Gender gap, still a dilemma!
The constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan gives equal rights to both men and women. However, in practice men are more equal than women. The reality gives a picture where women rarely appear in positions of power.
It’s the same with all sorts of discrimination, whether it’s of a sexual orientation or whatever, if discrimination means people not pursing individuals aspirations to the full, the economy loses out on a lot of talent.
According to the World Economic Forum, women’s pay still lags nearly a decade behind, meaning that what they are paid now on average is the equivalent of what men were paid in 2006. The global gap between men and women was closed by 3 percent over the past decade. Moreover, it is estimated that it will take around 118 years before women around the world can expect equal pay.
It is incredibly shameful though not all surprising that the least equitable are Syria, Pakistan and Yemen, which rank 143rd, 144th and 145th respectively and making them worst, according to the latest report.
The typical subjugated image of Pakistani women mirrors the centuries old patriarchy in the sub-continent and legacy of the military regimes in the country. Empowerment and emancipation, though documented in the official reports, is yet a dream for the majority of Pakistani women. Even the first Prime Minister of the Muslim World, could not bring any dramatic change for women.
Considering the diversity of Pakistani society, female empowerment has different meanings for women from different strata. Her status is always lower than the male partner. She is underprivileged in getting education, food, health care and freedom of choice of partner, number of children and other essentials.
Like many other legitimate and logical issues, gender issues are an untapped area of research and occupy no position in the policy and snatch no place in the planning process. Consequently the human predicament is presenting a sorrow picture for those who love this land.
Now, the need of hour is to define, interpret and apply gender in its pure context. Pakistan needs to have legal reforms immediately to give women equal rights in the land ownership, inheritance and access to credit along with maximum affordable childcare and parental leave, with better protections for low wage and part time workers.
Meanwhile corporations and businesses can set targets to recruit and promote women, introduce mentorship programs and establish transparent salary bands to reduce gender pay gaps.
Only then we would be able to reduce the loss in the vital areas of national development named as education, economy and health. Converting the gaps in such areas would take us a nation on the path of development. That development would not be reflected in the stock exchange only but in a society marked by gender harmony, sensitivity and human dignity.