Women Politicians Navigating the ‘Hostile Environment’ in Pakistan

Volume 51 Number 2
Published: September 22, 2020

Women in Pakistan operate within highly patriarchal contexts that promote their exclusion from public spaces; but those working in politics, the most public of spaces, defy these prevailing gender norms. This article examines women’s experience of sexual harassment in the political ‘workspace’. It presents data from interviews, press and television coverage, social media, and an online survey, to explore how women’s presence in politics is resisted by their male counterparts through the use of sexual harassment. It highlights the sexual harassment men use against women in politics, arguing that key features of political parties’ organisational culture function as predictors of harassment. Despite laws and mechanisms for processing complaints, women in politics are unable to push for effective accountability. The article argues for improved accountability mechanisms within political parties and Assemblies to combat sex discrimination and harassment, while acknowledging that the problem may only increase when women achieve more prominence as politicians.

From Issue: Vol. 51 No. 2 (2020) | Collective Action for Accountability on Sexual Harassment: Global Perspectives