That women in Pakistan are not treated as equals is unfortunately not news. Women, for the most part, have been deprived of their basic rights and many don’t even realise that females in their household are discriminated against. A recently-released UN report catalogues the extent to which they are marginalised. According to the report, an overwhelming majority or 98.8 per cent of women — most of them hailing from impoverished households — are education poor, a term that defines an individual only having six or less years of education. Women in rural Pashtun areas are at a particularly vulnerable position as they are deprived of education and have absolutely no say in decisions made regarding their own healthcare.
The report takes into account all Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of Agenda 2030 of which Pakistan is a signatory, and examines how they impact the female population. It reveals that around 4.9 million women and girls in the country are deprived in four SDG variables: child marriage, education, healthcare and employment. Moreover, 20 per cent of women and girls from the poorest households fare worse than their counterparts from the richest households in across nine out of 10 dimensions.
The report highlights a very bleak picture for women and girls in Pakistan. Some do not even have access to clean cooking fuel while others fare poor in terms of their nutritional level as food insecurity among women was reported to be a staggering 11 per cent higher than men. While policymakers and politicians often talk about women’s empowerment and inclusiveness in every sphere, the report paints a gloomy picture of gender inequality.
Bearing in mind the rampant violence against women in the country, there is little hope that any immediate efforts will be made to help aid the female population. However, the recommendations made in the report such as investments in accessible, affordable and quality education and care should be considered not only by the present government but also the next one that comes into power after the general elections.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 16th, 2018.
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