Women hold up half the sky


By Uzair Aslam

The word gender, it is safe to assume, it yet to be fully comprehended by a common Pakistani dweller. Alarmingly, words such as gender, and sex, are considered as taboos by a decent portion of our society. What makes it worse is the fact that the issue is yet to be shed light-upon by the authorities. Could our country overcome its current problems without addressing the issue? It is hard to see how.

Let’s look at it; what has a Pakistani woman not achieved? She’s an artists, a public speaker, an athlete, a pilot, she has summited Mount Everest, and has merely everything you could have asked for. With bags of talent, all you need to do is invest a bit of time and it is then only a matter of time before you start seeing results. In all actuality, in no way is a woman, from another part of the world, superior to a Pakistani woman. Then why does she not have the right to a life that’s on-par with men?

Pakistan is home to over 180 million people, with just over half of these being women. Imagine the difference empowering women, in an unstable economy likes our, could make to the country. Analysts suggest that incorporating women within our plans, utilizing their abilities to the fullest could help the country double the GDP. Unfortunately though, women in our country continue to remain at the foot of the socio-economic ladder.

According to statistics published just over 12 months ago, Pakistan was ranked second-to-bottom in terms of gender equality in the world; surprised? Well, you shouldn’t be, because that is exactly how bad the situation has gotten over the past few years, and it continues to deteriorate only as we go on. According to the consolidated constitution of 1973, inequality amid genders was barred; has that been the case though? Only a fool would argue.

One reason that adds to the cause is the fact that most girls, particularly in the rural areas, are not allowed to go to school; instead, they are forced to serve as maids in our households, only for a few thousand rupees. On the contrary, the scenes are very different in our urban cities.

The schools, regardless of their conditions, are up and running in backwards areas as well, although the strength of girls is devastatingly low. The question that remains is, why? Why can your son go to school, but your daughter has to get married in her teens? Why does she have to do the dishes, wipe the floors, or cook for others all her life? With that said, it would be safe to assume that gender inequality, like charity, also begins at home.

Our religion, and the Holy Quran, lay massive emphasis on the fact man and women must be treated equally; yet, an Islamic republic like ours remains to be the center for violating women rights.  For decades now, empowerment is something that most women in our country have only dreamt of. Certainly, the matter has seen developments over the past few decades, with the lives of women unquestionably having improved. The question that remains is, has enough been done? Another element which must be considered is the regional disparity; the urban cities developments to a certain extent, although the situation in rural areas has, more or less, stalled for decades.

To sum things up, the fact that the current generation exhibits a fairly-low literacy rate only makes sense.  Big things await the fate of this country, if it manages to incorporate women in its long-term plan. Like they say, ‘you educate a man; you educate a man. You educate a woman; you educate a generation.’