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The interplay of gender across the Pakistan’s judiciary



There are currently only six women serving as judges in Pakistan's constitutional courts. Despite decades of struggle, Justice Ayesha Malik is the first and only woman to be appointed as the Supreme Court Judge in Pakistan's male-dominated history. This would demonstrate to anyone the male predominance of the upper courts in the country. The Judicial Commission of Pakistan is tasked with appointing judges to higher courts under Article 175A of the constitution. The Parliamentary Committee is the other organization that participates in appointment processes. However, the commission's function trumps that of the parliamentary committee. And what’s more is that the commission is headed by the Chief Justice of Pakistan who throughout history has been a male. The committee has virtually always given a male candidate a seat on the committee, paying no heed to the representation of women in the judiciary. In terms of gender representation, the legislative committee's makeup has been comparatively better than the commissions.


Female judges have received a lot of criticism in addition to these low representation numbers. There have been instances where female judges' authority and competence have been outright rejected and contested on the grounds of their gender. “Ansar Burney v. Federation of Pakistan” is one landmark case that serves as the ideal illustration for the debate. Female judges' appointment and performance have been criticized for a number of reasons. Majority of these objections stemmed from religious beliefs. It was also claimed that since women must always wear a pardah, they cannot be nominated as judges. Similarly, it was asserted that women are ineligible for judicial appointments since they have half the share of males and their testimony is seen as being half that of men under inheritance law and evidence law, respectively. All these claims of incompetence were rejected by the Federal Shariat Court, which had a completely different perspective. It was also made clear that nothing in Islam forbids women from serving as judges.


Islam has protected women's rights and gender equality in all aspects of life. Islam guarantees that men and women have equal rights and that there is no gender discrimination. But in our society, women are constrained by social and cultural conventions and practices that were created exclusively by men. We will never grow in developing the human capital required to flourish nationally and internationally if women continue to be hampered by patriarchy and regressive interpretation of Islam.

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This was a very interesting read. One question I had was that why don’t they have reserved seats for women in the supreme court? They have it in the parliament. Not only women, minorities should also have representation

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Abdul Rehman Mirza
Abdul Rehman Mirza
Aug 07, 2022
Replying to

So I get your confusion. So the seats in parliament are given in the constitution itself but the constitution doesn’t really provide the same representation in supreme court. The parliament can change it through a constitutional amendment but I highly doubt it would happen because it would go against the independence of judiciary.

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i agree we need more female judges who can develop the law in a gender nuetral way that accounts for the views and problems of both genders

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Abdul Rehman Mirza
Abdul Rehman Mirza
Aug 07, 2022
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justice ayesha alam malik was the one who abolished the highly unreasonable, 2 finger test. I doubt if a male judge was in her place, he would have understood the depth of the issue or even given the lawyers a chance to present their arguments.

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Firstly, a well written post but I have a little query in mind;

what are constitutional courts, do women get appointed in other courts?

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Abdul Rehman Mirza
Abdul Rehman Mirza
Aug 07, 2022
Replying to

Hey Sheraz!

I appreciate your response. Constitutional courts are the 7 courts that are constituted by virtue of the Constitution of Pakistan 1973 itself. Yes, women are appointed in other courts. So, for example, women get appointed to civil courts. However, they are sidelined there as well. They are not given important or corporate cases. The only cases they get are related to the family matter: divorce, nikkah, inheritance, etc. This convention is also deeply rooted in the patriarchal norms of society.

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Iman Aamir
Iman Aamir
Aug 02, 2022

Id also Like to mention that it is not only about the judiciary being male dominated due to positions not being offered but also becuase in the Pakistani society parents donot want their daughters to become civil lawyers , go to courts for cases because they deem it not safe for them as people also play dirty . so when the environment is not safe for the females they opt for Safe law patheays such as corporate . If the environment is Safer in the courts I feel more would opt for civil law and maybe then more can be given positions of judges …. Saying that, however I would like to mention your concerns are also valid ,…

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Abdul Rehman Mirza
Abdul Rehman Mirza
Aug 02, 2022
Replying to

I agree, as a female lawyer just walking into the courts can be a traumatizing experience. Almost all female lawyers are told that they need to have a "thick skin" to practice law. What needs to be addressed and acknowledged is that male lawyers have the biggest part to play in it.

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