Sunday April 21, 2024

‘Around 48pc of young women not in education’

By Myra Imran
July 28, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Around 48 per cent of young women aged 15-24 are not in education, employment or training as compared to 7 per cent men. Less than 2 per cent young women own physical assets. Of all young women (married or unmarried), only 3 per cent own agricultural land and 2 per cent own a house.

The findings make part of the research report titled ‘Young Women in Pakistan: Status Report 2020’ released virtually by UN Women and National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW) on Monday. The report was supported by Royal Norwegian Embassy in Pakistan. Center of Gender and Policy Studies (CGaPS) provided technical support in conducting research and compiling the report. The report seeks to address knowledge gaps by identifying needs, priorities and action for empowerment of young women, and support advocacy for increased investment in young women. It looks at the status of young women in Pakistan and shows how strategic investment will accelerate progress and actions to empower them. Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Youth Affairs Usman Dar was the chief guest on the occasion.

On decision making and empowerment, the report says that 24 per cent young women made decisions about their education and employment, only 1 per cent could decide on their marriage alone, while 16 per cent are being consulted by the family. One fourth of young women need permission to seek healthcare, while another 71 per cent do not want to visit a health facility alone. Less than one-third can decide about purchasing food and clothing. 49 per cent of ever married employed women reported control over their cash earning, while only 9 per cent have a say in how earning of spouse is used.

It says that 29 per cent young women experience controlling behaviors by husbands, while 44 per cent of young married women and men see no harm in wife beating. 15 per cent of young women experienced physical and 4 per cent experienced sexual non-spousal violence, while 14 per cent of currently married young women reported physical and 4 per cent reported sexual spousal violence in last 12 months.

Only 23 per cent survivors sought help and 16 percent just informed close friend or family but did not seek help. 3 per cent of survivors informed the police, lawyer or other help mechanisms. The report highlights alarming figures on child marriage. Overall more than one-fourth (28 per cent) irls are married before 18 years of age. 16 percent of the young women became mothers before the age of 18 years.

“Empowering young women is key to Pakistan’s sustainable social and economic development," said SAPM Usman Dar while addressing at the virtual launch of the report. He said that the report is a great initiative for all of us to understand the challenges young women face and seek advice for informed policies and actions to address those challenges.

Senior Researcher and Activist and former Chair NCSW Khawar Mumtaz said that female youth in Pakistan has not received much policy attention and as citizens of tomorrow merit due place in policy discourse — a nation cannot hope to achieve its objectives by leaving large segment of its population behind. This report seeks to see where the issues are, as we need to have an analysis of issues first to find befitting solutions and develop frameworks to ensure young women unleash their full potential.”

Secretary NCSW Humera Azam Khan, said, “It is indeed a quintessential research report relevant to the present-day context, analytical in profile and insightful in its recommendations.”

Earlier, Aisha Mukhtar, Country Representative UN Women Pakistan, in her opening remarks, said that Pakistan is a country with a youthful demographic profile. As a signatory to several international gender equality commitments including CEDAW and SDGs, Pakistan has a huge opportunity as well as an obligation to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment agenda and for that targeted investment in young women is critical to fully capitalize on Pakistan’s youth bulge. “In a world where youth leadership and activism are gaining importance, UN Women’s Generation Equality campaign provides a unique opportunity to youth activists and advocates in promoting a gender equal world,” Aisha Mukhtar said.

The report findings suggest that there is overall limited access to knowledge and skill development opportunities for youth, especially young women. Youth concerns have not been translated into comprehensive policies as most of the policies are gender blind, lacking a clear strategy to address various issues around equal economic opportunities, social development, and political participation.

The report recommends integration of sectoral policies and programmes and removal of barriers in implementation of laws and policies on women rights; recognition and registration of agricultural workers, daily wagers and domestic workers, home based workers and self-employed females; inclusion of women’s productive and reproductive work in labour force statistics; to ensure higher completion rates for secondary and tertiary education; support girls and women to acquire non-conventional skills; focus on STEM fields; 33 percent women’s seats in local government to promote entry of young leadership from the grassroots; 33 percent women on all public and private sector boards and women’s quotas; and recognition of women 18 years and above as adults with full citizenship rights.