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Pakistani women’s presence growing in civil services, armed forces


ISLAMABAD: According to government statistics and officials, the number of women in the federal and provincial bureaucracy has increased 20 percent during the past decade in Pakistan, with scores of female officers holding important positions.

In a historic first, Nigar Johar became the first female officer to be promoted to the rank of three-star general in 2020. She is currently heading the covet Medical Corps of Pakistan Army, commonly known as the Surgeon General of Pakistan Army.

As borne out by statistics provided the Establishment Division, out of 571,619 federal employees, 27,922 are female, making up nearly 5 percent of the total strength. The ratio was well below 4 percent a decade ago.

The Defence Division, the figures show, is the largest administrative unit in terms of female employees with a share of 36.86 percent out of total female employees. The second-largest unit is the Federal Education & Professional Training Division with 19.74 percent of total female employees.

National Health Services Regulations & Coordination, Interior and Communications Divisions are third, fourth, and fifth with a share of 8.32 percent, 6.56 percent, and 4.79 percent, respectively, out of total female employees.

Apart from the civil service, the number of women joining the three-armed forces, police, airport security force, and rangers, have also increased “significantly” in recent years.

The army has also increased the number of women officers and staff taking part in international peace missions to fulfill the UN quota of 15 percent female representation in peace missions since 2019, an army official confirmed.

Many women officers are currently holding executive posts of district judges, deputy inspector general of police, deputy commissioners, assistant commissioners, and city police officer across the country, mainly in Punjab.

In January, Justice Ayesha Malik took the oath as the country’s first-ever Supreme Court judge. Saima Saleem, the first visually impaired Pakistani diplomat is currently Second Secretary on Human Rights for Pakistan’s Permanent Mission to the UN in Geneva.

Days before Women’s Day this year, the government appointed Nasira Khatoon as the first female vice-chancellor of the University of Karachi, the country’s largest state-run university.

“If students, especially girls, get proper guidance and counseling, the sky is the limit for them and they can do wonders. It’s high time that we start telling our girls that every field is open for them,” said Tasneem Zehra Husain, Pakistan’s first woman scientist to earn her Ph.D.


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