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Islamabad

September 6, 2018

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Pak Woman — victim of discriminatory politics

I have been watching the role of woman in Pak politics since long and I have made my strong observation that our system as converted majority of women into minority in terms of her presence and participation in all walks of life in our country.

Looking into the politics of Pakistan, I hardly see equal chances of politics for Pakistani women here. The Pakistani politics duly controlled by male domineering power does not allow the women to come forward in politics without their wishes especially at mid level politics.

The women have limited chances in politics in our country because of their vulnerabilities to harassment and insecurity throughout their education and then career (if ever she is allowed to pursue her career). The vulnerabilities then become a source of discouragement and resultantly more than 80% of well qualified and eligible women who are able to play active role for their country are either forced to get married early or sit back at home. They find themselves as being handicapped to demonstrate their abilities. Their ambitions are forced to be frustrated through our so-called social customs and these prevailing customs kill not only the talent but the high ambitions as well. Those who somehow manage to break the traditions or are compelled to step out of the house for various reasons, start working and unfortunately become the victim at the work place because of the male dominated society culture that considers it their right to harass a female worker around him and would like female worker to act on the tune set by him because he is male boss.

Thousands of women are harassed every day in every part of the country at their respective workplace, but a very few of them dare to raise their voices. Earlier this year a survey including 300 sexually harassed women at their respective workplace was conducted; a significant 35pc said they were told to remain silent by their colleagues and bosses. Many left their jobs and only 17 percent of those who experienced harassment went to their organisation’s internal inquiry committees with their complaints and 59 percent reported that their management does take harassment seriously.

Let us see at all our workingwomen force.

Women employment rate in Pakistan is the lowest in the world standing at 4.5 percent. Around 65% of female doctors in Pakistan are not allowed to work after marriage. 80% of business graduates sit at home after marriage and less than 10 percent of educated and uneducated women are entrepreneurs.

Similarly, in Federal Government of Pakistan, only 4.6% employees (all grades 1-22) are women. However, around 28.5 per cent of all entry-level officers serving in the public administration sector are women. In the overall Civil Superior Services (CSS) examinations for 2017, out of 261 candidates recommended for postings, 106 were women for 17th grade.

We need to examine the direct and indirect input of women in our society. Similarly we need to look at the number of females in our political departments and see why the woman are kept away from politics except for those fearless souls who manage to make their place in politics.

Women in political fabric of our country hold only 21% of parliamentary seats and are not able to break the glass ceiling of the government. It is mandatory for political parties to hold 5% tickets for women in their party but they manage to keep women aside by nominating them for hard to win seats. In 2018 general elections, among 107 political parties enlisted with the ECP, 94 participated in the elections. These parties fielded 5,768 candidates out of which there were only 305 female candidates, which meant that 44 contesting parties did not field even a single female candidate despite mandatory law provision.

In National Assembly, out of 272 seats, only 60 are reserved for women and the Senate of Pakistan reserves 18 out 104 seats for women. Similarly at provincial level, Punjab Assembly reserves 66 seats for women out of 297 seats, Sindh Assembly 29 out of 130 for women, Balochistan Assembly reserves 11 seats for women out of 51 general seats and KPK Assembly holds 22 seats for women out of 99 regular seats.

Empowering women and ensuring better equal rights are probably among the most efficient things any country can do to develop society. To put it bluntly, a society that does not encourage women to contribute to all sectors of life to the fullest extent of their abilities is like a person trying to run a marathon, but using only one leg.

Women make up half of society; and it should be self-evident that society would develop better and faster if everyone works together rather than if half the population is relegated to the kitchen. Experience, case studies and surveys have always proven that countries progress fast where women are educated and receive equal treatment as men. Women’s economic empowerment is key to growth of our country’s economy and could boost Pakistan’s GDP by 30%.

These are some of the points to make women empower at workplace. A) Supporting full implementation of Security and make places safer for them to work.

B) Gender equality workshops and events should be organised and conducted in which women can actively participate. It is unfortunate that the majority of population in our country is of women yet this “majority” simply has been converted into minority. C) Government must address issues of women harassment at work place and sort them out in time so that they can work comfortably. D) Women entrepreneurs must be promoted by building partnerships with them to maximise impact on gender priorities by making them part of meetings and valuing the views of them. E) Pakistan’s depleting economy can be transformed by making them aware of importance of education, being sensitive towards their health problems, ensuring equal job opportunities and respecting their rights. F) The new government must make laws for provision of security and rights to women at workplaces so that they can work freely without any kind of pressure.

I would like to conclude by saying that more participation of woman in all the economic departments would make Pakistan more prosperous. The services of our woman force are not properly being used towards contributing to our national growth and male domineering society has turned the majority workforce/population to a minority force. We need to revisit it.

The writer is chairman of think tank "global eye" & former interior minister of Pakistan. @Email: [email protected], Twitter @Senrehmanmalik, @GlobalEye_GSA, WhatsApp +923325559393

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