Sindh’s transgender population is a quarter of the country’s; the population would be over 300,000 in the province
The Sindh government is set to become the first province to guarantee jobs for transgender people after the provincial assembly passed an amendment to the civil services act. Despite significant support, the bill, which sets a 0.5% quota of jobs at public sector institutions, had been pending since last year. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Mukesh Kumar Chawla also admitted that while the quota is relatively small, the government will make sure that it is implemented in the public and private sectors, perhaps hinting at the problems that successive federal governments have encountered while trying to meet the federal quota.
Affirmative action in employment through the setting of quotas is common across the country, but the federation and provinces regularly fail to meet those quotas — Sindh already has quotas of 5% each for minorities and persons with disabilities but is behind on both counts. Meanwhile, previous department-level attempts to offer jobs to transgender people have also failed, most recently in 2019, when the Sindh police began inducting them into the force. However, according to recent reports, transgender police officials have still not been deployed. Similar initiatives have been announced and subsequently failed at the departmental level in other provinces as well.
Meanwhile, transgender rights groups have also highlighted problems with data collection relating to their population figures. The 2017 census put the nationwide transgender population at just 10,418, while the rights groups claim the figure is closer to 500,000. Among the prime issues with the official number is underreporting due to societal pressure.
International surveys usually put the global figure at around 2% of the world’s population, although that figure includes other gender identities beyond what is medically defined as transgender. However, even if we used a conservative estimate of 0.5% of the total population, it would come to almost 1.5 million people. Assuming that the nationwide breakdown for the disputed 2017 census is relatively accurate, Sindh’s transgender population is about a quarter of the country’s i.e. their real population would be over 300,000 in the province alone. In this light, setting aside just a few hundred government jobs for the oppressed group does seem more like the start than the finish line, as Chawla also noted. Now it remains to be seen how successful Sindh is in meeting its initial quota target, and when the other provinces will follow suit.