Gender Inequality and ways to counter it

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Bilawal Ali Lund
Gender equality refers “ to principles of equality of women and men, exercise of all human rights including fundamental freedom and equal opportunities for both men and women in the political, economic, social, and cultural . Today’s world faces a persistent gap in access to opportunities and decision making for women and men. Women are an integral part of society and contributes in progress of nation. Importantly, women and men have an equal right to exercise their basic rights in society. Globally, women have fewer opportunities for economic participation then men, less access to basic and higher education, greater health and safety risks, and less political representation. However, Islam has granted an unprecedented spiritual, social, and cultural status to women and assigned a position of dignity of honor to women. The rights of women and giving them opportunities to reach their full potential is critical not only for attaining gender equality, but also for meeting a wide range of international development goals. Empowered women and girls contribute to the health and productivity of their families, communities, and countries, creating a ripple effect that benefits everyone. Importantly, Education is basic right to every male and female so the of females to seek knowledge is not different from that of a male. Although In the light of education Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H) said that” Seeking knowledge is mandatory for every Muslims(Al-Bayhaqi). Muslims are used here including both males and females the right to education is ensured. Although the world is making progress in achieving Gender parity in education, girls still make up a higher percentage of out-of-school children than boys. Approximately one quarter of girls in developing world don’t attend school. It is estimated that only 46.5 percentage Pakistani women are literate just 61.6 percentage girls in the country attend primary school, 34.2 percentage attend high school and 8.31 pc are enrolled in tertiary education sector. Moreover, prioritizing education provides perhaps the single highest return on investment in the developing world. An educated girl is more likely to postpone marriage, raise a smaller family, Have healthier children, and send her own children to school . She has more opportunities to earn an income and to participate in political processes. Women’s Empowerment is a critical aspect of achieving gender equality. It includes increasing a woman’s sense of self-worth, her decision-making power, her access to opportunities and resources, her power and control over her own life inside and outside the home, and her ability to effect change. On the other hand, There are several issues confronting women such as Gender inequality, forced marriages, female illiteracy, female poverty and domestic violence. It is disheartening to mention that many females are being harassed and rapped due to illiterate peoples of society and women don’t exercise equal rights as compare to men. Moreover, Pakistan’s literacy rate is low than the neighbouring countries: China 80pc, India 78pc, Iran 85pc and Pakistan has only 58pc literacy rate, while female illiteracy is worse than that of men because of overarching patriarchal culture and challenging condition for females. Furthermore, there is need to focus in attaining Gender equality in women’s economic and political empowerment. Throughout the country , women and girls perform long hours of unpaid domestic work. In some places, women still lack rights to own land or to inherit property, obtain access to credit earn income, or to move up in their workplace, free from job discrimination. At all levels, including at home and in the public arena , women are widely underrepresented as decision makers. It is pertinent to mention that despite women’s making up almost half of Pakistan’s population representing 48.76 percentage of the total population and only 25 percentage of Pakistani women participate in the Labour force compared with 85pc of women however only 18pc of Pakistanis Labour income goes to women.. According to Article 25 of the constitution of Pakistan 1973, guarantees that “There shall be no discrimination on the basis of sex and thus safeguard human rights”. Pakistan has legislated several laws for security of equality and safeguard of women’s rights but did not implement it effectively and it has plagued socioeconomic status of women in society. Nevertheless, it has been perceived that amid the outbreak of COVID-19 it has further increased gender inequalities in Pakistan. It is demonstrated that in our country 70 percent of women work in the informal sector many of them have lost their jobs during the pandemic and many women in rural areas have lost significant income due to their inability to sell Agri-products. Furthermore, the violence against women and girls including rape, murder, acid attacks, honor killing, domestic violence have soared throughout Pakistan. Human rights defenders estimated that roughly 1000 women are killed in in so called honor killing in every year. However, last year gang rape of a woman infront of her children on the Sialkot-Lahore motorway, all frustrated peoples who perpetrate shameful acts should be strictly accountable according to laws passed by National Assembly against Rape case otherwise they would perpetuate illicit acts and further degrade society. Pakistan’s Gender Gap has widened as it is ranked 153rd among 156 countries assured for the global gender gap index according to World economic forum 2021. The Global Gender Gap 2021 brings no glad tidings for Pakistan scorecard places Pakistan at 152 in economic participation and opportunity, 144 in educational attainment, 153 in health and survival, and 98 in political empowerment. The data overall assessment is that “Progress has stagnated Additionally, Child marriage also remains a serious concern in Pakistan. It is estimated that 21% of girls marrying before age 18 and 3% marrying before age 15. The fact that man’s role of leadership in relation to his family doesn’t mean the husband’s dictatorship over his wife, the husband needs to treat wife with patiently and polity and provide all rights as prescribed in Islam. The Holy prophet (P.B.U.H) said that “The best of you is the best to his family and Iam the best among you to my family. “The most perfect believers are the best in conduct and best of you are those who are best to their wives.”(Ibn-Hanbal). However, the major cause behind child marriage is Uneducated family, majority of parents give preference to early marriages of their daughters rather than providing basic right of education so that they she could lead life progressively. It is rightly said that “If you educate a man, you educate an individual but if you educate a woman, you educate a nation. There is no denying the fact that when females are educated, their countries become stronger and more prosperous . Women’s health and safety is another major serious concern. This can be related to women having fewer opportunities for health, education, unequal power in sexual partnership, or a result of gender based violence. Maternal health is also an issue of specific concern. Women have often limited access to parental and infant care, and are more likely to experience complications during pregnancy and childbirth. Therefore, quality maternal health care can provide an important entry point for information and services that empower mothers as informed decision makers concerning their own health and health of their children.. There is a pressing need in Pakistan for a supportive system that can address these issues in order to allow women to make the choices that work best for them and their family, the society must recognize the role of women in the country and family. Given the vulnerable situation of women and girls in Pakistan, it is crucial to incorporate gender sensitive nutrition components into programs at all policy levels Unfortunately, Despite strict laws and social awareness, Domestic violence in Pakistan is prevailing at an alarming rate. Almost one in three Pakistani women report facing domestic physical violence by partners, and in-laws. According to survey conducted on 23 September 2018, by Thomas Reuter Corporation, Pakistan was ranked as the sixth most dangerous nation on the planet for women. The predominant power structure in Pakistan is patriarchy, in which the male figure is in control of all affairs, public and private, thus assuming a dominant position . Women have been excluding from setting on choices and are considered socially and financially dependent on men. According to media reports, more than 51,241 cases of violence against women’ were reported between January 2018 and October 2020 and it is estimated that about 70 to 90 percent of Pakistani women are subjected to domestic violence. Women who have experienced domestic violence have negative impacts on their children and herself such as psychological and behavioral disturbances, anxiety and depression. Domestic violence and oppression of women is unacceptable. The constitution of Pakistan ensures women’s security against any form of violence in its Articles 3 and 11. It is high time to act on this issue in Pakistan. Society, too, needs to step up for its women. Merely introducing laws that lack proper implementation therefore state has to fulfill its responsibility regarding women’s protection. It is responsibility of the state to give protection to its citizens in Public and private places. If we don’t address violence against women and girls sustainable growth will remain elusive. In the light of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights the article 2 of which asserts that “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedom set forth this declaration without distinction of any kind such as race, color , sex, language, religion and politics. However, Quaid-e-Azam expounded the importance of women in following words said that ”There are two powers in the world one is the sword and other is pen and there is a great competition and Rivalry between the two there is a third power stronger than both and that is of woman. They have a right to achieve their dreams and struggle for it so that we need to utilize their talent in the right place and admit their state in country’s progress. It is notable that Nation can progress only when women treats equal as men in society and access immense job opportunities so prosperity and progress could be a fate of Pakistan. Last but not least, It is responsibility on every Pakistanis to eliminate discrimination on the basis of male and female . There is a need to legislate on issues concerning women like female literacy, employment, female inheritance, participation in cultural and sports activities and their education in technology is highly required for their dignified position in Muslim countries. Male chauvinism, Patriarchal system, social system, social biase, domestic violence, forced marriages and denial of inheritance need to get the women liberated from the gropes of darkness and backwardness and to ensure them a respected and independent living. An effective and equality in males and females in society must be adopted, healthy women and Children will produce improved, empowered, and developed communities will in turn, make a healthy contribution towards Pakistan’s development and future.