Women political participation is a fundamental prerequisite for gender equality and genuine democracy. It facilitates women’s direct engagement in public decision-making and is a means of ensuring better accountability to women. But here in Pakistan, women in politics are seen as a threat to the fragile egos of some male politicians.

When we talk about women’s political participation, it is easy for us to imagine the empty seats around the decision-making table, and a little more difficult to picture the many obstacles and challenges women face to get into those seats. When the same empty seats are filled by women, they somehow become a threat and danger. Recently, Jamaat-e-Islami’s (JI) MNA Abdul Akbar Chitrali criticised State Minister for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar on her recent visit to Afghanistan. Chitrali said that he was not against any female minister, but he believed that the government should have included some tribal elders in the Khar-led delegation that visited Afghanistan. In response to his sexist statement, women Members of the National Assembly (MNAs) from treasury benches extended their support for Khar. Minister for Climate Change Senator Sherry Rehman said, “This debate on gender difference has ended in the entire world, as to who is a man and who a woman. People are known for their performance and merit and not for their gender. Our women are excelling internationally and continuing to do so.” Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb also spoke up, asking that all parliamentarians, especially the men, should encourage and acknowledge the competency of women ministers appointed on merit.“Hina represented Pakistan in Afghanistan. This is a moment of pride for the entire nation,” she said, rebuffing Chitrali’s objections.

It is not the first time that we have seen sexism in parliament. Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani called Sherry Rehman the “Senate’s dadi (grandmother)” when he asked a house member to keep the questions specific so that Sherry Rehman can answer the questions. “I would advise you to only ask specific questions so that Sherry Rehman, who is the dadi of this House, can give you the right answers,” Sanjrani said, adding that members should keep the environment of the House calm.


This month we saw PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry advising Information Marriyum Aurangzeb and Sherry Rehman to quit politics and open a beauty parlour instead.

The question remains: what are the male politicians so frightened of? Politicians need to learn that there is a a fine line between criticism and misogyny remarks. Our politicians and men in general of Pakistan need to do better. Women of Pakistan are fierce, resolute and hardworking — be it in any field of the world. They are trendsetters and opinion makers. They shall and will not be stopped.