According to a Gallup & Gilani Pakistan National Survey conducted in the year 1996 (21 years ago) respondents were asked “Some people think that according to Islamic perspective a woman cannot be the head of state, whereas others think that if a woman is capable and popular then there is nothing wrong in her being the head of the state. What is your opinion?” In response to this question, 23% said that a capable and popular woman can be head of state, 61% said cannot be the head of state, while 16% did not respond.
Comparative Picture: The question was asked again in 2017 to enable a concrete comparison. In 2017, 54% said that a capable and popular woman can be head of state, while 46% said otherwise.
According to public opinion, there has been a 31% increase in the proportion of Pakistanis who believe a capable and popular woman can be the head of state and a 15% decrease in the proportion of Pakistanis who believe a woman cannot be head of state.
Bilal I Gilani, Executive Director at Gallup Pakistan adds: “A deeper analysis and more qualitative understanding is needed for this positive shift. Moreover, one hypothesis certainly emerges that in 1996 when the poll was conducted for the first time, people’s views against a female head of state were polarized along party lines, as we had a sitting female PM in office at that time. In some sense, saying yes to the question in 1996, was socially less desirable for PML-N Voters. In the year 2017, now that there are no real women contenders for head of state, the views may be in some ways more realistic. However, we at Gilani Research Foundation are currently looking at this trend more minutely and all the above explanations are only hypothetical.”
This press release has been made as part of the Gallup Pakistan History Project which aims to release historical empirical polling data to wider audiences. The objective is to sustain and encourage empirical decision making in Pakistan.