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The incident in Mansehra after a female assistant commissioner was attacked shows the deep-rooted misogyny in our society and the challenges women face when they take up positions of power.
Three men attacked and injured AC Marvi Malik Sher, later telling police that they did not welcome a female civil servant in the area. The men also harassed, followed her car, took photos before attempting to pull her out of the vehicle and injuring her. Malik Marvi set a record with her five sisters when they all passed the challenging CSS exam, cleared by less than 2 percent of candidates, and was recently posted in the area.
The bureaucracy has traditionally been dominated by men in Pakistan. Although in recent years, women have started taking positions in civil service on merit. According to reports, the number of women in federal and provincial bureaucracy has increased by an impressive 20% during the past decade. The federal government has also reserved 10% quota for women to all posts.
Apart from the civil service, the number of women joining the armed forces, police, airport security force, rangers, fighter pilots and paratroopers has also increased significantly in recent years. In a historic move, Nigar Johar become the first women officer promoted to a three-star general in 2020 and now heads the Medical Corps. Earlier this year, trailblazing Justice Ayesha Malik became the first women judge elevated to the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
There is a generally acceptance of women in different roles like deputy commissioner and deputy police officer, except the few unfortunate incidents like the one in Mansehra. This is indeed a positive change to see female participation in civil bureaucracy, politics, judiciary, armed forces and even private firms.
Despite the social and economic challenges, women have shattered the glass ceiling into many fields traditionally considered for men only. They are seen everywhere and hold coveted posts. We must encourage women to take up positions of power and hope the privilege is given to more in the years to come. It is our collective responsibility to shun misogynist views and opinions on the role of women in society.