Gender polarisation in Pakistan’s parliament

Shaheen Ashraf Shah
April 04, 2015

Shaheen Ashraf Shah’s analyzed the legislative record of the National Assembly of Pakistan in terms of putting legislative interventions. Her results show that a higher proportion of female Members of the National Assembly (MNA) are likely to initiate legislative business compared to men. She also found out that parliamentary performance is crucial for women parliamentarians to build their image as competent politicians and to secure their re-selection for parliamentary seats in upcoming elections. For male parliamentarians, however, re-election does not depend so much on their performance in parliament. In reality, Shaheen Ashraf Shah’s writes, women who come into parliament through quotas are controlled by powerful men in their parties, who also control women’s entry into parliament.

The analysis of the legislative record of the National Assembly of Pakistan in terms of putting legislative interventions, especially after enhanced representation of women in the legislature, reveals marked patterns of polarisation with regard to gender. Firstly, it shows inter-gender polarisation, which means that when compared with male MNAs, a higher proportion of female MNAs are likely to initiate legislative business, despite the fact that women represent only 22 per cent of membership. Secondly, intra-gender polarisation stems from the fact that a limited number of women put forward a disproportionately high number of legislative interventions. If we dig deeper, then findings from several studies also confirm that women who have come into the National Assembly through quotas are more active than directly elected MNAs and that these quota legislators are more likely to put social and women’s issues on the legislative agenda than directly elected male and female MNAs. […]


Shaheen Ashraf Shah holds a PhD from the University of Warwick, UK, and works as a gender and development researcher and consultant in Pakistan.


Click here to read the full article on The Express Tribune.

Photo courtesy of danish ansari. Dr. Fehmida Mirza was Speaker of the Pakistani National Assembly from 2008 to 2013. She was the first woman to hold the office. 

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