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The Center for the Study of Islam Democracy

Integrating Women into Democratic Governance: A Comparison of Afghanistan, Pakistan and India

This paper examines the role played by Muslim women in the political life of Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.  In Afghanistan, the US and Coalition members have worked to promote the participation of women in Afghan political life.  In Pakistan and India constitutional amendments passed during the past decade increased the representation of women in legislative assemblies.  In Pakistan, Islamic parties have been very successful at recruiting and running women for seats in provincial assemblies while in India, Muslim women have begun to mobilize successfully at state and local levels.  This paper will compare and contrast the challenges of women working at the grassroots level with the experiences of women at higher levels of governance.  Studies have shown that simply providing institutional access through quotas for women in legislative bodies without addressing issues related to changing social attitudes towards women are not helpful in the long run.  This paper will look at the experiences of Muslim women in all three countries to see what lessons can be learned in terms of the social and cultural environments which are conducive to integrating women into governance structures.  This paper aims to contribute to the discussion by looking at Muslim women in three different countries in the region in order to identify the strategies that have helped women to participate in governance and those that have proved to be a hindrance.


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