Pakistan's Women Development Issues
Background & Objectives
Talking about women brings to mind grave injustices perpetuated upon them throughout history. Even in the present so called modern times except for a few countries we live in a male dominated world. Women in general have been subjected to all kinds of sufferings, inequities, injustices, oppression and harassments. Though being more or less equal in number with men they always remained the weaker section of the society which is now identified with their sex and this continues for a great majority of women even in these modern times.
Women reared the next generation of a population and no society could be healthy, progressive or at peace with it self which neglects this crucial half of its population lesser in dignity and in rights. Women play a critical but unacknowledged roll at every level of nation building and recognizing this contribution in a more visible and rewarding way is a prerequisite for a vibrant democratic culture and of respects of human rights.
Islam And The Women
Islam and the constitution both guarantee equality for all people including equality of sexes. Wide spread misconception and distortion exists not only in west but even among our intelligentsia about the high place and status that Islam accords to women, including the rights to property, work, wages, choice of spouse, to divorce, to education and to participation in economic, social and political activities.
Quaid-E-Azam And The Women
Pakistan was created as a homeland for the Muslims of the Indian sub-continent freed of the discrimination and deprivation they have suffered in the past. The founding fathers including Quaid-e-Azam wished that all citizens specially women were not derived of their rightful status. The Quaid had unequivocally stated, “It is a crime against humanity that all women are confined within the four walls of their homes like prisoners. They should stand side by side with men as their companions and in all spheres of life”.
Women In Pakistan
Situation with regard to women’s concern is very bleak. They continue to suffer and face oppressive patriarchal structures, rigid orthodox, nonflexible and stifling social culture customs and traditions.
Gender disparities in Pakistan are severe and pervasive. Pakistan ranks the lowest in relation to gender related development index and gender empowerment measures. Deeply rooted culture and institutional constraints prevent Pakistani Women from playing an active role in the development of their society and further restrictions is made under the guise of cultural and religious values.
Institutionalized violence against women allows crime of ‘passion’ and ‘ honor ‘ to go and unpunished while gender discriminatory legislation violates the human rights of Pakistani women. Excluded from decision-making at national, provincial, community and household level they are less educated than man and their access to employment and income generating activities is limited. With constant motherhood their nutrition and health standards are lower than their male counterparts with lower life expectancy and higher maternal mortality rates.
Development And Women
‘Development’, qualifies primarily processes of social or economic change, if that change is considered positive it can be described as development, otherwise not.
Development is about much more than the rise and fall of national income. It is about creating an environment in which people can develop their full potentials and lead productive, creative lives in accord with their needs and interests. People are the real wealth of nations. Development shares a common vision with human rights, mutually reinforcing, helping to serve the well being and dignity of all people, building self respect and respect for others.
Sustained national development and progress will only occur if serious thought is given to major women issues including the provision of equity and non discrimination in all expects of women life. Focus has to be made to effectively target low income women to economic independence. Women is the motherhood of the nation and as such should be strong, aware and alert.
Women contribute to half of the country’s population and it is abundantly clear that can be no development unless their needs and the interests are fully taken into account. It is a role and responsibility of the state and the society to give due intension and priority to the needs and aspirations of the women of Pakistan and take up critical challenges in a positive manners.
Women concerns needing urgent attention include:
- An integrated approach including improvement of their educational and health needs.
- Removing gender discrimination.
- Providing opportunities for training in new technologies and market based needs.
- Improving and extending nutrition, hygiene and sanitation to the poor urban and rural women.
- Provision of reproductive and maternal health care facilities.
- Increasing awareness about family planning by media including incentives for small families.
- Provision of low cost housing and day care centers for low income working women.
- Public transport and public toilets to facilitate working women.
- Lastly efforts towards enhancements of employment opportunities for women in general.
The quality of social progress of a society or a nation should be judged by absence of grinding and wide spread poverty, elimination of violence and conflict associated with injustice and deep inequity and are not limited only to literacy, education, health or expenditure on social services alone. Economic growth while important, no longer guarantees poverty elevation or employment generation.
The success and failure of individuals of and nation’s depends on
whether they can wisely develop their human resources.
Efforts to promote gender equality, equity, and empowerment as part of people centered sustainable development with equality between men and women in fundamental rights will lead to social justice and human development which will be further sustained through participation and partnership between both women and the men in all spheres including particular economic and social life at all levels.
No community or nation is an Island any more and Pakistan cannot remain unwashed by these rising global currents. Its need to address its domestic women issues in ways that are in some harmonies with the international perceptive and universally accepted norms. If it does not do it now, it will compel to do it later, after much damage.
Nations which of to drag their feet in bringing critical issues onto the national agenda do they repairable damage to nation building. It is a time to take action and give women their long due and well deserved priority.