UN calls for gender monitoring of Pakistani appointments

By on 15/03/2018
Naoko Takasu, deputy country director, UNDP Pakistan (Image courtesy: UNDP Pakistan).

Women face social barriers to decision-making posts in Pakistan’s federal civil service, a UN study has found – prompting senior UN figures to call for the introduction of a tracking system to monitor women’s participation and access to top posts.

The proportion of new recruits to the Central Superior Services who are women has soared from 9% to 45% over the past 15 years, according to the Gender Equality in Public Administration Pakistan Case Study 2017. But gender stereotyping and social norms continue to affect civil service postings, and women tend to be concentrated in entry-level positions,  the joint report by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and UN Women states.

The case study, which focuses on women’s access to decision-making roles in Pakistan’s federal civil service, found that gender stereotyping and social norms play a major role in deciding civil service postings, with women in Pakistan facing “entrenched societal attitudes”.

Off target

Launching the findings in Islamabad earlier this month, UN Women country representative Jamshed Kazi said Pakistan is committed to achieving 30% representation of women in leadership positions under the UN’s Beijing Platform for Action towards equal rights for women.

The case study shows that “concentrated action” which acknowledges and addresses the barriers faced by women is required to achieve “meaningful representation of women at all levels of decision-making”, he added.

Move on many fronts

The Office of the Prime Minister of Pakistan in Islamabad, headquarters of the federal civil service (Image courtesy: Altamash jawad).

Naoko Takasu, deputy country director for UNDP Pakistan, said: “As one of the largest wage employers in the country, the public sector is an important entry point for women.

“Enhancing women’s role in leadership and decision-making will thus have an immense impact on gender equality [more widely] and on Pakistan’s successful achievement of the [UN] Sustainable Development Goals.”

The report calls for a “multi-faceted approach” that takes account of “the socioeconomic realities of women’s lives” when designing and implementing policies for increasing women’s access to decision-making positions in the Pakistan public administration.

As well as the tracking system, it recommends that gender-responsive budgets should be rolled out across the government; that coordination should be improved between the Ministry of Human Rights and Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform to promote progress on gender equality; and that a more supportive environment should be created for female civil servants by facilitating women’s networks and drawing on experience from other countries.

About Liz Heron

Liz Heron is a journalist with more than 16 years’ experience on daily newspapers in the UK and Hong Kong. With a core specialism of education, she also has extensive experience of general news and has covered other public sector beats including environment, transport and planning. She worked on the South China Morning Post for seven years, serving as education editor, assistant education editor and education reporter as well as senior reporter on the Sunday Morning Post. She has contributed to a wide range of British media including The Independent, The Guardian, TES Global (formerly The Times Educational Supplement) and the BBC. She qualified as a newspaper journalist with the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) and has a master’s degree in international relations from the University of Essex.

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