Gender inequality is as endemic to Pakistan as poor economic growth and poverty. Gender discrimination or inequality is the prejudicial treatment of an individual or group due to gender. Gender inequality is a social condition in which men and women are not treated with equity.
Gender inequality is a problem so deep-rooted in Pakistan that almost every woman, no matter which class or ethnicity she belongs to, must have faced gender-based discrimination at some point in life. Sometimes it occurs in the form of lowering the social space for women, sometimes by reducing her role in decision-making processes even in the household or very private matters, or else by denying her the authority to make her living. The COVID-19 Pandemic has worked as fuel on the fire as far as the issue of gender inequality is concerned in Pakistan.
In a country like Pakistan the gender-based inequality, probably, starts from the very beginning of her life and goes till the end. For instance, women especially those of poor socio-economic status or tribal areas are taught not to interfere in the decision making at all even in the issues of domestic concerns. Their role in governance and political matters is still far from imagination.
It is often thought as a matter of pride that their women sit quietly at home and have nothing to do with, whatever happens, the next-door neighbour. Although the price of this ignorance is very high sometimes still the socio-religious interpretation of the issue takes a lead.
The issue of gender inequality in third world country like Pakistan can be ascertained from a nutritional standpoint as well. In Pakistan, gender inequality and its impact on malnutrition start at childbirth. Despite the awareness and changing modern behaviours the birth of a baby girl is still not very much a matter to celebrate as that of the other gender. There prevail certain taboos in the upbringing of the girls at least in the larger proportion of the country’s population.
Yet another feature that testifies the prevalence of gender inequality is the differential job opportunities for women. Also, women are less paid workers in various job fields. The ILO reports that globally women represent 40pc of total employment, but makeup 57pc of the cadre of part-time workers; 69pc of low earners are women.
Women in Pakistan are far less paid and work than males. This issue is mainly provident in the private and services sector. Women work thrice as many hours as men on average globally and up to 10 times more in Pakistan. During the COVID-19 lockdown, the workload has so far increased on the part of women due to work from home job culture as well as homeschooling.
Accounting for both unpaid care and paid work, women work thrice as many hours as men on average globally, and up to 10 times more in Pakistan. There is excessive drudgery and time burden of unpaid care for women. During the lockdown, this disproportionate burden of household work increased even further. As families stayed home all day, basic domestic responsibilities – such as cooking and cleaning – increased as did the burden of home-schooling.
Unequal responsibility for unpaid care work continues to constrain women’s mobility and time, impeding their access to education, healthcare, skills development, technology, and financial services. However, Pakistani women quite often don’t consider engaging in house chores as a matter of disregard. This is an issue entirely related to western women.
Crimes against women are yet another manifestation of the fact that gender inequality exists in Pakistan. Violence against women – particularly intimate partner violence and sexual violence – is a major public health problem and a violation of women’s human rights.
Domestic violence is somewhat endemic to third-world societies like that of Pakistan and unfortunately, it is something that has become socially accepted norm and morally justified quite often.
Repeated lockdowns seem to add up to the miseries of the women even more. Between January to December last year, Pakistan reported 2,279 cases of violence against women. This information is based on data collected from 25 districts of Punjab alone. The situation is equally troublesome in the rest of the regions as the news pertaining to the women rights abuses make the headlines from every nook and corner of the country.
Workplace harassment and cyberbullying are also issues to which Pakistani women are confronted with but due to societal taboos and associated family honour, such crimes go underreported most often
Honour killing is by far still an issue of prime importance as far as gender inequality in Pakistan is concerned. The word “honour killing” itself sounds so insulting and presumably gives a kind of moral cover to justify the crimes and abuses of heinous nature.
Women have poor to low access to technology as well. According to a study, women in Pakistan are 37 per cent less likely to own a mobile phone or have an access to the internet. Again this also relates so well to the so-called honour of the family and it is a generous belief that less social a woman more pious she is.
Dowry related harassment is yet another demonstration of the deep-seated gender inequality. More are the items of dowry, more a women thought to be respectful. Although this problem can’t be correlated with all the women in Pakistan yet it is the case for a considerable majority.
Women’s participation in politics is still a case far from gender equality. There’s a lot more to say on the issue of prevailing gender inequality in Pakistan but to cut the long story short, it is suggested that women’s role shouldn’t be negated or undermined if the country and its leadership wants to employ human capital in full.
One-liner solution to the issues pertaining to gender inequality is to increase the presence of women in various departments and job cultures. Rest will be handled by the magnificent creature themselves.
In conclusion, these golden words of Quaid-e-Azam can’t be put in abeyance if the importance of gender equality has to be analyzed.
The founder of the nation clearly said that no nation can rise to the height of glory unless your women are side by side with you. Women are, perhaps, that part of the society about which one can assuredly say that whether you like it or not but you can’t ignore it at all.