Women Representation in Local Government in Pakistan

It is observed that power relations, which form political, economic, social and cultural environment, hinder women’s full participation in all these fields. Politics is one of those fields where gender inequality has gained global attention. From voters to elected members, women are under-represented and this occurred not due to lack of abilities, but the prevailing environment of political discrimination and cultural barriers denied women right of equal participation even in democratic governments.

The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan provides protection for the rights of its citizens among which is equality of political rights for men and women in terms of voting and contesting all elective offices. Constitution guarantees equality of all citizens before the law and forbids discrimination on the basis of sex alone, yet provides space for affirmative action by the State for women. Article 34 of the constitution of Pakistan states that steps will be taken to ensure the full participation of women in all spheres of national life.

In year 2000, a remarkable development took place, when the Devolution Plan 2000 redesigned the political landscape of Pakistan, especially at the grass root level through a reformatory policy intervention under Local Government Order (LGO). This reorientation of Local government politics provided 33% reservation of seats for women through a combination of direct and indirect elections. After the 18th Constitutional amendment, provincial governments were responsible to establish a local government system and devolve political, administrative, and financial responsibility and authority to the elected representatives of the local governments. The current local government laws in each province hold provisions related to women participation in the grass-root level. Below mentioned short analysis of current local government laws is aimed to compile the provisions related to women participation in the electoral process at grassroot level.

 

Category Punjab Local Government Act 2019 KP Local Government Act 2013 Sindh Local Government Act 2013 Balochistan Local Government Act 2010
Seat Reserved for women Part A – Urban Local Governments: 53 (14%)   Part B – Tehsil Councils: 33 (14%) District Council: 342 Tehsil Councils: 349   (Different number of seats reserved in each district council) District Municipal Corporation: 22% Metropolitan Corporation: 22% District Council: 22% Municipal Corporation: 22% Municipal Committees: 22% District Councils: 33% Union Councils: 33% Municipal Committees: 33% Municipal Corporation: 33% Metropolitan Corporation: 33%
Sections pertaining to women political participation Section 83, subsection (6) In addition to the candidate for the office of the head of the local government, a political party or an electoral group shall field at least as many qualified candidates for election as there are seats of general councillors and seats reserved for women, religious minorities, peasants and workers Section 74, subsection (4)   (4) Members to fill seats reserved for women, peasants and workers, youth and non-muslims in the tehsil council and district council shall be elected through proportional representation system of political parties‟ list of candidates on the basis of the total number of general seats secured by each political party in the respective local council. Under Section 9 of the Act each administrative unit provides full opportunity to women to participate in political activity and be elected either on general seat or reserved one Each administrative unit provides full opportunity to participate in political activity and be elected either on general seat or reserved one
Special representation in administrative committees Section 20: Representation of councilors in the councils.– (2) Nothing contained in sub-section (1) shall prevent a woman or a person belonging to a religious minority or other special interest group from being a candidate for or elected to a general seat.   Section 174, Establishment of Local Government Finance Commission, subsection (g) Four experts, out of whom one shall be a woman, on local governments and local government finance appointed in terms of section 174 of this Act   Section 238, Chairperson and members of the Commission, subsection (e) Four expert members, including one woman, appointed in terms of section 241 of this Act 27. Composition of Village Council and Neighbourhood Council.   Sub section (b) two members elected to seats reserved for women;   Section 54, Local Government Commission, subsection (c) two eminently qualified and experienced technocrats including a woman selected by Government for a period of three years One woman, as a woman representative of women, to be part of administrative committee of each administrative unit (Union Council, Union Committee and Town Committee) Section 81, Constitution of Musalihat Anjuman.- (1) In each Union, a Musalihat Anjuman shall be constituted consisting of a panel of three members including at least one woman member one of whom shall be its Convener.   Section 130. Divisional Coordination Committee.   (b) One representative each of the special interest groups, viz. peasants, workers and women to be elected in the prescribed manner, by the elected members belonging to the respective groups in various Local Councils within a Division.    
Sections related to Women Welfare  N/A N/A Section 4, Health and maternity centers, subsection (a). establish, manage, maintain, or contribute towards the maintenance of health centers, maternity centers, and centers for the welfare of women, infants and children;   ( c ). adopt such other matters as may be necessary to promote the health and welfare of women, infants and children. Section 63 of the Act: Social Welfare   (e) adopt such measures as may be prescribed for the promotion of the welfare of backward classes, and destitute women and children;   Sub Section 56 (Public Health)  Establishment, management, maintenance and inspection of Health Centers, Maternity Centers and centers for the welfare of infants and children, the training of dais, midwives and the adoption of other measures likely to promote the health and welfare of women, infants and children. Optional Functions.  (Public Health) (1). To establish, maintain or manage or contribute towards the health centres, maternity centres for the welfare of women, infants and children.     social welfare Rural Councils.   41. To adopt such measures as may be prescribed for the promotion of welfare of backward classes, families of the persons serving in Armed Forces and Women and children.   Public Health   (9) establishment, management and visting of health centres, maternity centres, and centres for the welfare of infants and children, training of Dais and adoption of other measures likely to promote health and welfare of women, infant and children

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