Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy


Political Science

Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

David Kimball, Ph.D.


Farida Jalalzai, Ph.D.

Adriano Udani, Ph.D.

Meg Rincker, Ph.D.


Women’s political representation is linked to the empowerment of women in society. In efforts to alleviate women’s disenfranchisement from the political discourse, the international development framework included gender quotas as mechanisms to facilitate an increase in the presence of women in parliaments. Existing research has examined the link between Hanna F. Pitkin’s conceptualization of descriptive representation and substantive representation with a focus on performative measures of women parliamentarians. This longitudinal study expands the scope of existing inquiry and captures the transformational change in power relations as an outcome of the increase in women members of parliaments. This research provides an in-depth review of the constitutional mandate of 17 per cent gender quotas in Pakistan’s National Assembly from the adoption in 2002 to 2018. An intersectional comparative approach is utilized to trace Pakistan’s longest democratic rule to date of 16 years, comprised of three National Assemblies, as a case study of representation. A review of historical and feminist dimensions suggests geo-political and identity implications on women’s participation in the political sphere. The findings demonstrate a limited impact of the increase in descriptive representation through gender quotas on women’s substantive representation.