Global Human Rights Defence

Appointment of Female Judges to the Supreme Court of Pakistan
The United Nations Human Rights Council assembly room. Image Source: AFP. (Global Times, 2021).

By: Abdullah Mohsin


The controversy surrounding Justice Ayesha Malik’s1 elevation has sparked debate in Pakistan’s legal circles regarding the criterion for the elevation of judges to the Supreme Court of Pakistan, (‘SC’) and gender parity in the judiciary of superior courts. Thus, this article will explore the constitutional criterion for the appointment of judges to the SC; and whether there is a need for mandatory appointments of female judges to the SC. It will also make recommendations for creating greater gender parity in the SC.

The constitutional criteria for appointment under Article 175A 

Article 175A of the Constitution of Pakistan defines the criterion for the “Appointment of Judges to the Supreme Court[…]”. It requires the establishment of the “Judicial Commission of Pakistan” – or Commission – for the appointment of judges of the Supreme Court (‘SC’).

Moreover, it is stated that “The Commission by majority of its membership shall nominate to the Parliamentary Committee one person, for each vacancy of a Judge in the Supreme Court[…]”. Accordingly, “The Committee on receipt of a nomination from the Commission may confirm the nominee by majority of its total membership within fourteen days, failing which the nomination shall be deemed to have been confirmed”. In addition, the Committee is required to “[…]send the name of the nominee confirmed by it or deemed to have been confirmed to the Prime Minister who shall forward the same to the President for appointment.”

Is there a need for the mandatory appointment of female judges?

 It is apparent that the Pakistani Constitution seeks to create a two-tier system of judicial appointments, involving both the judiciary, i.e. the Commission, and the legislation, i.e. the Committee. This is thought to ensure greater ‘checks and balance’ in terms of appointments. However, this system has fallen short when it comes to creating gender parity in superior courts. Particularly, there has never been a female Supreme Court judge in Pakistan yet, creating ‘quota’ or ‘mandatory’ seats for women in the SC might not be the answer.

The SC, as the Apex Court, should consist of individuals of the highest legal calibre. Appointing someone on account of a quota system dilutes the meritorious composition of the Court. However, appointing judges on grounds of open merit can also be disadvantageous to female lawyers and judges, on account of the male-dominated nature of the legal system. In simpler terms, a smaller number of female lawyers and lower court judges, when compared with the count of male lawyers and judges, creates a severely limited pool of candidates to choose from in terms of appointments to the superior courts, particularly the SC.


In this regard, a long term solution is to create a conducive work environment for women to feel safe and encouraged to practice law. This might increase the number of women actively practising law, resulting in the expansion of the pool of candidates to choose from for the purpose of appointments to the superior courts. Some of the suggestions for creating a more ‘conducive work environment’ for women are: “[…]women should be introduced to litigation and taught the requisite techniques during the course of their law degrees”; provision of training in the language of the court “[…] so that the capacity to understand the proceedings and communicate with the staff effectively, can be

enhanced.”;  “a chamber governance system should be introduced to ensure equal access to

opportunities for all employees in the firm as well as […] a mentor-mentee program through which on- field training is imparted to junior lawyers, including female lawyers, in a more structured and result- oriented fashion and one in which the mentor is actually made responsible for the growth of his or her mentee.”; “Considering our society is still very conservative, where men and women do not freely interact, it is essential that men be acclimatized to work professionally with their female counterparts just as much as it is necessary to acclimatize the females to work with their male counterparts.”; 10“[…]a basic right to stipend should be ensured to them so that they [female lawyers] can pursue this profession with some economic return during their struggling years.”; “The legislature, bar councils, education providers as well as women themselves should collectively work towards the elimination of bias and harassment via awareness sessions, capacity building, constructive dialogues, exchange of ideas and equal access to opportunities[…]” etc.

Moreover, it might behove the Commission to actively provide strong consideration to the already existing female candidates. In addition, unlike the SC, there is no reason why the Commission and the Committee should not have mandatory female representation. Such steps might help to cut through the gender prejudice that prevents the elevation of female judges, thus creating greater gender parity.

The fiasco surrounding Justice Ayesha’s elevation involved bar councils across Pakistan, vehemently opposing the elevation on grounds of “seniority”. Bar councils have the potential to play an important role, by actively lobbying for the elevation of female judges, instead of going the other way around.


It might not be appropriate to create a quota for female judges in the SC, seeing as the SC should be constituted of the greatest legal minds in the country. However, steps are required to render the entire legal system gender inclusive. Greater female representation in the legal system, in general, will create a larger pool of candidates to choose from when appointing judges at the SC, or even at the High Courts.


Chaudhry, Nida Usman (October 4, 2021) The Fairer Sex In The Legal Profession: Tracing Women’s Place In A Man’s World. profession-tracing-womens-place-in-a-mans-world/.

Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973. See link: english/ UY2FqaJw1-apaUY2Fqa-apaUY2Fvbpw%3D-sg-jjjjjjjjjjjjj.

Malik, Hasnaat (September 9, 2021) Stalemate over Justice Ayesha’s elevation to the top court. See link: court.

24news (September 9, 2021) Lawyers boycott courts against Justice Ayehsa’s elevation to SC. https:// supreme-court.

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Coordinator - Tibet Team

Mandakini graduated with honours from the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights. Her team analyses the human rights violations faced by Tibetans through a legal lens.

Kenza Mena
Team Coordinator -China

Kenza Mena has expertise in international criminal law since she is currently pursuing a last-year Master’s degree in International Criminal Justice at Paris II Panthéon-Assas and obtained with honors cum laude an LLM in International and Transnational Criminal Law from the University of Amsterdam. She also holds a Bachelor’s degree in French and Anglo-American law. 

Since September 2021, she has been the coordinator of Team China at GHRD, a country where violations of human rights, even international crimes, are frequently perpetrated by representatives of the State. Within Team China, awareness is also raised on discrimination that Chinese women and minorities in the country and, more generally, Chinese people around the world are facing.

Kenza believes that the primary key step to tackle atrocities perpetrated around the world is advocacy and promotion of human rights.

Aimilina Sarafi
Pakistan Coordinator

Aimilina Sarafi holds a Bachelor’s degree cum laude in International Relations and Organisations from Leiden University and is currently pursuing a Double Legal Master’s degree (LLM) in Public International Law and International Criminal Law at the University of Amsterdam.
She is an active advocate for the human rights of all peoples in her community and is passionate about creating a better world for future generations. Aimilina is the coordinator for the GHRD team of Pakistan, in which human rights violations of minority communities in Pakistan are investigated and legally evaluated based on international human rights legal standards.
Her team is working on raising awareness on the plight of minority communities such as women, children, religious and ethnic minorities within Pakistan.

Lukas Mitidieri
Coordinator & Head Researcher- Bangladesh

Lucas Mitidieri is currently pursuing his bachelor’s degree in International Relations at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ). As the GHRD Bangladesh Team Coordinator, he advocates for human rights and monitors violations across all minorities and marginalized groups in Bangladesh. Lucas believes that the fight for International Human Rights is the key to a world with better social justice and greater equality.

Nicole Hutchinson
Editorial Team Lead

Nicole has an MSc in International Development Studies with a focus on migration. She is passionate about promoting human rights and fighting poverty through advocacy and empowering human choice. Nicole believes that even the simplest social justice efforts, when properly nurtured, can bring about radical and positive change worldwide.

Gabriela Johannen
Coordinator & Head Researcher – India

Gabriela Johannen is a lawyer admitted to the German bar and holds extensive knowledge in the fields of human rights, refugee law, and international law. After working for various courts and law firms in her home country, she decided to obtain an LL.M. degree from Utrecht University where she studied Public International Law with a special focus on Human Rights. Additionally, while working as a pro-bono legal advisor for refugees, she expanded her knowledge in the fields of refugee law and migration.

Gabriela is the coordinator and head researcher for GHRD India, a country, she has had a personal connection with since childhood. Her primary focus is to raise awareness for the severe human rights violations against minorities and marginalized groups that continue to occur on a daily basis in India. By emphasizing the happenings and educating the general public, she hopes to create a better world for future generations.

João Victor
Coordinator & Head Researcher – International Justice

João Victor is a young Brazilian lawyer who leads our team of International Justice and Human Rights. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Law from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and possesses over 5 years of experience in dealing with Human Rights and International Law issues both in Brazil and internationally, including the protection of refugees’ rights and the strengthening of accountability measures against torture crimes.

João has an extensive research engagement with subjects related to International Justice in general, and more specifically with the study of the jurisprudence of Human Rights Courts regarding the rise of populist and anti-terrorist measures taken by national governments. He is also interested in the different impacts that new technologies may provoke on the maintenance of Human Rights online, and how enforcing the due diligence rules among private technology companies might secure these rights against gross Human Rights violations.

Célinne Bodinger
Environment and Human Rights Coordinator

As the Environment and Human Rights Coordinator, Célinne is passionate about the health of our planet and every life on it.

Angela Roncetti
Team Coordinator and Head Researcher- South America

Angela holds a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) from Vitória Law School (FDV) in Brazil. Her research combines more than five years of experience conducting debates and studies on the rights of homeless people, the elderly, children, and refugees. Besides that, she also volunteers in a social project called Sou Diferente (I am Different in English), where she coordinates and takes part in actions aimed at the assistance and the emancipation of vulnerable groups in the cities of the metropolitan area of Espírito Santo state (Brazil).

Lina Borchardt
Team Head (Promotions)

She is currently heading the Promotions Team and University Chapter of Global Human Rights Defence. Her background is the one of European and International Law, which I am studying in The Hague. She has previously gained experience at Women´s Rights organizations in Germany, the Netherlands and Turkey over the past years.
She has been working for Global Human Rights Defence in the Netherlands since 2020. Her focus now is concentrated on the Human Rights and Minorities Film Festival and the cooperation of GHRD with students across the country.

Pedro Ivo Oliveira
Team Coordinator and Researcher

Pedro holds an extensive background in Human Rights, especially in Global Health, LGBTQ+ issues, and HIV and AIDS. He is currently finishing his Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations and Affairs at the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais, Brazil. Moreover, he successfully attended the Bilingual Summer School in Human Rights Education promoted by the Federal University of Minas Gerais and the Association of Universities of the Montevideo Group. Besides, Pedro Ivo has a diversified professional background, collecting experiences in many NGOs and projects.

With outstanding leadership abilities, in 2021, Pedro Ivo was the Secretary-General of the 22nd edition of the biggest UN Model in Latin America: the MINIONU. Fluent in Portuguese, English, and Spanish, Pedro Ivo is the Team Coordinator and Head Researcher of the Team Africa at Global Human Rights Defence. Hence, his focus is to empower his team from many parts of the world about the Human Rights Situation in the African continent, meanwhile having a humanized approach.

Alessandro Cosmo
GHRD Youth Ambassador
(European Union)

Alessandro Cosmo obtained his B.A. with Honors from Leiden University College where he studied International Law with a minor in Social and Business Entrepreneurship. He is currently pursuing an LL.M. in Public International Law at Utrecht University with a specialization in Conflict and Security. 
As GHRD’s E.U. Youth Ambassador, Alessandro’s two main focuses are to broaden the Defence’s reach within E.U. institutions and political parties, as well as mediate relations between human rights organizations abroad seeking European funding. 
Alessandro believes that human rights advocacy requires grass-roots initiatives where victims’ voices are amplified and not paraphrased or spoken for. He will therefore act on this agenda when representing Global Human Rights Defence domestically and abroad

Veronica Delgado
Team Coordinator and Researcher- Japan, Sri Lanka & Tibet

Veronica is a Colombian lawyer who leads our team of Japan, Sri Lanka and Tibet. She holds a master’s degree in Public International Law from Utrecht University. She has experience in Colombian law firms. Here she represented clients before constitutional courts. She also outlined legal concepts to state entities such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ombudsman’s Office on international law issues.

Veronica has an extensive research background with subjects related to public international law. She worked as an assistant researcher for more than two years for the Externado University of Colombia. Here she undertook in-depth research on constitutional, business, and human rights law issues. She was involved with consultancy services with the Colombian Army regarding transitional justice. 

Wiktoria Walczyk
Coordinator & Head Researcher (Nepal & Indonesia)

Wiktoria Walczyk has joined GHRD in June 2020 as a legal intern. She is currently coordinator and head researcher of Team Nepal and Indonesia. She has an extensive legal knowledge concerning international human rights and is passionate about children’s and minorities’ rights. Wiktoria has obtained her LL.B. in International & European Law and she specialised in Public International Law & Human Rights at The Hague University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands. Moreover, she is pursuing her LL.M. in International & European Law and focusing on Modern Human Rights Law specialisation at the University of Wroclaw in Poland. In order to gain an essential legal experience, Wiktoria has also joined Credit Suisse’s 2021 General Counsel Graduate First Program where she is conducting her legal training and discovering the banking world. She would like to make a significant impact when it comes to the protection of fundamental human rights around the world, especially with regard to child labour. 

Fairuz Sewbaks
Coordinator and Head Researcher

Fairuz Sewbaks holds extensive legal knowledge regarding international human rights, with a specific focus on human rights dealings taking place in continental Africa. She holds a bachelor’s degree from The Hague University in public international law and international human rights and successfully followed advanced human rights courses at the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria. She furthermore participated in the Istanbul Summer School where she was educated about the role of epidemics and pandemics in light of human rights.


Fairuz is the coordinator and head researcher for GHRD Africa. Her primary focus is to establish and coordinate long-term research projects regarding the differentiating human rights dealings of vulnerable and marginalized groups in continental Africa, as well as conducting individual research projects.

Priya Lachmansingh
Coordinator and Head Researcher, Political Advisor
(Asia & America)

Priya Lachmansingh is currently pursuing her bachelor’s degree in International & European
Law at the Hague University of Applied Science.
As GHRD’s Asia & America human rights coordinator and GHRD Political Advisor, Priya’s
prominent focus is to highlight human rights violations targeted against minority and
marginalized groups in Asia and America and to broaden GHRD reach within Dutch political
parties and as well seek domestic funding.

Jasmann Chatwal
Team Coordinator & Head Coordinator: North America

Jasmann is a political science student at Leiden University who joined GHRD in May 2021 as an intern in team Pakistan. Now, she is the team coordinator for North America and is responsible for coordinating the documentation of human rights violations in USA, Canada, and America.