Maintaining an equitable gender ratio in all positions of authority is crucial for efficient functioning. Whether it is in hospitals, educational institutions, law enforcement offices, or any other sector, gender diversity and attitudes tailored to specific genders are necessary. Unfortunately, in Pakistan’s tribal merged districts, the situation regarding women occupying these key positions remains dire. Out of the 26,000 policemen in these districts, less than a hundred are female.
This stark number demands immediate attention from policymakers. The seven tribal districts in the region are fragile and require significant focus due to the volatile security situation. While the issues are deeply rooted in culture and pose significant challenges to address, policy action is the only way to make progress. The amalgamation of these districts into the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) has further complicated matters, making it difficult to achieve enhanced security and develop the necessary infrastructure.
It is important to note that the solution does not lie in implementing quotas or hastily introducing other interventions. The problem caused by this gender disparity extends beyond the mere lack of representation. Security concerns and societal issues disproportionately affect vulnerable segments of the population, which includes women. As a result, women are unable to access police and judicial services due to the male-dominated nature of these institutions. This gender imbalance pushes an already vulnerable segment further into the shadows.
To address this issue, a well-thought-out and stable system should be implemented to recruit more female officers. However, simply increasing their deployment is not sufficient. It must be accompanied by societal interventions, such as awareness campaigns, and addressing the specific needs of women at the grassroots level. It is important to be prepared for potential backlash and acknowledge that resolving this issue will take time, as it is deeply rooted in the conservative cultural norms of the region. Therefore, solutions that consider these cultural constraints, particularly those integrated with the purdah, may work.