Thursday May 30, 2024

UN ranks Pakistan 147th on Human Development Index

By Jamila Achakzai
March 23, 2017

Islamabad: Pakistan is ranked a lowly 147 among the 188 countries surveyed for human development, a new UN report said, bracketing it alongside South Asian neighbours, including India, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal.

The country has made no improvement in its ranking over the previous year though its Human Development Index rank in 2014 was 148. According to the latest annual report of the UN Development Programme i.e. Human Development Report 2016, 63 per cent Pakistanis were 'satisfied' with their standard of living in 2014-15.

The ranking put Pakistan it in the 'medium human development' bracket, which also includes India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Kenya, Myanmar and Nepal. Pakistan's HDI rank value in 2015 stood at 0.550, which had increased from 0.525 in 2010. It was 0.45 in 2000 and 0.404 in 1990.

Its life expectancy at birth stood at 66.4 years in 2015 and the Gross National Income (GNI) per capita $5,031. The report said on the perception of feeling safe, 58 per cent answered 'yes', while on freedom of choice, 59 per cent women respondents answered they were 'satisfied' compared to 58 per cent for men.

Pakistan's score for overall life satisfaction was 4.8 on a scale of 1-10. On the perceptions about government, only 46 per cent said they had trust in the national government for the 2014-15 period, while 59 per cent said they had confidence in the judicial system.

Poiting out gender-based inequalities in South Asian households, the report said women in the region were often excluded from decisionmaking, had limited access to and control over resources, were restricted in their mobility and are often under threat of violence from male relatives.

"These deprivations are linked strongly to patriarchal social norms and attitudes that impede equitable gender relationships within households. They have consequences for health, education and community participation." The report added that discriminationat each stage of the female lifecycle contributed to health disparities—from sexselective abortions (particularly common in Pakistan and India) to lower nutrition intake and the neglect of health care among girls and women.

"A girl between her first and fifth birthdays in Pakistan or India has a 30–50 percent greater chance of dying than a boy," it said, adding that the maternal mortality ratio in South Asia is also stubbornly high, second only to that in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The report called for legislation to promot gender equality for women in the country. Declaring acid attacks against women a heinous form of violence common in communities where patriarchal gender orders are used to justify violence against women, the report said in the last 15 years, more than 3,300 acid-throwing attacks had been recorded  in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Colombia, Uganda and the United

Kingdom though the true number was likely much higher as many cases went unrecorded. It added that 5,000 women were killed worldwide every year in the name of 'honour killings'.

Pointing out wide disparities in quality between public and private education services in many developing countries, the report said a recent review of 21 studies in Pakistan, Ghana, India, Kenya, Nepal and Nigeria found that students in private schools tended to achieve better learning outcomes than do students in state schools.

"Teaching is also often better in private schools than in state schools for example in Pakistan, India, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Tanzania." The report called for far greater attention to empowering the most marginalised in society, and recognised the importance of giving them greater voice in decision-making processes.

It also called for a more refined analysis to inform actions, including making a shift toward assessing progress in such areas as participation and autonomy saying key data, disaggregated for characteristics such as place, gender, socioeconomic status and ethnicity is vital to know who is being left behind.

The report’s lead author and director of the Human Development Report Office, Selim Jahan, said despite progress gaps, universal human development was attainable. “Over the last decades, we have witnessed achievements in human development that were once thought impossible.”

Since 1990, one billion people have escaped extreme poverty, and women’s empowerment has become a mainstream issue: while as recently as the 1990s, very few countries legally protected women from domestic violence, today, 127 countries do.

The report stressed the importance of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to build on these gains, noting that the agenda and human development approach are mutually reinforcing.

It included recommendations to reorient policies to ensure progress reaches those furthest behind, and urged reforms of global markets and global institutions to make them more equitable and representative.