While we scroll down the news feeds of our social media platforms, we often come across posts discussing the male chauvinistic and patriarchal attitude of our society. But we seldom get to observe such behaviors in real life, i.e. our urban lives. Reason being that rural areas are their actual playing field where such ideas take birth, grow and flourish under the banner of culture and religion.
If we read between the lines here, it is not difficult to get to the root cause, i.e. the deprivation of education in these areas. Men are provided with uneducated masses comprising of women of all ages to exercise their power upon. Provision of such circumstances and suitable audience enable them to assume masculinity as their ultimate power. Here, more than the wrong doers, the sufferers that allow their maltreatment needs to be educated the most. It’s high time that these women should realize that they are being treated unjustly and at instances inhumanely.
When one thinks about the terrible conditions in which such women live and what they have to face on a day to day basis, he realizes that ‘women empowerment’ is just not a fancy term trending on internet, it is here where we need to implement it the most. We have to empower our women, little girls and elderly alike. They need to be on the same footing as men, they need to be as independent as they want, mentally, socially and physically. Therefore instead of cramming about the astonishingly demeaning figures of illiteracy among girls and out of school children, we need to focus on the steps that need to be taken in order to fix the damage.
- Changing the attitudes.
The first and the foremost step is to change our mind sets. It is to stop thinking about the gender disparities, labeling one as superior. Only once we get our heads straight then can we move forward. Women account for 48.6% of our total population, which is now touching the 200 million mark. Hence, pushing approximately half of our people behind the wall of illiteracy will take us back to the dark ages.
It is a dire need to understand that education is not a luxury but a basic requirement, for girls and boys equally. Education must be made available to all irrespective of gender, caste or creed. Men of our society also need to give a shoulder to the cause and help women break the barriers instead of being a barrier themselves.
- Role of government
The ignorance that our government has rendered towards education is a great factor that made Pakistan lag behind internationally. According to the National Human Development Report (NHDR) of 2018, launched by UNDP, only 2.2% of our annual budget is allocated to education sector, making Pakistan above only 14 out of 195 states that spend lesser. In a country facing the largest youth bulge in history, such low budget spending on education sector is certainly alarming. NHDR recognizes 35% of our total population as under 15 years of age, which reflects how devastating can this get, if not tackled with complete dedication and care. This man power must be utilized to the fullest and necessarily be educated, engaged and employed not just to make the nation flourish but also to avoid the havoc it may otherwise create. The future of this nation is by large depending upon the policy makers of today. They are the ones to decide whether we use our youth as resource or liability.
This 64% youth bulge includes equal ratio of men and women. Hence leaving any of the two genders behind would be a great mistake to make. Women have to get as involved as men in all spheres of life, be it economic, social or political in order to achieve sustainable development. The government and other responsible bodies must ensure women equal rights and opportunities and create favorable environment for them to intellectually grow and groom.
Government must also take steps to provide free and quality education to its people.
- Institutional development.
Institutional development is the foundation stone for maintaining a gender balanced society. The need of girls’ schools and colleges in the backward areas must be greatly emphasized and acted upon. The number of all girls’ universities should be increased to include the women from conservative and conventional backgrounds. By this way, professional education can be made available to women from all the segments of life.
Provision of skill based learning can also prove to be a stepping stone here. Establishing vocational training centers and institutions to enhance and develop skills among the students, should be made a preference in order to develop a sense of financial independence within girls.
As true and critical as the state of affairs maybe, we must not overlook the brighter side of the story. Fortunately with the passage of time, we have witnessed the spread of awareness like never before. Thanks to the mainstream and social media for igniting the fire in girls to fight for their rights and for the rights of those who are underprivileged. At present we have numerous inspirational women to look up to in our society, be it in the field of politics, business, entertainment or sports. Women are finally stepping out and breaking the stereotypes. Now it is our responsibility to bring this light of change to every inch of darkness and through our support and encouragement never let the light fade away.
Ms. Urooj Ahmed
NOTE: VIEWS EXPRESSED IN THIS ARTICLE ARE THE PERSONAL VIEWS OF WRITER AND DO NOT REPRESENT PAGE