News Analysis |
The World Economic Forum, Global Gender Gap of 2016 has noted that out of the 144 countries in the world, Pakistan stands at 143rd with the gender gap at 34%.This essentially means that 34% of the women in Pakistan have access to the same amenities, are treated fairly and equally as men.
The remaining 66% women are political, socially and domestically are discriminated against. This ranking puts Pakistan on the global women rights watch, which does not come as a surprise. Since the rise of radicalism in the 1980’s, women’s rights have been diminishing and there has been an attempt to maintain a balance between fundamentalism and liberalism.
Since Pakistan’s population is still majorly rural-concentrated, the gender gap is not going to draw to a close anytime soon, especially considering the lack of necessary steps by successive governments. Recently, a motion to extend the legal age of marriage from 16 to 18 years was shot down by the parliament.
The National assembly needs to assign actual roles to the massive representation that enjoys power through the virtue of oppressed women.
This is not the first time an initiative like this has been turned down. In 2014, Sindh assembly passed a resolution of similar nature and it was subsequently presented to the National assembly. The national lawmaking consortium had shot it down back then. Even so, areas in interior Sindh, gone unchecked and under feudal control, retain their number of child marriages and barter.
This would have been a milestone in countering the dilemma of child marriages. On an average, 57-60% of the girls bound in wedlock are between the ages of 15-19 and have not had formal education. This also impacts other areas of development, often leading to poverty, poor health, vulnerability to HIV/AIDS, and maternal/infant mortality.
Infant mortality is another list that Pakistan has often topped. In 2012, Pakistan had the highest infant mortality rate in the world, at 40.7 deaths per birth. This figure increased in 2016 to 50 stillbirths per 1000 live births. Although this may be attributed to disastrous health facilities, child marriages also contribute a great deal.
In the rural-urban split, rural women contribute to agriculture and urban women mostly work in educational institutes.
Pakistan ranks 143rd in terms of economic participation of women out of 144 total countries. These numbers are brought up by sexism, bigotry, male-dominance in society, illiteracy and lack of awareness. Although working women are growing in numbers in urban settings, the rural situation remains at a stalemate.
In terms of education for women which has almost the same factors as economic participation, the foremost being illiteracy, and cultural norms, Pakistan is ranked 136th in the world. Pakistani women are ranked higher in terms of political participation on the 95th position, with 75 women being members of the parliament and 139 women being in ministerial positions
This is not necessarily a positive statistic, however; with as many women in the legislative body, the gender gap is even more outrageous and raises a question on the performance of all these individuals.On the professional and technical workers list, Pakistani women stood at 122nd. This depicts a major factor: Pakistani women comprise 49% of the population.
The 34% of the women in Pakistan have access to the same amenities, are treated fairly and equally as men.
With 16% women working technical and professional jobs, a huge skilled workforce is amiss. In the rural-urban split, rural women contribute to agriculture and urban women mostly work in educational institutes. There are hardly any women in the manufacturing and industrial sector. All of these statistics indicate that Pakistan, for the most part, has not progressed in social development.
Read more: Pakistani women and the bottom of the table
Social development is defined as the progressive growth of all the elements in the structure of a society. Since Pakistani women constitute almost half of the population, the constraints on the role of women have and will prove to be destructive in the years to come unless major changes are made. With the world moving towards equality and closing the gaps on all fronts, Pakistan needs to have a serious look at its priorities. The National assembly needs to assign actual roles to the massive representation that enjoys power and amenities through the virtue of oppressed women.