By Murtaza Talpur
March 07, 2019
International Women’s Day is just around the corner – March 8 to celebrate social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women. On the day around the world, there will be conferences, seminars, workshops, theatres, plays and reports launch events in a series on ‘better for balance’ – this year’s theme of the day.
For some days before and after the IWD event, there will also be hype on print, electronic and social media. There will be lots of commotion and fuss around the globe regarding gender inequality. The day will be celebrated and enjoyed by those who don’t really know what gender inequality really means?
Around the world – in offices, public places, homes, schools, colleges on the roads and in the buses, and everywhere women and girls will sexually be assaulted, face gender based violence, abducted, raped and killed in the name of honour by those who on that particular day will ecstatically scream for gender equality.
There is no doubt that humans themselves are the enemy of their existence in the society. Because they just don’t bother to act on their words. We humans quickly forget what happens the day after yesterday. Apart from our dishonesty and treachery, there is a lack of will to truly implement policies and ordinances by the states and governments in the world, which are responsible to protect and take care of all their citizens.
Pakistan is one of the worst countries for women to live in which can be seen in brutal rapes and cases like the killing of seven year old Zainab, ruthless murder of innocent Ramsha Wassan, domestic violence on girls like Tayyaba, Uzma and many more. Besides, the delay in justice for Asia Bibi robbed her of ten years of her life, and the model Qandeel Baloch was killed in the name of honour; such atrocious cases happen on a regular basis in the country but are unreported.
According to Thomson Reuters Foundation, Pakistan is ranked 6th most unsafe country for women. Human Rights Watch report has highlighted how every year 1100 women are killed in the name of honour in Pakistan. In addition to this, in the last couple of years, dozens of women have been killed in the name of honour but were declared as suicide cases and thousands of gender based domestic violence cases went unreported
Looking at the conditions for women, the country has agreed to several key international commitments on gender equality and women’s human rights such as Beijing Platform for Action, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women, and the Sustainable Development Goals. Besides, the commitments at national level has also been placed include a Criminal Law Act, National Policy for Development and Empowerment of Women Criminal Law and a National Plan of Action on Human Rights. The Gender Equality Policy Frameworks and Women’s Empowerment Packages and Initiatives have also been adopted as a local commitment.
Despite these commitments the gender predicament in the country is quite abysmal.
According to Thomson Reuters Foundation, Pakistan is ranked 6th most unsafe country for women. Human Rights Watch report has highlighted how every year 1100 women are killed in the name of honour in Pakistan. In addition to this, in the last couple of years, dozens of women have been killed in the name of honour but were declared as suicide cases and thousands of gender based domestic violence cases went unreported.
According to the World Economic Forum report 2018, out of 149 countries Pakistan is ranked at 148 for women empowerment. Though, Bangladesh and India are ranked as 48 and 108 respectively. Pakistan’s situation in economic participation and opportunity, education attainment, health and survival and political empowerment is ranked at 146, 139, 145, and 97 respectively. Although the situation in 2016 was better in which were ranked 112.
According to gender inequality index 2017, Pakistan is ranked at 133 out of 189 countries and Bangladesh and India are ranked 134 and 127 respectively. According to Gender Development Index 2017, Pakistan is valued at 0.750 and GDI value for Bangladesh and India are 0.881 and 0.841 respectively.
Diane Mariechild says ‘A woman is the full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture, and transform.’
Has anyone ever contemplated how hard a woman’s life is? For instance, a rural working woman gets up early in the morning gives fodder and grass to cattle, milks the livestock, prepares breakfast for family, cleans the house, clothes and utensils, and takes care of the children and her husband. Then, she goes to work in the field, works as a peasant, cuts grass and wood, plants crops and also harvests during the season. Under the open sky in scorching heat, chilling cold and in heavy torrential rains she is the only one who untiringly works every day for survival.
Moreover, one of Oxfam’s reports states that in rural Pakistan; the poor children are four times less likely to be enrolled in a private school than the rich children. And of these children, poor girls are even further disadvantaged, being 31 percent less likely to be enrolled in private school than poor boys.
In addition, a woman in rural areas is responsible for fetching water from around two to three kilometers every day. It takes around three hours only to get water. A woman serves day and night at home freely and without any pay. However, the billion dollars’ worth work which she does do day-to-day is not being counted in any national/global data around the world. It is an acrimonious reality that women work more but are paid very less. There is a huge wage difference between men and women around the world and also in Pakistan.
Relationships in the universe have originated owing to the existence of women. A woman is a mother, wife, sister, daughter, grandmother and etc. These great beautiful and heart feeling relations are not possible without a woman. Every sensible human-being should respect, love and give dignity and equal rights to women.
The Quran says
“And according to usage, women too have rights over men similar to the rights of men over women (2:228).”
Besides, the Prophet (SAW) taught kindness, care and respect for women in general: “I command you to be kind to women.”
Women’s economic, political and social enablement has the potential to transform many women’s lives for the better, and will support the overall socio-economic growth of the country. The paybacks of women-driven growth will help the country greatly. Similar forces, which drive this economic inequality, political capture and market fundamentalism are also further deepening the gender gap. By addressing these, through responsible and autonomous institutions, decent work, progressive taxation and universal public services, we can win the twin struggles against gender and economic inequalities and make the world a fairer and better place.
As gender imbalance is a global issue. It ought to be solved globally with the help of leading global gender based organizations. For that collective action and shared responsibility for driving a gender-balanced world is the key. There should be balance in media coverage, government, politics, education, health, employees, wealth, sports and etc. universally. Countries, with huge gender disparities should be pressurized by international communities to incorporate gender friendly policies.
Murtaza Talpurhas been working in development and humanitarian sector since the last nine years