Main Article Content
This study focused at exploring the issues in women’s political empowerment and investigating the substantive and procedural gaps in policies and laws formulated and implemented in Pakistan from 2001-2018 to this effect.
Women’s historic exclusion from politics and governance structures is a worldwide phenomenon. Equality in political representation is one of the key priorities for the political empowerment of women in Pakistan. But, they usually face a number of issues and predicaments to avail their due rights in diverse and rigid domains of life especially in the field of politics. Women in Pakistan are living in centuries old customs and traditions, oppressive patriarchy, non-existent property rights, intrinsic and extrinsic issues in implementation of pro-women policies, ideological and political factors, reserved quota controversy, lack of education, male-dominated political system, religious misconceptions regarding women political role are some of the causes which create hurdles in their political empowerment. This research work is developed on the inductive method with a qualitative approach based on exploratory and analytical analysis of the relevant primary as well as secondary data. In-depth interviews and focused group-discussions technique were among primary tools for data collection. The convenient, judgmental and snowball sampling technique have been adopted. For the analysis of collected data and to determine the gap between theory and practice i.e., policies and laws formulated and implemented in Pakistan between 2001 and 2018 for the empowerment- social, economic, psychic, personal and political- of women were analyzed through Howlett’s implementation models. Both liberal feminism and Howlett’s implementation models provided the theoretical framework and a launching pad for this study.
It has been found that there is a wide gap and divergence between women’s rights on paper in principle and in practice following important legal reforms. Policies and laws formulated and implemented for the empowerment of women are actually suffering from gaps and lapses in organizational, authoritative, financial and information-based implementation tools; hence flaws are of substantive as well as procedural nature. So it is concluded that mere formulation of new policies and laws cannot accomplish the task of women’s protection and empowerment in Pakistan. Legislation is effective as long as it is implemented in true letter and spirit. Policies and laws alone cannot change and alter miserable scenario but these can be effective and instrumental only if the society is ready for the positive transformation. For the effective implementation of policies and laws as a first step, education/awareness is required not only for the socialization of the community but also legal knowledge is sin-quo-none and a must for the policy makers to formulate flawless policies. Second, political will is required for introducing institutional reforms in judiciary, the police and the prosecution, so that to remove and redress the substantive and procedural flaws in administration and dispensation of justice. And lastly, financial resources must be allocated to all the departments concerned for the successful implementation of pro-women legislation.