Gender Disparities In Pakistan: Unmasking The Democratic Delusion


Recognition of womens’ dignity, health, education, work, and political inclusion are some of the prerequisite actions for gender equality, however, despite of such acceptance, women either at work or domestic life face mental, physical and emotional harassment by working colleagues, life partners and blood relations. Even the worst is that all this shameful is conceived and dealt as normal routine of life a personal, family or tribal matter.

Tackling all these humiliations and out dated norms, being best fascinating part of democracy, gender equality not only ensures the survival & dignity of women, perhaps it also adheres all the women rights as human rights & towards the attainment of gender justice, nations of the world came up with the Elimination All forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) & indeed, Pakistan is one of the signatory to ensure the gender justice across all the sections of society.
Unfortunately, contrary to this promised right of eliminating gender based discriminations; the recent report of World Economic Forum (WEF) on ‘Global Gender Gap 2016’ ranks Pakistan at 143 the ‘Second Worst’ country on gender inequality among the worlds’ 144 countries followed by Yemen. And the million dollar questions is, could this be justifiable with Pakistan’s narrative on the struggle of meeting Millennium Development Goals 2030?

Tracing out the headways of men and women equality, the report has focused on the areas of educational advancement, health and survival, economic opportunities as well as political empowerment, and since its first report on ‘Global Gender Gap – 2006’ of the WEF, compared to other South Asian Countries, Pakistan was ranked on 112, and since then it constantly declined year by year from 135th in 2013, 141st in 2014 and 143rd in 2015.

The major contribution in gender equality gap is deeply rooted in patriarchal values, with the connotations of family, tribal, feudal as well as the religious fundamentalist support. Even though during our routine life – merely on outdated conventional & faith based justifications girls education is still supposed as defame & most of us have been very reluctant to talk about women rights/ emancipation & we deliberately turned blind eye over the menace of gender based imparities and this has distorted the fabric of family canvas of Pakistani society.

And what else the disgrace would be in a state or country where so called Jirgas decide the fate of innocent (minor) girls given as – a fine called wani (forced to marriage in rival family) against the decision of any clash between two families, clans or tribes. Dealing with such menaces, despite of women protection laws, either national or international, government institutions seems to be helpless and dysfunctional before feudal control, patriarchal mindset, tribal customs & religious extremists.

As policy making institutions are driven by feudal lords who control the authorities, their sustainability is also linked with tribal, religious and patriarchal systems. Thriving on the struggle of womens’ emancipation, the fight of some women human rights activists accompanied with lawyers and few politicians had made some daunting change; perhaps it needs wider societal recognition.

There is no doubt that the WEF report on Pakistans’ state of gender imparities has also unmasked the countries’ democratic delusion towards the protection of human rights as well as gender development rhetoric, and the issues must be addressed with effective enforcement of laws by government machinery with active support and collaboration of civil society, academia, media and human rights defenders.

Irshad Soomro is a Pakistani Human Rights activist. Email: [email protected]

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