies particularly reserved seats for women political empowerment in KP and Peshawar. This study also presented a comparative analysis of women's descriptive representation and substantive political participation in KP, particularly in Peshawar in current and previous political tenures since 1960’s to gauge the impact of the identified government policies. This study adopted a qualitative research design and presented data both from secondary and primary sources. We conducted semi-structured interviews from key informants including men and women MPAs, councilors and constituents. We found that despite reserved seats policy at national, provincial, and local levels, significant gender disparities still exist in political participation in KP. This study concludes that reserved seats policy enhanced number of women in KP assembly and local councils in Peshawar but the number of women on decision making positions in respective tiers of politics is still meager. The consistent trend of low women representation on decision making positions as committee’s chairpersons, ministers, advisors and special assistants at provincial and local levels showed that reserved seats policy could not achieve its real aim. Similarly the current developments i.e. compulsion of 5% party tickets to women on general seats through Election Act 2017 during GE-2018 enahnced appearance of women contestants on general seats but contributed less to women representation on general seats in KP’s cabinet. The findings of the study depict that these policies could not substantively contributed to real aim of women political empowerment in KP and Peshawar. 

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