Meet Justice Ayesha Malik, Pakistan's first female Supreme Court judge

Meet Justice Ayesha Malik, Pakistan's first female Supreme Court judge

She has not only made history but also opened barriers for many such women in a country where Islamic rule is harder than the Arabic countries.

Justice Ayesha Malik made history on 24th January 2022 when she was sworn in as the first female judge on Pakistan's Supreme Court.

Government officials and human rights advocates hail her victory, which came after a particularly controversial nomination process, as a turning point for the nation and its male-dominated judiciary.

On her being reached to the top court, the Human Right Commission of Pakistan released a statement and said "As the first woman judge appointed to the apex court in the country's judicial history, this is an important step towards improving gender diversity in the judiciary, where women reportedly account for only 17 percent of judges overall and just under 4.4 percent in the high courts."

According to Human Rights Watch, Pakistan is the only country in South Asia that has never had a female Supreme Court judge prior to her elevation.

Now the question is who is Justice Malik?

Malik's legacy on Lahore's High Court includes outlawing virginity tests in sexual assault cases

Justice Malik is 56 years old. She finished her elementary schooling at institutions in Paris, New York, Karachi, and London. She later went on to receive degrees from the Government College of Commerce & Economics in Karachi, the Pakistan College of Law in Lahore, and Harvard Law School in the United States.

Before being appointed to the high court in the eastern city of Lahore in 2012, she worked at two different law firms, according to a court biography.

She has also contributed to publications like the Oxford Reports on International Law in Domestic Courts, taught banking and mercantile law at several institutions, and worked pro bono as legal counsel for organizations that aim to reduce poverty. She also has three children to raise.

Malik has testified as an expert witness in family law matters regarding child custody, women's rights, and constitutional protection for Pakistani women in England and Australia. She earned a reputation for integrity and discipline on the bench, where she contributed to several historic decisions regarding significant constitutional questions.

Despite her qualifications, her path to Pakistan's top court was not straightforward, in part because she was the bench's fourth-most senior judge in Lahore.

According to the BBC, she was appointed to the role last year but was rejected by a vote. This year, the nine-member committee unanimously approved her nomination to fill a vacancy caused by the retirement of another judge in August.

In the months prior to the vote, some attorneys and judges had expressed their objections to her selection, charging that she had bypassed more experienced male applicants. Geo TV in Pakistan claims that the Pakistan Bar Council even announced that it will strike.

The controversial process came to an end when Malik was sworn in at a ceremony that was televised on television by Pakistan's Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed.

Advocates claim that her trailblazing work is encouraging for women on both sides of the bench.

Numerous public people in Pakistan expressed their gratitude and congrats on social media when she reached to the top court of Pakistan.

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