Female reservation: The country is in a festive mood after the ‘Nari Shakti Bandan Bill’ was passed by 454 votes in the Lok Sabha, ensuring one-third participation of women in central and state power. The party and the opposition voted unanimously on the bill. However, two MPs voted against the bill. After the passage of this bill, the presence of at least 181 women MPs is ensured based on the current number of seats in the Lok Sabha. However, it is yet to be decided whether it will be implemented in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. Amid the celebration of the passage of the Women’s Protection Bill in India, what is the status of women’s protection in the parliaments of our neighboring countries Pakistan and Bangladesh?
Many countries around the world, including France and South Korea, have 50 percent reservation for women in their parliaments. Nepal and Argentina started efforts in this direction in the 1990s. Due to various efforts, women’s representation in the parliaments of Argentina, Mexico and Costa Rica is over 36 percent. There is no reservation for women in America and Britain. Yet women represent 29 percent of American government and 35 percent of British parliament. One-third of the world’s countries are represented by women. New Zealand and the United Arab Emirates have 50 percent women in power. In this regard, Rwanda is at the top with 61 percent female representatives.
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What is the representation of women in Pakistan?
Governments of Pakistan have taken steps from time to time to ensure the participation of women in power. Pakistan reserved 10 seats for women in the National Assembly in 1956. Out of this, 5 seats were reserved for East Pakistan (present Bangladesh) and 5 seats for West Pakistan. In 1962, the representation of women in the National Assembly of Pakistan decreased and only six seats were reserved for them. However, in later years, women’s reservation in Pakistan was increased. After East Pakistan became Bangladesh in 1971, 10 seats in the National Assembly of Pakistan were again reserved for women in 1973.
Pakistan reserved 10 seats for women in the National Assembly in 1956.
Currently 60 seats are reserved for women
In 1985, the number of seats reserved for women in the National Assembly was increased to 20. General Pervez Musharraf’s government increased by 33 seats. Currently, 60 seats in Pakistan’s 336-member National Assembly are reserved for women. Apart from this, 10 seats have been reserved for non-Muslim i.e. minority communities. However, Pakistan’s non-Muslim community has been continuously demanding an increase in the number of seats reserved for minorities in the National Assembly.
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Protection of women in Bangladesh since independence
Currently, 50 seats are reserved for women in the 350-seat Parliament of Bangladesh. After independence from Pakistan, in 1972, Bangladesh reserved 15 out of 300 seats for 10 years to ensure women’s participation in power. Later, when the number of members in the National Parliament was increased to 330, 30 seats were reserved for women. Now the number of seats reserved for women is 50. In this regard, India’s neighboring country Nepal is quite good. In Nepal, since 2007, more than 33 percent reservation has been made to ensure women’s share in power.
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What is the status of women in Pakistan?
According to the 2017 census of Pakistan, women constitute 48.76 percent of the total population. Women have been allowed to vote in elections since 1956 in Pakistan. So far women have held many top positions in Pakistan including Prime Minister and National President. There are also women in the Legislature, Leader of the Opposition, Federal Ministers, Judges and commissioned positions in the Armed Forces. Lieutenant General Nigar Johar has reached the highest rank of the army. At the same time, Benazir Bhutto was sworn in as the first woman Prime Minister of Pakistan on 2 December 1988. Despite all this, the status of women is not good due to uneven socio-economic development and the impact of tribal and feudal social structures on women’s lives.
Currently, 60 seats in Pakistan’s 336-member National Assembly are reserved for women.
The safety of women in Pakistan is a serious concern
According to a report by Gender Concerns International, women’s rights in Pakistan have improved with the increase in the number of literate and educated women. At the same time, according to a survey by Pulse Consultants, 35 percent of Pakistanis still believe that no woman is safe in the country. At the same time, 43 percent believe that women are somewhat safer. Only 20 percent believe that women are safe in Pakistan. It is clear from this that the women’s security situation in Pakistan is alarming. Government funding for women’s education is very low. Rapes, honor killings, murders and forced marriages also occur in backward areas. Pakistan’s ranking is 153 on the Global Gender Gap Index.