Sexuality Policy Watch

Collective action and political voice for women’s empowerment

On Friday 8 March, millions of people around the world celebrate International Women’s Day, paying tribute to women’s achievements in the ongoing fight for equality. Key to realising this year’s campaign  of ‘building a gender-balanced world’ is strengthening women’s participation in politics and their ability to influence the decisions that affect their lives.

There is significant rigorous evidence that collective action and social movements have helped women to achieve voice, access, participation, influence, and power, and have advanced gender equality for their societies at large.

Lessons from Pakistan

Women in Pakistan are gaining ground for progressive outcomes to achieve more inclusive politics. Through women’s movements and activism, the state has opened up democratic spaces for women by increasing the quota women in elected bodies.

A recent study in Pakistan looked beyond the creation of democratic spaces for women’s participation, to look instead at the constraints that women face in being able to use such spaces.

Listen to our special International Women’s Day –between the lines–podcast

Social scientist and activist, Ayesha Khan, has also been looking at how women’s collective action can be used to increase political voice in Pakistan. In her recent book, The Women’s Movement in Pakistan: Activism, Islam and Democracy, she explores how women’s rights activists mobilised as a result of oppressive Islamisation policies. In this –between the lines– podcast episode, Ayesha Khan discusses her book and the history of women’s movement in Pakistan with IDS Research Fellow Mariz Tadros.


The fight for women’s equality around the world continues. Positive outcomes on collective action are encouraging but there’s still a long way to go. Campaigns like #BalanceforBetter are important in showing solidarity and keeping these issues in the spotlight. So join in and help to accelerate a gender balanced world!

Read more about IDS’ work on women’s empowerment

Source: Institute of Development Studies

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