Only 5.8 per cent of high court judges in the country are women, and to date, no woman had been appointed as a judge of the Supreme Court or as chief justice of any of the high courts.
The observation was shared by Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) in a press statement issued on Friday. It says that among total 130 judges of Supreme Court and provincial high courts, only 7 are women. There is no women judge in Islamabad High Court where as the highest number of women judges is three in Lahore High Court with two in Peshawar High Court and one each in Balochistan High Court and Sindh High Court.
The commission stressed for the urgent need for addressing the severe under-representation of women in the higher judiciary. As part of HRCP’s media campaign, ahead of International Women’s Day falling on March 8, the Commission drew attention towards women’s under-representation in Pakistan’s legal profession, particularly in the superior judiciary.
The commission says that women also remained under-represented in positions of status and influence in others fields of the legal profession, including offices of bar associations and the office of the attorney general. Since 1947, there had been only one female president of the Supreme Court Bar Association. “These numbers were the lowest in the region, if not the world over,” HRCP said.
The Commission stated that women continued to experience significant discrimination related to their participation in public and political life in most domains of the public sphere. “The reasons for the under-representation of women in power and decision-making were multifaceted and complex, and stemmed from economic, social and cultural issues, as well as from negative stereotypes about women and entrenched gender roles.”
HRCP urged the government to fulfil Pakistan’s obligations to address the barriers to women’s full and active participation in the public sphere and advance women’s equality and effective representation in the legal profession, particularly judiciary.