Although it was not first time that a male legislator had made sexist remarks against his female colleagues at the floor of an elected assembly in Pakistan, the uproar in social media and electronic TV channels against the unsavoury remarks by PPP MPAImdad Ali Pitafi against thePML-F’s Nusrat Sehar Abbasion January 22, 2017, forced the perpetrator to tender her an apology on the floor of the house.The main point of the concern was the overall attitude of other male as well as female members, who, apart from one female member from PML-N, did not raise objections to the sleazy remarks against their colleague. Even the Deputy Speaker of the provincial legislator remained a silent spectator – despite being a woman herself. Similarly, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s (KP) provincial assembly, PTI provincial minister Shah Farman used very objectionable and abusive language against the PPP’s Nighat Orakzai on May 2, 2017, who tried to speak to express her concerns about non-allocation of development funds to women parliamentarians.Farman did his best to interrupt Orakzai, but when Orakzai protested, the unruly minister started abusing her and made some derogatory remarks about her parents as well. The ugly scene caused an unleashing of condemnations against the KP minister. A week later, Shah Farman had to apologise, under pressure from social media and political leaders. Many similar incidents have happened in the past on the floor of the houses or outside the assemblies, a number of men in the elected assemblies were caught making derogatory remarks against their female colleagues, often they had to take their words back, after mounting moral pressure from the political party or severe condemnation in social media.“Men consider themselves entitled to pass sexist remarks even on the floor of the House while making speeches, during the Committee meetings, parliamentary party meetings and social gatherings,” the conclusion of a research report said. The report, entitled “Contemplating Male Legislators’ Attitude towards the Empowerment of Women Legislators” was conducted by Marvi Sermad, a senior researcher and analyst. She has analysed the trends, attitudes, obstacles and opportunities towards greater participation of women within the landscape of legislative houses at the federal and provincial levels. The research, conducted on behalf of Strengthening Participatory Organisation (SPO), a civil society organisation, under its project “Policy Advocacy & Research to Strengthen Implementation of Pro-Women Legislation & GBV response Services in Sindh”, has very aptly pointed out that even the women’s reserved seats have proven to be a “glass ceiling” for women legislators, as they are often ridiculed for not representing any physical constituency, most of them are of denied development funds. Moreover, they are not encouraged to head committees in the house.This type of misogyny prevails at the helm of affairs in the legislative bodies as well as the government departments, especially after the introduction of women’s reserved seats in 2002. Earlier, there were few women legislators in the elected assemblies. Unfortunately, almost the entire decade of the democracy (1990-1999) four parliaments were dissolved, three of them were without reserved seats for women, as the constitutional provision of reserving Women Seats had ended after dissolution of the National Assembly in August 1990. However, few female politicians were elected on the general seats including former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, her mother Begum Nusrat Bhutto a former Deputy Speaker of National Assembly Dr. Ashraf Abbasi.During survey for the research report, some female legislators narrated their ordeals especially when their performances in the House were ridiculed and undermined by their male colleagues despite the fact male members remained irregular in attendance of the House.Facing the dispiriting attitude from male peers in the parliament and provincial legislative bodies, women have excelled in their legislation job, whenever they got opportunities.Some interesting facts have also emerged from the survey. Male legislators were almost unanimous in the opinion, that a household where women are politically active would be destroyed and the children would be neglected. It was difficult for men to imagine a household with a wife as a politician where the husband is not in politics.A survey found that male legislators were almost unanimous in the opinion that a household where women are politically active would be destroyed and the children neglectedWomen’s struggle for legislative rights in law making can be traced back to much earlier than the independence of Pakistan in 1947, as the research has looked at women’s quota issue from the Nationalist Movement in the 1920s. After 1947, both India and Pakistan inherited the Government of India Act, 1935, thus the first Constituent Assembly of Pakistan inherited two women members– Begum Jahan Ara Shahnawaz from West Pakistan and Begum Shaista Ikramullah from East Pakistan.The research has outlined the women’s participation in all the subsequent assemblies and has admitted that women have still not been able to get their due share in the democratic institutions, despite the fact their number in the legislative bodies have increased with the passage of time.Women’s rights organisations have been demanding reservation of at least 33 percent of seats in the assemblies according the universal standard of ‘critical mass theory’, which necessitates having at least one-third of the total parliamentary seats occupied by women. Unfortunately, even today, no more than 20 percent of members are women in the elected assemblies. Reserved quota of 17 percent for women was accepted in the Legal Framework Order 2002 and since then, this quota has been intact. The process, however, has been changed and now under a “List System” the parliamentary groups get reserved women’s seats in proportion to their general representation in the House. It is hoped that in the next general elections women legislators’ number will increase further, as all the political parties have been asked to nominate at least 5 percent women in the general elections seats.Before the Senate elections, there were a total of 223 women in all the elected bodies — four Provincial Assemblies, the National Assembly and Senate. Let’s see where we stand after the general elections.The writer is a senior journalist, currently working for a development organisation as Communication and Advocacy specialist. He has contributed as a freelance writer for a number of notable publications.Published in Daily Times, March 24th 2018.