Prime Minister Imran Khan reconstituted the Economic Advisory Council (EAC) on September 1 to resolve the economic crisis of the country.
Chaired by the PM himself, the 18-member economic council aims to function as a regulatory body which will advise the government on both “short-term macroeconomic stabilisation interventions” and “long-term structural reforms for stable and sustained economic development”.
While the council has been lauded for being inclusive of religious minorities, it has faced criticism for its complete lack of female representation.
Activists and journalists have already called out the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government for a lack of female representation in the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) cabinets after the names of respective ministers were announced on August 26.
Punjab has a 23-member cabinet out of which 22 are men. The KP cabinet consists of 15 members but no woman was appointed to any ministerial position.
Sarah Khan, a political scientist and South Asian gender researcher, tweeted that the absence of even a “single woman on this council” is shameful and incognizant of “important perspectives”.
“While it’s heartening to see the new Pakistani govt. create an economic advisory council comprising brilliant minds, there is not a single woman on this council and that’s a shame and means losing important perspectives,” she tweeted.
while it’s heartening to see the new Pakistani govt. create an economic advisory council comprising brilliant minds, there is not a single woman on this council and that’s a shame and means losing important perspectives. https://t.co/LXJMaBx90S
— Sarah Khan (@_sarahkhan) September 1, 2018
In response to a tweet by civil society activist Jibran Nasir, digital rights activist Nighat Dad Khan criticized Nasir’s comment that the newly reconstituted EAC had “a fine team purely on merit”.
“A fine team should be inclusive and diverse. I don’t see how this advisory council is considered fine when not a single woman is included and every single time women need to remind it to those in power positions,” she stated in her tweet.
.@MJibranNasir a fine team should be inclusive and diverse. I don’t see how this advisory council is considered fine when not a single woman is included and every single time women need to remind it to those in power positions. It’s tiring and exhausting. https://t.co/6knYuvMp1f
— Nighat Dad (@nighatdad) September 1, 2018
Erum Haider, a PhD candidate at the department of government, Georgetown University, questioned, “They’ve seriously overlooked female economists. Will any of these esteemed members stand up for their peers, knowing full well the benefits of women in leadership/decision making/agenda-setting roles?”
They’ve seriously overlooked female economists. Will any of these esteemed members stand up for their peers, knowing full well the benefits of women in leadership/decision making/agenda setting roles?
— Erum Haider (@erumrum) September 1, 2018
Bina Shah, a Pakistani writer and columnist, wrote an open letter to the PM, questioning the absence of women in the EAC cabinet.
Where are the women on the EAC? An open letter to the PM https://t.co/nvQ4Lihjqi
— Bina Shah (@BinaShah) September 2, 2018
In her letter, she called out the newly-sworn government for not following up on its promises.
“I would have expected an increase in gender equality, not a decrease, with all the talk of PTI being more progressive than its predecessors,” she added.
Responding to criticism on social media that candidates are selected on merit, not tokenism, she said, “Including women is not about tokenism, unless you consider 52% of Pakistan’s population to be a token. No woman would have been selected without merit”.
“But women MUST be included – and there are government quotas for women’s representation that should be followed.”
Jehan Ara, social activist and president of the Pakistan Software Houses Association ([email protected]), calls out to PM Imran to form a gender-neutral EAC in order “to ensure balance for a strong Pakistan”.
We need women representation on the Economic Advisory Council. There is no dearth of qualified women in this country. I add my voice to those who are asking PM @ImranKhanPTI to ensure balance for a strong Pakistan
— jehan_ara (@jehan_ara) September 1, 2018
Afia Salam, a freelance journalist, commented that she envisions a “#NayaPakistan” where women would be “acknowledged and included” in federal and provincial cabinets.
So good to see some experienced hands in the Council….BUT WHERE ARE THE WOMEN? I want a #NayaPakistan where women are acknowledged and included??? is Dr. Naveed a man or a woman… Name can be for both..(hoping…) #GenderBlindness pic.twitter.com/TQCQA2iVMe
— afia salam (@afiasalam) September 1, 2018