Situation of women in Pakistan

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The situation of women in Pakistan is quite challenging. Women there face many obstacles in their daily lives, including limited access to education, healthcare, and employment opportunities. Additionally, they are more likely to experience violence and harassment, both in public and private spaces. Despite some progress in recent years, there is still a long way to go to achieve gender equality in Pakistan.

According to the Global Gender Gap Index Report 2022, Pakistan ranks 145/156 for economic participation and opportunity, 135/156 for educational attainment, 143/156 for health and survival, and 95/156 for political empowerment. Furthermore, Pakistan ranks 130/139 countries on the Rule of Law Index of the World Justice Project. The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap 2022, ranks Pakistan higher on political participation at 95/146 as more women than ever before are participating in political activity. Women, however, continue to remain underrepresented in leadership roles and are restricted from taking up positions in the political/public sphere due to systemic challenges arising from patriarchal notions.

Women are facing many challenges due to cultural and societal norms that often reinforce gender stereotypes and restrict women’s freedoms. These challenges can be seen in many areas of women’s lives, including education, healthcare, and employment.

Women in Pakistan have limited access to quality education, particularly in rural areas. This can make it difficult for them to develop the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in the workforce. The overall literacy rate of women in Pakistan is still 45% which is the lowest in the region. Only 4% of female students can reach the degree level which is mayhem for the nation. Additionally, cultural attitudes towards women’s education can make it difficult for girls to attend school, with many families prioritizing the education of their sons over their daughters.

Women have limited access to healthcare services, particularly in rural areas. This can make it difficult for them to access the care they need to maintain their health and well-being. The majority of the country’s Basic Health Centers and Regional Health Centers are not operational while the rest have no emergency and obstetrical care for 24 hours. 30,000 young women die each year from pregnancy issues i.e. mortality rate is 340 out of 100,000. With each passing hour, 3 women lose their lives from pregnancy complications. Maternal deaths are rising to record level which is mainly caused by hemorrhage, hypertension, and infections. 75000 villages have no proper road to the care centers for women. Additionally, cultural attitudes towards women’s health can make it difficult for them to seek care, with many women feeling uncomfortable discussing their health issues with male healthcare providers.

Women in Pakistan often face significant barriers to entering the workforce. The employment ratio of a woman Is 48% which is not connecting the dots of the developmental criteria of a country. Many women are expected to prioritize their roles as wives and mothers over their careers, which can make it difficult for them to pursue their professional aspirations. Additionally, cultural attitudes towards women in the workforce can make it difficult for them to succeed, with many women facing discrimination and harassment in the workplace.

Women are more likely to experience violence and harassment, both in public and private spaces. This can make it difficult for them to feel safe and secure and can limit their opportunities to participate fully in society. Additionally, cultural attitudes towards violence against women can make it difficult for them to seek justice, with many women feeling ashamed or afraid to report incidents of violence.

Despite these challenges, there have been some positive developments in recent years. For example, there has been increased representation of women in politics and the workforce, which has helped to raise awareness of women’s issues and promote gender equality. Additionally, there have been efforts to improve access to education and healthcare for women, which has helped to empower women and improve their quality of life.

The Pakistan Vision 2025, which aligns with the United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (UNSDCF) 2023-2027 for Pakistan, also prioritizes basic rights and gender equality as central tenants of the country’s development agenda, focusing on the need for gender-responsive planning, engagement of vulnerable and marginalized groups, and increased reporting of violence against women (VAW) and related cases. In its first National Security Policy (2022-2026), the Government of Pakistan recognizes ‘gender security’ as a key pillar and aims to “ensure integration of gender equity into national security narratives through full and meaningful participation of women in decision-making, law enforcement, the justice sector, and peacekeeping.”