Every year, International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8 to mark the equal status of women. The theme of this year’s IWD is: ‘I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights’.
In Pakistan, events are organised at private and public sector levels to promote gender equality. According to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, the male population stands at 106,449,322 while the female population is 101,314,780 in the sixth census of Pakistan. The female population makes 48.8 percent of the total population. Pakistan is also taking various steps to ensure gender equality in various fields.
The country’s female population needs to be brought in the mainstream so that Pakistan can benefit from this huge human resource.Pakistan is a signatory to many international conventions to ensure gender equality, especially the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
Pakistan is also a signatory to the Beijing Declaration which demands gender parity in all its programmes at the national, regional and international levels. Pakistan has also declared the Sustainable Development Goals as its national goals through a unanimous resolution in parliament; goal number five specifically targets gender equality.
To ensure fulfilment of its commitment, the government of Pakistan has taken various steps to ensure women rights and gender parity. There are 60 reserved seats for women in parliament and a 10 percent quota in the civil services of Pakistan. The provincial disaster management authorities have gender and child cells to protect the vulnerable population in time of emergencies. The Benazir Income Support Programme is trying to pull poverty-stricken women in far-off areas out of the poverty trap.
Pakistan has harassment at the workplace and domestic violence laws to curb discrimination against women. The country has inheritance laws which provide an adequate share to women in property. The government is also working on revised maternity rules to ensure a healthy life to women and children.
Besides all these positive initiatives taken by government, there are certain gaps which need to be focused on. A huge portion of the economy is undocumented and running parallel to the documented economy where we can find a gender gap in wages.
According to the ‘Global Wage Report 2018-19: What Lies Behind Gender Pay Gap’, the gender pay gap for Pakistan was identified to be 34 pe cent, which is more than double the global average. A large number of women in Pakistan are associated with the agriculture sector without any defined wage structure.
Though, we have laws which help fight against domestic violence, at some places, cultural and traditional norms prohibit women from raising their voice against such violence.
The poverty index is also directly related to gender discrimination in the education sector. Poor families hardly manage their bread and butter and can’t afford to send girls to school. Please note that the constitution of Pakistan through Article 25A obliges the state to provide free and compulsory education to all children between the ages of five and 16 years.
These are certain areas we need to focus on while celebrating International Women’s Day this year in Pakistan
The writer is agraduate of the
University of Oxford.
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