Gender Quotas Database

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Pakistan (Islamic Republic of Pakistan)

Pakistan (Islamic Republic of Pakistan) has a Bicameral parliament with legislated quotas for the single/lower house and upper house and at the sub-national level. 69 of 342 (20%) seats in the Majlis-E-Shoora/National Assembly are held by women.

At a glance

Structure of Parliament: Bicameral

Are there legislated quotas...

  • For the Single/Lower House? Yes
  • For the Upper House? Yes
  • For the Sub-National Level? Yes

Are there voluntary quotas...

  • Adopted by political parties? No

Is there additional information?...

  • Yes

Last updated: Apr 1, 2019

Single/Lower House

Majlis-E-Shoora/National Assembly

Total seats 342
Total Women 69
% Women 20%
Election Year 2018
Electoral System Parallel
Quota Type Reserved seats
Election details IDEA Voter Turnout - IPU Parline
  Legal source Details
Quota type: Reserved seats Constitution 60 of the total 342 seats in the National Assembly (17%) are reserved for women. The 272 general seats are elected by a direct vote through a first-past-the-post system in single-member constituencies across four main provinces, Federally-administered Tribal Areas and the Islamabad capital territory. An additional 10 seats are reserved for non-Muslims. The reserved seats for women are allocated to 4 provinces in the following manner: Punjab (35 seats); Sindh (14 seats); Khyber Pakhtun khwa (8 seats); and Balochistan (3 seats). Women members in these seats are elected through an indirect proportional representation list system, whereby political parties submit their lists of women candidates for reserved seats to the Election Commission prior to the election. Following the finalization of election results for general seats, the reserved seats are allocated to the political parties in proportion to the number of general seats obtained by these parties in each province. (Constitution, Article 51).
Electoral law  
Legal sanctions for non-compliance N/A Not applicable
Rank order/placement rules N/A Not applicable
Is the provision of direct public funding to political parties related to gender equality among candidates? Not applicable  
See more in International IDEA's Political Finance database
Are there provisions for other financial advantages to encourage gender equality in political parties? No

BLANK


See more in International IDEA's Political Finance database

Upper House

Majlis-E-Shoora/Senate

Total seats 104
Total Women 20
% Women 19%
Election Year 2018
Electoral System Indirectly elected
Quota Type Reserved seats>
Election details IPU Parline
  Legal source Details
Quota type: Reserved seats Constitution Of the 104 seats in the Senate, 17 are reserved for women (Constitution, Article 59). A total of 4 women senators are elected in each of the 4 provinces and 1 additional seat is reserved for a woman in the total of 4 seats elected from Islamabad. Members of the Senate are indirectly elected by members of provincial councils and members of the lower house through a system of proportional representation using the single transferable vote system.
Electoral law 17 out of the 100 seats in the Senate are reserved for women (source IPU). Members of the Senate are indirectly elected by member of the provincial councils and by members of the lower house.
Legal sanctions for non-compliance N/A Not applicable
Rank order/placement rules N/A Not Applicable

Quota at the Sub-National Level

  • Quota type: Reserved Seats
  Legal source Details
Quota type: Reserved Seats Constitution The Constituion provides the following principle: ‘The State shall encourage local Government institutions composed of elected representatives of the areas concerned and in such institutions special representation will be given to peasants, workers and women’ (Article 32). At the provincial level, 4 main provinces reserve seats for women in Provincial Assemblies: Punjab (66 seats); Sindh (29 seats); Khyber Pakhtun khwa (22 seats); and Balochistan (11 seats). General seats are elected based on first-past-the-post or simple majority rule in single member constituencies, while reserved seats for women are proportionally distributed among parties based on the number of general seats secured by each political party in the Provincial Assembly (Constitution, Article 106 (1,3)).
Electoral law

The provinces of Sindh and Punjab adopted local government laws in 2013 with reduced numbers of seats reserved for women: 1 out of 9 in the directly-elected first tier of local government in Sindh, and two in every 13 in Punjab.

At higher, indirectly elected tiers, Sindh law provides for a 22% of reserved seats for women and Punjab has legislated for about 10% of reserved seats for women at that level.

Legislation is under preparation in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtun khwa, with proposals to set the minimum number of seats reserved for women at 33%, which carries the same standard that previously applied to all local councils in all provinces, as set by the Devolution of Power Plan (DPP), adopted in 2000 and expired in 2009.

Legal sanctions for non-compliance N/A Not applicable
Rank order/placement rules N/A Not applicable

Additional Information

Pakistan is a federation with local, provincial and national tiers of government. Constitutions from 1956 until 1985 all provided for some reserved seats for women at the national and sub-national levels. In the 1956 Constitution, a minimum of 3 per cent of seats were reserved for women at all levels of government, including national and provincial assemblies, the Senate and local councils. The constitutions which followed, in 1962 and 1973, reserved seats for women—2.75 per cent in the National Assembly and 5 per cent in each of the provincial assemblies—and were implemented through indirect elections. In 1985, reserved seats for women in the National Assembly were increased to 10 per cent for a ten-year period or three general elections, whichever came first (Rai 2005: 175). This provision expired in 1988, and for elections held in the 1990s the number of women in parliament did not increase beyond 4 per cent (Reyes 2003: 42).

The national consultations in the Ministry of Women and Development, the National Campaign for Restoration of Women’s Reserved Seats, the Report of the Commission of Inquiry for Women, and the National Plan for Action all argued for new reservations during the late 1990s and early 2000s, thus providing for the 30 per cent quota of reserved seats. At the time, 11 political parties endorsed this initiative.

The current system of reservation of seats for the parliament and provincial assemblies came into force in 2002. The Devolution of Power Plan (DPP) in 2000, introduced under the military government of General Pervez Musharraf, established a uniform system of local government bodies in all four provinces of the country. The DPP, with the adoption of the Local Government Ordinance Act of 2001, guaranteed a 33 per cent quota for women at all three levels of local councils: the district (zila), sub-district (tehsil) and union councils at the village level. Under this system, according to one account, 42,049 women came into local government (Rai 2005: 175).

This system of local government was operational until 2009, and since the election of the new civilian government in 2008, the next phase of decentralization and local government development is under consideration. Local government elections which were initially planned to take place in 2009 have been postponed. In anticipation of the next local government elections at the end of 2013, the provinces of Sindh and Punjab have adopted new Local Government Acts in 2013, showing a decrease in the number of reserved seats, as compared to the 2001 Act.

Sources

LEGAL SOURCES:
OTHER SOURCES:
  • Senate of Pakistan, ‘List of Women Senators’, accessed 03 April 2014;
  • International IDEA, Political Parties in South Asia: The Challenge of Change, South Asia Regional Report (Stockholm: International IDEA, 2008); 
  • Rai, S. M., ‘Reserved Seats in South Asia: A Regional Perspective’, in J. Ballington and A. Kazam (eds),Women in Parliament: Beyond Numbers. A Revised Edition (Stockholm: International IDEA, 2005);
  • Reyes, S. L., ‘Quotas in Pakistan: A Case Study’, in The Implementation of Quotas: Asian Experiences,Quota Report Series no. 1 (Stockholm: International IDEA, 2003)

Additional reading

  • Global Village Space, 2018. "Is Pakistan's Gender Quota in Parliament Showing Results?", Published 4 July 2018, Accessed 26 September.
  • Pattan Development Organisation 2004. Voices of Women Councilors, Islamabad: Pattan Development Organisation.
  • Graff, I. ‘Women’s Representation in Pakistani Politics – the Quota Systems under the Musharraf Regime’, paper presented at the International Conference on Women and Politics in Asia, Halmstad, June 2003.
  • Reyes, S.L. 2003. ‘Quotas in Pakistan: A Case Study’, in International IDEA The Implementation of Quotas: Asian Experiences. Quota Workshop Report Series no. 1, Stockholm: International IDEA, pp. 42–7.
  • Ali, Rasheed. 2002. ‘A Distant Dream.’ Weekly Independent. September 26.
  • Bari, Farzana. 2002. Women's Representation in Legislatures.The Way Forward. Islamabad: Ministry of Women and Develoment.
  • Reyes, Socorro L. 2002. ‘Quotas in Pakistan: A Case Study.’ Paper presented at IDEA Regional Workshop on the Implementation of Quotas: Asian Experiences. Jakarta, Indonesia, September 2002.
  • Bari, S. and Khan, B.H. 2001. Local Government Elections 2001. Phase III, IV & V, Islamabad: Pattan Development Organization.
  • Ali, S. 2000. ‘Law, Islam and the Women’s Movement in Pakistan’, in S.M. Rai (ed.) International Perspectives on Gender and Democratisation, Basingstoke: Macmillan, pp. 41–63.
  • Ali, Shaheen Sardar. 2000. ‘Law, Islam and the Women's Movement in Pakistan.’ Shirin M. Rai (ed.). International Perspectives on Gender and Democratisation. New York: St. Martin's Press. pp. 41-63.
  • Afzal, Nabeela. 1999. Women and Parliament in Pakistan. 1947-1977. Lahore: Pakistan Study Centre, University of the Punjab.
  • Ikramullah, Shaista Suhrawardy. 1998. From Purdah to Parliament. Karachi: Oxford University Press.
  • Shaheed, Farida, Asma Zia, and Sohail Warraich. 1998. Women in Politics: Participation and Representation in Pakistan with update 1993-1997. Lahore: Shirkat Gah.
  • Shirkat Gah Women's Resource Centre. 1998. Shaping Women's Lives: Laws, Practices, & Strategies in Pakistan. Report.
  • Report of The Commission of Inquiry for Women: Pakistan. 1997. Islamabad: Stationery, Farms, and Publications Depot.
  • Sarwar, Beena. 1997. ‘Pakistan: Feuding Politicians Keep Women Out of Parliament.’ Interpress Service, June 13.
  • Yadav, Ritu. 1997. ‘More Than Just a Token.’ News India, May 15.
  • Islam, Muhammad Nazrul. 1990. Pakistan: A Study in National Integration. Lahore: Vanguard Books.
  • Mumtaz, Khawar and Farida Shaheed. 1987. Women of Pakistan: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back? Lahore: Vanguard Books.
  • Pakistan Election Commission, http://www.ecp.gov.pk
  • Pakistan Parliament website, http://www.na.gov.pk/

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