Gender Insight in Pakistan | Murtaza Talpur

In almost all institutions in Pakistan where women work they face different behaviours of discrimination. They are given less importance in decision-making. Out of the 47 million employed people in Pakistan in 2008, only nine million were women

The proportion of women in Pakistan is around 53 percent; even though they are in the majority they are living very miserable lives. The rural as well as urban woman in Pakistan has so much talent and aptitude but the predicament is that in a male dominated society, women’s abilities have been culled. Their potentials have been degraded.

The countryside of Pakistan has a high rate of poverty and an alarmingly low rate of literacy. It was recorded in 2002 that 81.5 percent of 15 to 19-year-old girls from high-income families had appeared in school and 22.3 percent of girls from low-income families had never attended school. The rural-urban divide in the education sector has caused alarming consequences in the country.

According to UNESCO, the Education for All Global Monitoring Report, 2011 says that there are 7.261 million children out of school at the primary level in Pakistan and that 58 percent are female. In almost all institutions in Pakistan where women work they face different behaviours of discrimination. They are given less importance in decision-making. Out of the 47 million employed people in Pakistan in 2008, only nine million were women and of those nine million, 70 percent worked in the agricultural sector. The income of Pakistani women in the labour force is generally lower than that of men.

The situation is very embarrassing in various parts of Pakistan where women are not allowed to go out of their homes and are even not permitted to attend school. “Women are born to do household chores; what will they do if they are educated? Many young men in our village have been educated but they have not gotten any job,” were the words of a villager in some remote area of Sindh.

The Global Gender Gap Report (2015) illustrates that out of 145 countries, Pakistan stands second last. On economic participation and opportunity, Iran, Jordan, Pakistan, Syria and Yemen hold the last five spots on this sub-index. In spite of all the efforts being made, we have been lagging behind to fill the gender gap, which shows the poor planning and dishonesty towards filling this gap from the government as well as other concerned institutions.

According to the Gender Inequality Index (GII) 2014, out of 155 countries, Pakistan ranked at 121. Moreover, a report says that in Pakistan, only 19.7 percent of parliamentary seats are occupied by women and 19.3 percent of adult women have reached, in any case, a secondary level of education compared to 46.1 percent of their male counterparts. For every 100,000 live births, 170 women die from pregnancy related stress and the adolescent birth rate is 27.3 births per 1,000 women of ages 15 to 19. The participation of females in the labour market is about 24.6 percent compared to 82.9 for men.

The Global Gender Gap Index (GGGI) 2014 says that out of 142 countries, Pakistan stands at 141 in the gender gap. Yemen, the lowest ranking country, has closed just over 50 percent of the gender gap and Bangladesh is at 68. Furthermore, the report explains that Pakistan occupies the last place in the regional ranking. The country’s score has oscillated over the past nine years, with a minor improvement shown when compared to 2006. On the Economic Participation and Opportunity Sub-Index, Pakistan has experienced one of the highest negative percentage changes relative to its 2006 score. However, it has accomplished one of the uppermost percentage changes comparative to its own 2006 score on the Educational Attainment Sub-Index; the score still falls below the 2014 world average on that sub-index. Pakistan ranked at 141 on the Economic Participation and Opportunity Sub-Index in the year 2014. It is one of the 10 lowest-performing countries on all indicators of this sub-index with the exception of wage equality for parallel work. Pakistan is one of the three countries with the lowest percentage of firms with female participation in ownership. Finally, the country ranks at 119th on the Health and Survival Sub-Index and 85th on the Political Empowerment Sub-Index.

The increasing gender gaps in Pakistan can only be overcome by giving due rights to women in all spheres. They must be provided proper education both in rural as well as urban areas. Political will is an added value for gender empowerment in the country. Moreover, as an individual need we need to understand the potentials that women have in our society instead of prisoning them the four walls of the home; we have to allow them to live free, liberal and dignified lives. In addition, the outmoded values and norms seen everywhere here for women, which have made their lives hell, need to be shattered.

The writer is a development professional. He may be contacted at


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