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Published Date: Jun 24, 2014

Social Accountability of Women in Pakistan: A case study of Sialkot (W – 144)


Social Accountability as a mean of holding the state accountable to its citizens is not usually practiced in Pakistan. One of the prerequisites of Social Accountability is the right to information. Though laws exist in this regard such as Article 19A of the Constitution, according to which every citizen has right to information, the promulgation of laws is the real issue. The second major hindrance in the way of Social Accountability is the capacity and capability of citizens as how much they have empowered themselves to fight for their rights. They cannot be able to influence political decisions unless they have the complete knowledge of government policies and their possible impact on the society.

Among the different approaches of SA, one   is the bottom-up approach, which Ackerman (2005) describes as “citizens holding state authorities accountable by demanding the uprightness to be done”. This approach lifts up the confidence level as well as the sense of belongingness of the community to a country. Moreover, by  adopting the bottom-up approach, the increased demand for the effective utilization of resources on one hand, and result-based implementation of policies on the other, lead to improved performance of state officials.

Though the bottom-up approach is a developing phenomenon in Pakistan, the segregation of male and female participation seeking answerability is another paramount factor. Thus, the Social Accountability, not only in itself, is in the initial phase but also accompanied with low women participation into it. The lack of gender balance in accountability practices can be envisioned as one of the major factors deterring this practice to fully flourish in Pakistan. A number of studies refer the importance of gender balance to make the social accountability processes fully functional.

Additionally, the paper explores the status of female participation in Social Accountability practices in Pakistan. In addition, the paper highlights the problems women have to face in SA initiatives. However, the female participation in rural and urban areas has different impacts. That’s why, the paper also undertakes an assessment of urban-rural differences, as viewed by women toward social accountability.

In order to explain the objectives of the paper, Sialkot, a city of the Punjab province, has been selected as a case study. The rationale behind selecting this city was the availability of rich data collected under “Aawaz: voice and accountability program” of Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI).