Arshad, New Age Islam
Gender Gap Report Lays Bare Women's Marginalisation In Pakistan's Muslim Society
fares poorly on Gender Gap closure.
ranks 145th on the list of 146 countries.
women are backward in health, economic participation, political empowerment and
3. Pakistan is
better than only Afghanistan.
4. A powerful
and long lasting feminist movement is needed in Pakistan.
Economic Forum has released its Global Gender Gap report 2022. The WEF has
studied the health, economic participation, political empowerment and
educational progress of women of 146 countries and released its findings. While
countries of Europe, America, and Asia have fared well, the countries of South
Asia, particularly, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Qatar have been placed at the
bottom of the list. Afghanistan is the last, that is, the 146th country while
Pakistan is 145th.
shows that Pakistani and Afghan women are the worst victim of gender bias
though both the countries boast of following the Islamic model of governance
and Islamic principles of equality and policy of women empowerment. The report
shows that the enrolment of girls in schools is very low in Pakistan. Since the
women in Pakistan are educationally backward, they lag behind in every field of
life. Therefore, only 4.5 % women in Pakistan are placed in managerial
positions compared to 70% of Togo and 56 % of Jamaica. Due to the educational
of Pakistani women, they also lag behind in political empowerment. They are not
aware of their political rights and have not been able to obtain requisite
political representation to influence the political process for their
development and empowerment. The worst, in some tribal belts of Pakistan, the
women are not even allowed to vote in elections though they have been granted
the right to vote. They do not have a say in the collective or communal affairs
of the Pakistani or Afghan women is due to the absence of a powerful feminist
movement in their respective countries. The remarkable strides the women of
Europe, America or some African and Asian countries have made is due to the
presence of a continuous feminist movement and discourse in political,
economic, social and literary arena. In the 19th century,
of Europe launched the feminist movement for women suffrage and the movement
included social, economic and political rights of women. It also attempted to
remove age old perception of women itched in the mind of men. For example, the
great English poet Wordsworth was of the view that the best thought and
writings were a gift of men and only those constituted the best literature.
This was the common view about women in the East and the West till the 19th
century. Edmund Burke had written a book Vindication of the Rights of Men
demonstrating this superiority of men over women. But Mary Wollstonecraft
decided to counter the male chauvinism and wrote a book titled Vindication of
the rights of women. This book set the stage for the feminist movement in the
West. In 1928, English writer Virginia Woolfe wrote a book 'A Room of One's
Own' to assert the rights of women to equality and to demand an end to the
discrimination against women in all the fields of life. This movement known as
feminism became very popular in the West in the 20th century. Many feminist
writers, intellectuals, activists and ideologues took the movement forward and
the movement got a wide support of women worldwide. Thanks to the unending
struggle of the western women, today the women in the west have progressed in
every field be it science, or economics, arts or business.
feminist movement, though spread to the Indian sub-continent, it did not have
the desired impact so as to make a tangible change in the individual or
communal life of women, particularly the women of the Muslim society. In Muslim
society of India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, the general refrain is that the Muslim
society does not need a feminist movement because Islam has already granted
women equality and the right to a dignified life. Ironically, this is not the
view of the conservative Ulema but also of some self proclaimed liberal
thinkers and writers among the Muslims. For example, the renowned fiction
writer and novelist of Urdu, Qurratul Ayn Haider said that she did not believe
in a ladies compartment in literature. Another female fiction writer of Urdu
Tarannum Riaz also said that feminism as a theory or ideology was not needed in
the East because the East has already granted them equality and dignity.
of the women in Pakistan, India, Azerbaijan, India, Qatar and Egypt as
reflected in the Global Gender Gap report refutes their claim. Islam has indeed
given women right to equality and has advocated women empowerment through
education and their participation in economic and political development, but
due to a conservative interpretation of Islamic theology, a biased narrative
about women was propagated. Women were said to be naqisul Aql (mentally
inferior) and bearing corruptive influence on men. Therefore, they needed to be
kept away from men within the confines of the four walls. For this reason, they
were denied participation in arts and literature. Muslim women were not allowed
to be writers or poets. Those who wrote, their writings were published without
their names, often with the name of their husband i.e. Mosammat Munir Baig or
just under the abbreviation A. R. Khatoon.
thanks to the feminist struggle of some feminists in the sub-continent for the
last one century, some changes in the mindset of Muslims could be brought about
but still the Muslim women in the sub-continent have lagged behind the western
women due to the wrong perception of a large section of men of the Muslim
society. In Pakistan, the gender gap is wider and in Afghanistan, the ascent of
Taliban has wielded a hard blow to the stride women had made before. As a
whole, the absence of a feminist discourse in Muslim society is at the root of
the educational and economic backwardness of Muslim women.
Arshad is a columnist with NewAgeIslam.com.
Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in
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