Home Global Village 48% of Pakistani Women have no say in their health matters

48% of Pakistani Women have no say in their health matters

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News Analysis |

A United Nations Report titled “Turning Promises into Action- Agenda 2030” has been released revealing disturbing statistics that demonstrate how far behind Pakistan is in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals Agenda 2030. Goals that include achieving gender equality and improved healthcare.

The report reveals that the state of women in Pakistan is abysmal. The development of women is not making any significant progress and the lack of education and proper healthcare are the key factors that contribute to this discrimination and inequality. The UN report states that 48% of women in Pakistan do not even have a direct say in their own health matters, which causes them to suffer abominable mortality rates during child birth, contract serious diseases, and suffer major health setbacks as a result.

In the Sustainable Development Goals, the third goal is good health and well-being which centers on the need to utilize an integrated approach that aims to alleviate poverty and ending epidemics such as tuberculosis through providing effective medicines and vaccines for all. The recent UN report that has been released after conducting an extensive research on how much progress in Pakistan since it signed up to the Sustainable Development Goals two years ago.

We need to stand up for basic rights and the fact that women in this country do not have decision making power when it comes to their health is not only shameful but humiliating and atrocious.

The report findings demonstrate a complete lack of implementation of necessary reforms, legislations and measures in the direction of ensuring quality education and healthcare to women in Pakistan.

The report found that 98.8 per cent of women from the poorest rural households lack proper education, most of them have only completed six or less years of education. Out of all the provinces, it was found that the rural Pashtun women are not only the most deprived in education but also have the least amount of say in decisions that regard their own health care.

The UN report titled “Turning Promises into Action” emphasizes that merely signing international conventions such as the Sustainable Development Goals is not good enough. It highlights the severity of structural inequalities and demonstrates how interdependent components are in societies. Therefore asserting the need for the Government to address all related social and economic issues in their quest to achieve monumental targets such as Gender Equality.

Read more: Have Pakistani women broken negative stereotypes?

Pakistan is one of the four countries highlighted in the report where 4.9 million women that are aged between 18 and 49 years are simultaneously deprived in a staggering four Sustainable Development Goals. The Gender Gap Index which was released in 2015 ranked Pakistan 2nd from the bottom among 145 countries. Various factors that contribute to this harrowing reality have been identified and studied, such as poverty, ethnicity, discrimination and gender inequality.

Factors such as low literacy, food insecurity, debilitating poverty, barbaric interpretations of religion, violence and discrimination against women has caused Pakistan to be a country that should be ashamed for the way that women are mistreated.

The class system plays a huge role in the disadvantageous position of women who belong to lower income families; where in nine out of ten categories, women who belong to the poorest 20% of rural households live in far worse conditions than women and girls belonging to 20% of the richest households in urban areas.

In an ethnically diverse country like Pakistan, ethnicity also plays a key role in defining the conditions that women live in as well as the amount of access that they have to education and healthcare. It was found that in the case of malnutrition (proxied by a low Body Mass Index), “Sindhi women and girls from the poorest rural households fare far worse than any other group across all wealth quintiles and locations. “However, the most disadvantaged ethnic group often varies with changing social, political, religious and economic factors and oscillates between the Sindhi, Saraiki and Pashtun. It has been found that on average, 48.1 per cent of women and girls aged between 15 and 49 years in Pakistan have no say in decisions regarding their own health care.

Read more: Pakistani women and the bottom of the table

 Women and girls in rural areas are 1.3 times as likely to report having no say in decisions regarding their own health care as compared to those in urban areas: 52.5pc compared to 39.3pc, respectively. However it is important to note that the differences in ethnicity is the biggest contributor to inequality in the country. Ethnicity reveals the largest inequalities, with Pashtun and Sindhi women and girls most likely to report having no say (65.2pc and 62.5pc, respectively) and Saraiki, Punjabi and Urdu least likely (44.0, 40.4 and 31.9pc, respectively).

It is terrifying to come face to face with the reality that women in this country are not given the most basic fundamental human right to life when they are denied proper healthcare resulting in increased maternal mortality rates.

A detailed analysis of women that are most likely to be disadvantaged such as those belonging to the poorest rural households — suggests that in six of the 10 dimensions studied, Sindhi and Saraiki women and girls fare the worst while Pashtun and Punjabi women tend to fare better.

Read more: Masculine ‘work goals’ obstructs pregnancy in working women

It is important to note that at a meeting of World Leaders that took place in New York on September 27th 2015, Nawaz Sharif was a strong and vociferous proponent of making strong commitments to achieve the goal of gender equality. Similarly, Ahsan Iqbal pledged that the “highest priority will be given to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals” which not only implies that the SDG have far-reaching political interests, but also that the gap between the theoretical framework of goals and their implementation is so huge that there is no significant impact of international conventions, agreements and goals in the context of Pakistan.

Pakistan is one of the four countries highlighted in the report where 4.9 million women that are aged between 18 and 49 years are simultaneously deprived in a staggering four Sustainable Development Goals.

It is terrifying to come face to face with the reality that women in this country are not given the most basic fundamental human right to life when they are denied proper healthcare resulting in increased maternal mortality rates. Globally Pakistan’s ranking in the Mother Mortality Ratio has slipped to 149 from 147 according to a report by Save the Children.

Factors such as low literacy, food insecurity, debilitating poverty, barbaric interpretations of religion, violence and discrimination against women has caused Pakistan to be a country that should be ashamed for the way that women are mistreated. We need to stand up for basic rights and the fact that women in this country do not have decision making power when it comes to their health is not only shameful but humiliating and atrocious.


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