Women are severely under-represented in the superior judiciary of Pakistan. Not a single woman has ever been elevated as judge of the Supreme Court in Pakistan’s legal history. An observation by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) states that only 5.8 per cent of high court judges in the country are women, one of the lowest number in the region. Another report published last year concluded that opportunities and work conditions in the country discriminate greatly against female lawyers, who are unable to reach the reputation necessary, despite their brilliance in their field, for an invitation to the prestigious bench. Those who do manage to garner the required level of professional recognition will ultimately suffer due to lack of sufficient support amongst the male-dominated collegiate of judges who eventually determine the revered appointments.
It is a sorry state of affairs that 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. Since 1947, there had been only one female president of the Supreme Court Bar Association. There is most certainly no dearth of highly qualified and esteemed women judges who have gone on to achieve wonders in the short span of their careers.
Justice Majida Rizvi was appointed to the Sindh High Court on the same date (June 6, 1994) as Justice Rana Bhagwandas. However, male skewed approach prevailed in a time when Pakistani politics been ready to appoint a woman when she was first recommended in 1989 under Bhutto. This is just one of the countless examples in history when a female judge was discriminated against for voicing out her right to a promotion or for being at loggerheads with a male colleague over a particular issue. It is about time that Pakistan rectified this grave under representation of women in the judicial profession and gives at least fair if not an equal opportunity to women to aim for the highest honour in the judiciary.