Free Women Empowerment in Pakistan Dissertation Example
Pakistan has been among the counties that rank the poorest in gender equality. The percentage of women that are educated and those that are in the workforce are still deficient. Additionally, the number of women in leadership in government agencies and the legislative body is lower than the recommended ratio. There is the need to promote women empowerment in the country. This paper addresses essential issues concerning women empowerment. It will define the role of international organization and assess the progress of the nation in implementing the recommendations. It will provide a brief history of the status of women in Pakistan. The paper also provides an in-depth assessment of the current state of women in the country. It will also highlight some of the progress achieved in the country. Further, the paper also provides a few recommendations that should be implemented to aid in solving the current challenges faced by women.
Women Empowerment in Pakistan
Women empowerment is the advocacy of the freedoms and rights of women to match those of their male counterparts. In various regions around the world, women are not offered the same opportunities as their male counterparts. In some countries, the women’s freedoms are limited to a point where they feel oppressed. Although the limitation of women’s freedoms and opportunities mostly occurs in developing nations, it is also common to find such challenges in the developed world. The United Nations states that women empowerment involves strategies that touch on education for women, addressing culture and traditions that oppress women, tackling violence against women, the economic empowerment that is supported through women non-governmental reorganizations, and leadership opportunities (United Nations n.p.).
Empowered women have the power to scrutinize their lives and those close to them and make decisions that will improve their livelihoods. Apart from accessing resources and opportunities that help build nations, empowered women have proved to be a vital prerequisite for economic growth in poverty-stricken regions (World Economic Forum 4). Further, empowered women have the chance to make important decisions that may affect their life without the influence of culture, tradition or law. Researchers conclude that women empowerment advocacy promotes transformation to a safer, positively competitive, and just society (World Economic Forum 4).
Measurement of women empowerment
The United Nations developed a Gender Empowerment Measure(GEM) to help analyze the status of gender equality in different countries. The GEM value is based on three main components that would determine the level of women empowerment in a nation. These three elements include the percentage of women in economic leadership, the representation of women in parliamentary seats, and the income level distribution in both genders. However, these are not the only measures that can be used to measure women empowerment. The WEF also includes factors such as literacy levels, the psychological well-being of women in the country, socio-cultural aspects, the legal empowerment that includes policies in the nation, and decision-making capabilities of the women (World Economic Forum 4). Additionally, another essential factor is whether there has been an approach to promote equal opportunity for both genders and the hindrances present in a nation’s constitution.
Role of United Nations and millennium goal of UN
The general assembly of the United Nations agrees that all its members should work on achieving the millennium development goals with the aim of improving the lives of everyone in the world. One of the primary targets is the promotion of gender equality and women empowerment which was set as goal number three. It focuses on promoting education for both genders, increase the number of women in legislative leadership around the world and grow the number of women in the workforce where men currently dominate. The organization also set up sustainable development goals that should be achieved in 2030 which include gender equality and poverty reduction. The United Nation’s influence is only limited to the agreements signed and declarations that should be adopted by the member states. Pakistan is a member of the United Nations, and the government should implement the recommendations approved by the organization. Although the country has taken several steps to implement the recommendations, a lot of work is yet to be done.
One of the countries where women face such challenges is Pakistan. A report by the World Economic Forum(WEF) ranks Pakistan as the second worst environment for women to live (World Economic Forum 9). Additionally, the United Nations ranks the country as having an abysmal gender Equality Index rating. Further, the women in the country have a low literacy rate. The Asian Development Bank states that since the conception of the country, the people have maintained some traditions that have led to the current status of division between the roles of women and men in the society. They further state that the women have been only left with reproductive roles and a few responsibilities that can only be limited to matters within the household whereas the man is delegated the productive role as the provider.
The country’s women have been faced with challenges such as economic discrimination, restriction in attaining an education, restriction in mobility, sexual abuses, the right to seek justice, early and arranged marriages, and institutionalized gender bias. Other problems that the women have been facing for a long time include the neglect of reproductive health needs and the lack of control over their bodies. These difficulties have been strongly linked to their cultural practices and traditions. The occurrence of these difficulties ignited the fight for changes that would progressively contribute to transforming the status of women in the country. Ovais (n.p.) concludes that although the country is still facing challenges, the actions of organizations such as the All Pakistani Women’s Association(APWA) and the Women’s Action Forum(WMA) have played an essential role in trying to make the environment better for women in the country.
Further, the actions of women leaders and feminist struggles have also made an impact the lives of the women in the country. Women such as Begum Ra’ana Liaquat Ali Khan are coveted for fighting against discrimination and advocated for women empowerment in the country (Ovais n.p.). She was part of the group that formed the women organizations in the 1980’s that have helped numerous women from oppression and sexual abuse. The actions of such women and organizations have been met with numerous complications due to the presence of an almost all male-dominated leadership in government. The activists have faced violence, and some have even faced jail time for trying to change the Pakistani traditions and cultural practices. The progress in women empowerment, although not satisfactory, has been influenced by the international community organizations such as the United Nations and the Human Rights Watch (Ovais n.p.).
Status of women
The Global Gender Gap report doe by the WEF ranks Pakistan as the 143rd country out of 145. The state still lags behind in education behind ranked the 135th nation in rankings on access to education. These ranking occur in the backdrop of the country’s constitution providing for equal rights in perusing economic opportunities regardless of sex. The report on Women’s Economic Participation and Empowerment 2016 in Pakistan completed by the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women- Pakistan (UN Women-Pakistan) states that the women are socially vulnerable due to barriers that hinder various freedoms. These freedoms include seeking employment, equal pay, and economic empowerment through entrepreneurship (United Nations Women 2).
The study found out that the ratio remains low in young girls’ enrollment to school for those aged between 6 and ten years. Approximately 40% of the girls are not enrolled in school at this age whereas 30% of boys are not enrolled in the same age group entrepreneurship (United Nations Women 2). For the ages of children who should be attending middle school, an alarming 70% of the girls between the ages of 11 to 13 years are not enrolled whereas 60% of the boys were not enrolled (United Nations Women 2). The figures show a deplorable state of education in the country for girls and boys aged between 14 and 15 where 80% and 70% respectively are not enrolled in school entrepreneurship (United Nations Women 3). The lack of access to education among the girls makes them susceptible to undergo forced and early marriages as a way of salvaging their economic situation. Although the country’s education system requires an injection of funds to boost access for all genders, social norms strongly influence the fate of the children. This is observed in the government spending on education where only 2.2% of the gross national product is directed to education entrepreneurship (United Nations Women 2).
The access to economic stimulants such as entrepreneurship capital, loans, and other financial services is still deficient among the women. The access to finance is a mere 5% among women and 21% for the men above 15 years. Even with the actions of the NGO’s that focus on women in the country providing microfinance opportunities exclusively to women, only 13% of the women in the country can access loans in similar organizations entrepreneurship (United Nations Women 2). The government initiated a program that allows its citizens to obtain loans that may help reduce the poverty rates through agricultural activities. The women comprise only 4% of those that access such supportive financial services. It would be impossible for the women in the country to transform the current status without the support of such financial services. Supporting the women in the country who comprise 51% of the population would significantly improve the economic status of the country (Bugvi 24). The notion is supported by the WEF who state that women would spend more on educating their children and alleviating poverty compared to their male counterparts in the country.
The status of employment in women has improved in the past decade. However, there is the need to promote strategies that would help increase the number of women in the workforce. The study by the UN Women-Pakistan states that only 16% of the women between the ages of 15 and 64 are employed entrepreneurship (United Nations Women 3). An interesting observation in Pakistan is that there is more employment for women in the rural areas than in the urban areas.However, it is assumed that the literacy levels are higher in the urban areas. The reason for this unique occurrence is the nature of the jobs available in urban areas where the social constructs promote employment segregation (Moore 113). The women have highest numbers in agricultural labor force comprising of 36% and only 20% in the manufacturing industry. Consequently, a substantial number of the women work from home amounting to 30% of all women in employment while the numbers are at 8% for their male counterparts (United Nations Women 3)
The trend is also similar in the way the women are remunerated. The report by the Un Women-Pakistan (4) concludes that 30% of the females who graduate from university earn a monthly salary below the minimum wage. Only 10% of their male counterparts earn below this limit. The trend indicates a disparity regarding employment by various institutions. The gender wage gap is also a matter of concern where the men earn more than women in the same jobs. For example, in an essential field such as education, the female teachers earn only 60% of what their male counterparts are paid (United Nations Women 4). Also, in the engineering field that demand highly skilled and educated individuals, the women earn 90% of what the men earn for similar jobs (United Nations Women 3). The statistics show a clear practice of gender discrimination in the remuneration sector. There is a lot of reforms that should be implemented that will ensure there is equal pay across gender for individuals in similar competency levels in the country. Remuneration appropriately done would also be essential in promoting motivation among the young people in pursuing specific careers.
The social status of the women is also in an imperfect position. Bhattacharya (186) states that the biggest problem in the society is the element of patriarchy in the country. The practice is actively practiced in the entire country where the women are disregarded in the society. The factor of patriarchy also contributes to the high rate of violence against women in the Pakistani society. Additionally, the opinions of women in important dockets in the government may be disregarded due to the same element. Bhattacharya (186) also states that the same notion is responsible for the perception among the Pakistani population that the man is the only provider. Further, the same idea of patriarchy in the Pakistani society with strong influence from their traditions makes it difficult for the women to own essential economic requirements such as land and businesses. Women empowerment programs should focus on addressing such strong beliefs and debunk such myths to ensure that the women are in the forefront of poverty reduction in the country.
Another essential factor that depicts oppression among women in the Pakistani society is the justice system in the society. Although the government has implemented several laws in the past few decades to address the injustice against women in the country, the implementation has been weak owing to the strong influence of the social construct in the society (Bhattacharya 186). The government introduced notable laws such as Protection of Women Act in 2006, the Prevention of Anti-Women Act passed in 2011, and the Domestic Violence Act in 2012 (Bhattacharya 185). Unfortunately, very few women get to use these laws against criminals that break them owing to fear and oppression from others. The lack of an efficient way of implementing the rules and reporting the related cases has proved to be a challenge in the country. The police force which is mostly composed of men also plays a vital role in the injustice experienced by the women in the country. The social constructs may permit the men law enforcement officers to disregards the reports and opinions of the women.
The past twenty years have observed some significant progress in the improvement of the lives of women in the country. Firstly, the government has implemented laws that aim at addressing the gender-based violence, traditional practices that seem to oppress women, and policies that seek to offer more protection to women in the society. It is important to identify that the existence of these changes in policy has been influenced by the actions of women leaders, non-governmental organizations and the international community due to the resistance from the government. Patel (63) illustrates that the government still lacks an efficient method of implementing these policies. The government has also done very little in addressing the challenge experienced by women who wish to participate in economic activities such as entrepreneurship and agriculture (Salman 44). The government has also done very little on implementing policies that promote access to financial services vital to sparking economic growth.
The country still lags behind in the percentage of women in leadership in different fields such as business and politics. A study by the International Labor Organizations in 2015 concludes that only 3% of women in Pakistan occupy managerial roles in the country (Dawn n.p.). Further, the number of female legislators in the country has increased to about 13% which is the number of seats reserved for female legislators (Dawn n.p.). The women in the legislature have taken part in capacity building and policy-making that encourages women empowerment in the country. Mehboob (n.p) states that the few women in the legislator have outperformed their male counterparts. The main reason for a difference in performances is linked to the experience of living as a woman in Pakistan where the women suffer more than their male counterparts. However, the majority of the men in the legislature may overturn recommendations proposed by the female legislators that seek to transform the Pakistani society significantly.
One of the main recommendations should be the inclusion of women in decision making bodies in the country. These bodies include the boards of government agencies, ministries, government-owned enterprises, and also in large corporations that serve many people. It also includes allowing policies to guarantee the participation of women in politics without harassment from anyone in the society. The aim is to ensure that the women have the opportunity to make decisions that will empower women in different fields. The government should develop leadership programs for young men and women from a young age to help them transform the poor standards of living in Pakistan.
Secondly, the government should take charge of availing the economic stimulant to women in the country. One of the stimulants is access to financial services. The current trend in the increase in online financial services should enable the government increases the accesses to financial services. Additionally, the government should offer grants for entrepreneurial ventures for women, especially in the rural areas. Such approaches aim to increase the number of opportunities for women to become financially independent (Ahmad et al. 137). The government may partner with financial institutions and find a method of reducing the interest rates on loans at the same time markedly increasing the access of these loans to women in the country. Increased financial stability would help tackle other challenges such as education, nutrition, and economic dependency.
Thirdly, the government should ultimately transform the education sector in the country. The funding of the education sector should be significantly increased to help realize the goal of providing adequate training for the women in the country. The government should ensure that there are sufficient funds to allow the implementation of free education of the children below the tertiary level (Weiss 51). Also, the government should also set aside funds for the development of programs that promote technical skills acquisition for those who are unable to access formal education. Such an approach would ensure that the young people in the country, including the women, would have the ability to earn a living and transmute their lives.
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BIBLIOGRAPHY United Nations Women. Women’s Economic Participation and Empowerment- Status Report summary. Pakistan: United Nations, 2016. Print.
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