Data Brief: Women Leaders in Pakistani Government

Data Brief - Candidates

Women in Pakistan's National Assembly Elections 2018

As of June 2018, women comprise 20.6% of the 342 seats in Pakistan’s National Assembly, exceeding the country’s quota for the National Assembly to reserve 17.5% of their seats for women. Although the National Assembly in Pakistan narrowly surpasses this quota, the amount of power women hold while in office is meager: according to the Punjab Commission on the Status  of Women: among the 26 government bills successfully passed in parliament in 2017, only 1 (4%) were proposed by women.


Since Pakistan’s independence in 1947, the 2018 elections mark the second time that a civilian government will transfer power to another civilian elected government after a full term. On July 26, 2018 Pakistan held elections for their National and Provincial Assemblies. 3,459 people ran for the 272 open seats in the National Assembly elections. A record-breaking number candidates were women of women running for National Assembly. Data shows that out of the 3,459 people that contested for open seats in the National Assembly, 171 of those candidates were women.


Yet more women are running for office than ever before, the ratio of men to women candidates leans heavily towards men, with women comprising only 5% of candidates. A political atmosphere dominated by men tells a familiar tale: women are less likely to run for office in Pakistan, and Pakistan’s perception of female leaders is largely negative. According to the World Value  Survey 2010-2014, 73% of Pakistani citizens strongly agreed or agreed with the statement “on the whole, men make better political leaders than women do”.


Data Brief - Percentage


Representation of Pakistani Women in Civil Service


As the number of Pakistani women in legislature surpass quotas and women are running for office in increasing numbers, an equally interesting trend appears: there are many more Pakistani women in elected office than there are in senior civil service. In terms of public administration, women worldwide have made incredible progress of leadership in roles of civil service, with a worldwide average of 43.9% of women in civil service and 29.7% of women decision-makers in civil service. Conversely, Punjab, Pakistan’s most populated and quickest urbanizing region, reports only 4% of women in senior civil service.


Thus as the world analyzes the results of the Pakistani elections, we must realize that more sex disaggregated data is needed to understand the role women play in not only the National Assembly but other areas of government. Looking forward, the factors behind women’s lack of representation government in Pakistan must be identified and addressed to ensure that women leaders can represent their democracy on the same level as men do.