Women in all walks of life, everywhere in the world are continuously marginalized from the political sphere [Women UN (2011)]. According to the latest statistical figures, only 22.8% of all national parliamentarians are
women. Out of those, only 10 women got the chance to become head of the state (mostly in developing countries). The situation remains even worse at the ministerial level in most countries. It is evident that only 17% of
government minister offices are held by women [IPU (2016)]. This low trend of women participation in the government exists also in the Pacific countries,where women account up-to 15.3% of seats in the national parliament. In theLeast Developing Countries (LDCs), Rwanda has the highest womenparticipation, making up to 64% of the chamber of deputies.

The trend isrelatively satisfactory in the developed world. In the Nordic countries (i,e., Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden), gender equality is higher as women account for 41.6% of the total parliamentarians [Rosenbluth, et al.(2015)].

It remains also a reality that although the number of femaleparticipation continues to increase, however, their participation and powersare restricted [Tahri (2003)]. Another important issue related to women’s lack of political participation is the nature, style, and system of contemporary democracy. Since times immemorial to date, all political and social thinkers cum philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle, Rousseau, John Lock, Hegel, to
name a few, have argued that women are more suitable for their natural rolesas mothers and wives [Phillips (1998); Rai (2000)].

Yet, the overall devastating situation in LDCs is linked mostly to the colonial mindset in thedeveloping world. It is one of the main reasons that female political representation is reduced in the post-colonial era because in pre-colonial time a woman’s political role in the pre-independence period was relatively higher [Waylen (1996)]. Although significant progress in some parts of the developing world has been noticed, but female participation both in the political institutions and in decision making still remains low for nations like, Pakistan.
The reasons behind these unacceptable figures (particularly in the least developing counties), can be linked to ‘feudal’ mindset, that viewswomen as incapable of handling leadership positions. This mindset considers
women unfit for other productive roles, thus limiting them only to their reproductive roles. It is believed that compassion cannot help in playing harsh public roles like, in politics [UNDP (2012)]. In some societies, other than the reproductive role, female participation in the political domain is hampered by the mindset that female duties should be restricted only to domestic activities.

The ones who are lucky enough to escape get seats in the national parliament. However, such an escape usually leaves them isolated from key decision making and policy formulation duties from the male counterparts [Geisler
Female Political Power and the Complexity of Social Barriers 155 (1995)]. So, gender differences for political participation and lead have persisted in world societies, and increased and also decreased over time. The
level of discrimination among the political participation of women varies across regions and ideological backgrounds, yet it prevails throughout the developing world. Women continue to witness their basic political rights
violated. Their political dreams get thrashed as a result of patriarchal thinking, deeply embedded in the institutional structure. However, these differences are not based on biological factors, but importantly socially constructed demands.

This overgeneralization of the gender attributes and differences are extremely harmful when they tend to limit the capacity of women to develop their future in politics [OHCHR (2013)]. Consequently, the nominal female participation in the political arena is backed chiefly by customary rules and socio-economic
conditions than the institutional structure [UNDP (2012)]. In order to address
that issue, the international law on human rights has legally obligated the
states that are signatory states to the Convention on the Elimination of All
Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) to eliminate
discrimination of all forms against men and women. Article 5 of the
convention encourages all the states to eliminate prejudices and customs
based on inferiority and superiority of either sex [CEDAW (1979)].

Download  in PDF

Umer Khayyam and Fariha Tahir

Leave a Reply