Kofi Annan stated: “Literacy unlocks the door to learning throughout life. It is essential to development and health, and opens the way for democratic participation and active citizenship… Education is a human right with immense power to transform. On its foundation rest the cornerstones of freedom, democracy and sustainable human development.” Most unfortunately, Pakistan’s reality is in stark contrast with Kofi Annan’s motto. Thirty percent of Pakistan’s citizens live in extreme educational poverty and it is no secret that the majority of these disadvantaged citizens are women. In fact, it is known that only one in every three rural women has ever attended any type of school. Less than half of the female population that may have attained any form of education is situated in rural areas. Therefore, there is no doubt that the bifurcated society of Pakistan mainly hinders females from contributing to societal, communitarian and national development.
Indeed, education of women is one of the most important and powerful investments a country can make to advance towards development. As Saleha Parveen in her article on “Female Education and National Development” states: “Female literacy plays a very significant and crucial role in the development of a nation, especially in the economic development of a country. But female education in Pakistan, its status and standard is particularly at the lowest ebb. Thousands of girls’ otherwise intelligent and capable to get education are deprived because of multifarious socio-cultural, economic reasons [and] gender prejudices. Due to this reason, they are unable to play an active role in the development of society.” (Parveen) Pakistan suffers immeasurably in offering women access to education. There are several reasons for this, some a direct result of the Government’s ineffective decision making and prioritizing, and others due to lack of accountability and implementation at the provincial and local levels. It is imperative to recognize these problems and address them in order to facilitate an environment where women, countless in number, can play active roles and help Pakistan gain a stable momentum.
The aim of this paper is to explain how an increase in the number of educated females can qualitatively accelerate national development in Pakistan. This paper is organized into three sections. The first section explains the ways in which a nation can not only develop, but also accelerate its process of progress by educating its females. The second section outlines the most dominant problems Pakistani women face in attaining education, which renders them unable to participate in both the economic and social advancement of the country. The third section offers viable solutions, which address the prescribed issues and comprise of the potential to redirect Pakistan’s future onto a successful path. It must be taken into account that the focus cannot merely be on providing education to the women, but a proper standard of education, which leads to an increase in their skills and international recognition so that the labor market achieves qualitative improvement.
It is important at this time to define the definition of ‘national development’ as it will be used in this essay. Within this contest, it will refer to a nation developing when all of its citizens recognize their duty to engage in the process of progress, so as to create a better country for all. Since more than half of Pakistan’s population gains its income from agricultural labor, it is important to recognize the number of women that are compelled to engage in agricultural work; and not afforded the opportunity to attain education. These women are mostly situated in rural a area, which makes access to the numbered schools of good standing close to impossible.
Section I: Women Involvement Increases National Development
According to the World Bank, educating girls delivers a higher return than any other investment in the developing world. First, their knowledge makes them aware of the advantages of smaller families. Pakistan’s population has already reached 174 million and is fast growing. Pakistan’s population is 100 million more people than in France, even though the square footage of both countries is almost the same! However, there are extreme water, food and electricity shortages and there is no doubt that having more mouths to feed is a colossal burden on not just the average family, but the nation’s economy as well. Henceforth, educating women can alleviate many of these problems, including decrease population growth, nurture upcoming generation, impart wisdom, participate in election of leaders, and reduce extreme sexist ideologies and more. Literacy is, undoubtedly, the first step towards reducing the inequalities between men and women and ensuring the maximum participation of women in the developmental process. The literacy of females is key in improving the health, nutrition and education of the family in order to empower the daughters of the house to contribute to social and economic development of Pakistan. Angela Browne and Hazel Barrett in their article on Female Education state: “In the development process education should be a priority for all members of a society, but evidence is emerging which assigns a pivotal role to women’s education. Women…in exercising their responsibility for the nurturing, upbringing, socialization and education of their children, are key actors in the process of human development. As farmers, traders and economically active citizens, they are also crucial economic development. Yet they are being impeded by their very low levels of literacy and education.”
Educated women can improve the quality of society in several ways. “The first training institution of our children is family, especially the mother, but unfortunately I our country most mothers are incapable of bringing up their children in a good manner because of their own illiteracy, poor health and lack of recognition of social and legal rights.” (Parveen) On a social and familial level, literacy enables them to have a higher likelihood of making informed decisions in regards with their family’s size, child’s health and child’s education. Each of these can improve the generations to come, and since, in majority cases, mothers’ are known to influence their children more than not, they are the key to unlocking the door of prosperity. As Browne and Barnett highlight, there is a “very significant link between high levels of infant and child mortality and low levels of maternal education… On average, each one-year increment in mothers’ education corresponds with a 7-9% decline in less than 5 years mortality. The link between education and mortality is stronger in childhood than in infancy and is apparently stronger in rural than in urban years.”
Erudite women, with their increased exposure to the nation’s troubles, are known to opt for smaller families. The men-dominated system and socio-economic structure is retained and internalized by the women. Education can increase the level of control women have over their lives, hence reduce child production so as to stabilize the nation’s population growth and expansion. This can help in Pakistan’s population crisis, since the number of citizens is well beyond 174 million, having less mouths to feed for the mother, and for the Government would be a blessing. She can use her knowledge to limit the number of children she is to have, not only to benefit the country, but also so that she can give her very best to the few children she may have than have to divide these resources amongst several. Access to education can make this possible; it can make them aware of the troubles of large families and support them as well so that they do not feel shunned by society for not following the norm of perpetually reproducing.
A mother who has more informed knowledge than another is better equipped to manage her child’s health. This is because she is conscious of the diverse medical options she has, and can use knowledge, or acquired skills from medical school or even basic hygiene and health courses, make conversant decisions concerning her son or daughter’s health. Similarly, an education can enable a mother to identify good schools with appropriate standards so as to enhance the upcoming generation. She can use her familiarity, through her own academic know-how to make decisions best suited for her children. A universal reality is that more mother’s stay at home than fathers, therefore, undoubtedly her education can play a vital role in her everyday choices to better equip and inform her offspring. In fact, female literacy can directly decrease levels of child labor as well because she can make the decision of sending her children to school, than having them work. A literate mother is aware of how an educated child will be able to make a much higher income than an illiterate one. This can lead to an increase in employment rates as well, since the educated child can enter higher-level fields of work. This will eventually result in an increase in the middle class of Pakistan; where equality of opportunity will prevail. As John Stewart Mill, the famous American writer and political theorists claims, allowing for equal opportunity is key for the peoples, so that they may begin at the same place and then, utilize their education and human faculties to achieve a better quality and standard of life. How can this be made possible with illiteracy at its highest in Pakistan?
Furthermore, women can use their knowledge as grounds for holding fort if their husbands oppress, degrade, mistreat or dominate them. As Parveen explicates: “The patriarchal system continues to prevail giving men more control over all aspects of women’s lives, including domestic, reproductive, productive, socio cultural and legal [aspects].” In today’s world, having a degree grants you financial security as well, therefore educated women would have less of a reason to submit to their husband’s ill intentioned demands. They can also reduce the extremist sexist ideologies of their husbands in order to inculcate balanced point of views, benefiting them as a couple, and as parents.
On a political level, it is widely known that education assists citizens of a nation in electing better leaders. The more learned they are, the more politically versed they can be as education is instrumental in inculcating the skill of critical analysis and seeing both sides of the story, without which, citizens would solely be driven by emotional rants in selecting political leaders. In fact, access to education makes citizens become active in comprehending the politics of their country, and can form informed calculations, evaluations and assessments. Therefore, if Pakistan can increase its female literacy, they can also partake in the election process, which would result in higher citizen representation in the selection of the political leadership of the country. This would lead to a higher level of accountability of the leaders, which tends to result in them working more diligently and hence producing better results for the citizens.
On a religious and cultural level, it is of the essence to be in full recognition of Pakistan comprising of 99% Muslims. Religion has its implications on the people, their decisions and consequentially on the development of a country. In rural areas, where more than half of the population resides, parents are extremely conscious of the gender of the teacher at the schools. In particular, they do not approve of their daughters having a male teacher, as that puts them in direct contact with a man and intervenes with their ideas of modesty and chastity. Therefore, if Pakistan can educate women, more female teachers can be generated, which would increase female enrollment in schools as an outcome.
Section II No Woman No Education No Participation in the Development of your Nation
Rates of gender disparity in literacy make evident the desperate situation of females in Pakistan. The deprivation and discrimination that women face is a reason for the nation’s failure to achieve national development. An excerpt from my previous research clarifies the situation of female literacy in Pakistan:
“The males in Punjab, Sindh and even NWFP [Khyber Pakhtunkhawa] are at par with each other; it is the females who greatly lag behind. The highest gender differentials are found in NWFP, where females are greatly discouraged from attending schools and must submit to a domestic role. They are also the women most likely to be married at a very young age and bearing children in their teenage years. Furthermore, Balochistan, the largest province is again in the last position among the four provinces in gender literacy rates. Here, males and females have the lowest literacy levels. The inequalities found in literacy distribution are most pronounced for females residing in the rural areas. Districts with higher male and female literacy rates are Lahore, Islamabad, Karachi, Rawalpindi and Quetta. Interestingly, these districts also have the highest rates of economic development.”
The problems of poor educational achievements are multifarious. We can divide this section into two subsections. The first subsection deals with female education and enrollment at the national leadership level. The second subsection highlights the hindrances provincial and local leaders come across when it comes to offering women access to education.
Subsection I: National Leadership and Female Literacy
The Education Profile of Pakistan from the Human Development Chart of 2001 shows that that female literacy rate is barely 30% in Pakistan, in comparison with 58.9% of males. Additionally, even though there are 215,977 female teaching staff in comparison with 88,189 of men, there are no incentives for maintaining and increasing female teaching enrollment, which presents a spectrum of problems to the female population of Pakistan. Below, several dominant reasons have been identified that speak directly to Pakistan’s lack of educational opportunities for women.
Background: Pakistan’s Disheveled History
As Saleha Parveen outlines:
“The existing female education in Pakistan, a part of our national system of education, was introduced in 1854 during the colonial rule. There was hardly any provision for the education of girls in the indigenous traditional educational system consisting of Maktabs and Madrassahs. Girls were not allowed to seek admission in these indigenous institutions as they were exclusively meant for boys. Also there were no separate educational institutions for female. From 1854 to 1947, till the creation of Pakistan, female education developed very slowly. According to the report of Federal Bureau of Statistics, at the time of independence, there were only 82 female secondary schools. During the last 60 years, female education has remained… neglected.”
Such a marginalization of women from the time of Pakistan’s birth makes evident the deep-rooted issue that we have to face. In spite of efforts since 1947, the female educational organizations working towards female enrollment have not met much success. Unfortunately, Pakistan’s history has manipulated its present and hindered its future. However, this is certainly not the only problem at hand. There are several reasons why the history of such a country continues to dominate its present as identified and explained below.
Talibanization of Pakistan:
Having Afghanistan as its’ neighbor has had its implications on Pakistan. 99 percent of Pakistan’s population is considered to be Muslim, and religion undoubtedly plays a pivotal role. In particular, since the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Centers, religion has taken a turn for the worst and the extremists involved discourage female education by taking drastic measures. Any newspaper archive will show that the number of girls’ schools that the Taliban has blown up is over 300, in the Northern region of Pakistan alone. This has perpetuated fear and disaster in the hearts and minds of the people. Parents with daughters are petrified of sending them to school; especially when most schools are not even able to provide female teachers, closer locations, hygienic facilities or any fee waivers to encourage female literacy either.
With continued explosions in several of the cities in Pakistan, the Government has made fighting terror its priority, not recognizing that developing its institutions at the same time is key to achieve stability in the country. As the number of religious fundamentalists increases, and now with the capturing of Osama Bin Laden, the Taliban have made their target clear: Pakistan. Since they began battling Western threat, the militants have blown over 70 state-run schools in the North Western region in recent months, affecting over 17,000 students. They use Islam as a foundation for reasoning why females should not attend school. Their claims include how women must remain secluded, veiled, restricted and limited to residential roles. They must not attain education, as it will serve no purpose, and instead give them exposure to opportunities such as careers and professions, which they are not permitted to engage in. In fact, after many negotiations with the leadership of Pakistan, the Taliban decided that females could only attend school up to fifth grade. Such exploitation of Islam has decreased female enrollment and inculcated severe fear in the population.
Combating Indian fear: (Militarization of Pakistan)
Since the birth of Pakistan, it has fought almost three wars with India and the Pakistani Army continues to sit, prepared and ready for attack on the Wagha border between India and Pakistan. The amount of funds that are redirected towards the military is unbelievable. In fact, since 1998 when Pakistan and India tested their nuclear bombs, the tension has only increased and both have reached the verge of war countless times. Such an insecure position that Pakistan holds has led the government of the nation to make the military its top priority. Not realizing that the development of institutions, such as education, will gain Pakistan more stability, the national leadership has year, after year, spend on arms, weaponry and training of the military. Therefore, developing the education sector in Pakistan has not been on the agenda for several years now and females are regarded as a burden and a far away priority. Conversely to Pakistan, “India’s economy has continued to rise, its educational system has improved and democracy has generally prevailed. Most importantly, India’s conventional military capabilities are far more superior to those of Pakistan. In order to maintain stability, the country has made it its foremost responsibility to acquire as much military resources and equipment as possible, in order to counterbalance the Indian threat.” In order to maintain its counterbalancing ability, Pakistan’s budget is dedicated to defense, rather than education.
Subsection II: Local Leadership and Female Literacy
Pakistan’s females have suffered immensely at the hands of the education sector. This has been a result of the fragmented educational systems that have not been regulated by the provincial and local councils who are in charge.
Lack of accountability
The Ministers appointed at the provincial and local levels are rarely held accountable. They are given these posts merely because they have contacts with the higher officials. Merit is of no significance, and neither is actual knowledge of the institution they have been asked to evaluate and assess. These individuals usually are in a position of high status, and therefore, any of the surrounding lower or middle class people find themselves unable to contest their authority because they will only get themselves into trouble. Such corruption at the local level has proved disastrous for Pakistan. As research by Ishrat Husain makes clear, the gender gap, which has been left unattended to, suggests that the country has “foregone a great opportunity by not capitalizing on the large rates of return of female schooling on economic productivity. In a study, it was found that females had higher rates of return than their male counterparts. (Ashraf and Ashraf 1993, Husain) Another study estimated that annual growth in income per capita could have been nearly a percentage point faster if Pakistan had closed the gender gap as fast as East Asia between 1960 and 1992. (Klasen, 1999, Husain).” It is the responsibility of the councils and ministers appointed at these provincial and local levels to carry out assessments and evaluations to ensure that females are being enrolled, provided with related incentives and that their needs are catered to in order to increase their enrollment and maintain it. However, that has not been the case in Pakistan, because these leaders have no “need” to act in accordance with their tasks; they are not answerable to anyone since they have been appointed by their friends or family members and only stage their interest in order to receive the high income.
Lack of incentives for Teachers
Since funding is limited, the teachers are not well paid. In particular, there are not many training programs offered and there is nobody to check on them to ensure they are doing the right job. The reality is that many teachers do initially join schools, but after viewing the lack of facilities at the school, the teachers are severely discouraged from attending and participating. The Government is unable to provide them with basic stationery and textbooks even, which makes teaching an even more tedious job for these rarely qualified teachers. Not being able to develop, let alone harness their skills makes for them to be highly ineffective at teaching. On top of that, their salaries are irregularly paid and do not meet their minimum requirements for sustenance. Therefore, there is a lack of incentives for teachers in Pakistan.
Indeed, the situation is different for teachers in private schools of Pakistan. However, the number of private schools is extremely low and their fees are extremely high. This combination makes for a very exclusive sector of Pakistani elite to attend such schools. Here, teachers are mostly well paid and qualified and those who own the school and have taken the personal initiative to build it evaluate their work. Another issue that relates to private schools is that of the donors. With Pakistan’s shaky political climate, many of the investors have stepped out of the country out of fear, therefore, the funds coming in are not regulated either.
Lack of incentives for Parents and Children
Due to the unstable internal situation in Pakistan, parents have become increasingly particular about how far the schools are located from their homes, how costly they are, whether they provide fee waivers and free textbooks and if there are female teachers are not. First, the location is important because parents are uneasy sending their daughters to walk long distances and reach school as that increases their chances of being sexually harassed. Since there are not many other options such as school transportation or cars, walking is the only way for these children to attend school. With increasing militancy and the burning of schools, having their daughters walk alone has made parents even more uncomfortable and fearful. Second, since the number of schools has lessened with the bombings, the costs have gone up of the schools. Many rural families cannot afford the fees, hence resort to having their daughters engage in child labor by working in the fields or by marrying them off at an exceptionally early age. In this way, schooling daughters is seen as a burden and parents are encouraged to send them out of the homes than have to pay for their schooling. Third, since the Government has cut the budget for education, schools are finding it increasingly hard to provide fee waivers and free textbooks or uniforms. Children have to find ways to pay for these, which adds to the burden of the parents, discouraging them for sending them to school. Fourth, a significant problem is that of the lack of female teachers. Parents feel much more comfortable sending their daughters to school if the teachers are female, in order to match the parent’s religious requirements. They are also afraid to have their daughter’s work and study in close proximity with males, and want to avoid any potential incidents of physical closeness or harassment. After much research and surveying, it was found that parents are much more likely to send their daughters to school if there are women-teachers. However, since females are discouraged from attaining an education right from the primary level, the number of female teachers is low, which presents a tumultuous problem for the females of Pakistan.
Section III Solutions to the Multifarious Problems: Contexts of Change
As James Williams and William Cumming’s book, Policy-Making For Education Reform in Developing Countries correctly articulates, in order to achieve change, there must be recognition of the multi-layered design that has to be followed. In particular: “[First] multiple contexts of education change – the policy and the organizational contexts in which change is decided and enacted… [Second] processes of education change – surfacing and testing implicit change theories-in-use; development hypotheses, program theories and their empirical bases; factors affecting organizational learning; and more models of the change process.” Taking this in-depth understanding of the complexities at hand to bring change, we begin by outlining the traditions of Pakistan that have hindered women from achieving educational progress.
The dominant traditions of education in Pakistan sideline women on a perpetual basis. These traditions were institutionalized during Pakistan’s formative periods in the late 1940’s, and since then, the lack of major change in leadership, financial discrepancies along with a diverse set of problems at the local level have hindered an increase in female literacy. “The first training institution of our children is family, especially the mother, but unfortunately I our country most mothers are incapable of bringing up their children in a good manner because of their own illiteracy, poor health and lack of recognition of social and legal rights.” From this, we can draw several analyses. First, the Government must make female education a priority and increase its spending achieving this primary goal. Second, taking the people’s religious and cultural inclinations into account, the provincial and local councils on education development must build schools, hire teachers, provide incentives and waivers to increase female enrollment. Of course, merely building schools will not cut it: what will make parents send their daughters to school is a question that must be directly answered and assessed. Getting the parents involved by actively asking for their opinions and support is key in achieving success.
Twenty-six other countries in the world send more children to primary school that are poorer than Pakistan. Eliminating the emergency situation of education in Pakistan is therefore, not an impossible task. In fact, there are numerous ways in which each issue, that hinders female literacy, can be addressed, solved and Pakistan’s educational future can be redirected towards the horizon of success. This section takes each specific issue mentioned in the previous section and provides viable solutions for them. If adopted, many of the prevalent problems that females face can be eradicated, and they can be offered equal opportunities of attaining education and changing the dynamics of national development in Pakistan.
Contexts of Change at the National Level:
Re-direct Priority to Institutionalization of Education: Battling Talibanization the Right Way
Since the dawn of the official War Against Terror, Pakistan’s government has taken it upon itself to leave all other matters of the country aside and fight at the forefront against terrorism. From training thousands of the police force, to spending large sums of money on weapons for the army, the government has faced enormous difficulty prioritizing. The reality is that until and unless Pakistan’s institutions such as education are not developed, the one hundred and seventy four million people will continue to be frustrated, dissatisfied and thirsty to create rebellion and chaos in the country. These are, in fact, the poverty-stricken individuals who join the militancy because they have nothing else to live for. The terrorists provide them with incentives such as free education for their children, waivers for uniforms, textbooks, free lunch and dinner at the school along with a stipend for the family. Most unfortunately, the Taliban is doing the government’s job and unless the government does not make it its top most priority to develop institutions that can combat poverty, Pakistan’s future remains grim. Additionally, the Taliban keeps discouraging women from attending schools, but caters for the need of the males so well that the families conclude on not sending their daughters to school any way.
In order to achieve literacy equity, the government must clearly make education its priority and put forth specific guidelines that will enable women to not only receive access to education, but also be able to maintain it. Forming an organization or an association of women that will deal with first, primary education, second, secondary education and third, higher education is key. These associations should be given the funds and the authority to make decisions in order to increase female enrollment. As mentioned earlier in this paper, it is imperative to take into account Pakistan’s majority of the population prefers females handling the education sector for religious and traditional reasons. It is the government of Pakistan’s duty to meet these needs of the masses in order to promote gender equality in the sector of education.
Re-direct Finances towards All Things Educational: Battling Indian Fear the Right Way
The Government of Pakistan must realize that they cannot afford to channelize so much money towards the Indian border. The threat cannot be eliminated this way. India will always remain as a neighbor for Pakistan, and by spending so many millions of Rupees in counterbalancing the threat against India; Pakistan is actually falling far behind in its process of progress. These funds must be re-directed towards institutions such as education, and then used towards increasing the quantity and quality of teacher training programs, incentives, fee waivers, free textbook and uniforms, providing lunch and stipends to extremely poor families, improving the conditions of the school, regulating electricity and water supply and of course, regulating teacher salaries and investing in producing more female teachers so as to match the needs of the majority religious population of Pakistan.
Contexts of Change at the Local Level
Hold the Provincial and Local Councils Accountable
In order to regulate the education system after institutionalizing it at the national level, or by the government is to make merit the only qualification requisite to hold positions in the provincial and local councils. The population, via media, Internet and publications must make one another aware of holding leaders accountable. In most rural regions of Pakistan, women are not aware of their rights to education, let alone asking the leaders to give them what they have been elected for. This unawareness must be transformed from the bottom-up. Students across the borders must play their role and spread awareness; and expose females to their basic human rights. This way, when a leader will be elected at the provincial or local levels, they will know they are being watched and their work being evaluated, which will automatically lead to effective processing and productive results. In this manner, not only can school facilities and structures be evaluated, but also maintained. Significantly, females can benefit from this because even today, the number of males receiving education is almost double that of females. If the regulators of education can work effectively, then the likelihood of female’s being neglected can be lowered.
Motivate Teachers by providing them with Incentives
An institution can only function if those who are leading it, are doing so in the best way; if the standards appropriated are being achieved and success is a result of direct and determined labor. In the same way, for schools to function, good and efficient teachers are a requisite. In Pakistan, female teachers are a requisite as well and to meet this necessity, a large number of teacher training programs have to be established. These programs must endorse the strength of female teachers; offer them with stipends and regulate their salaries so that when they go home, their husbands cannot blame them for not staying at home and not even earning an income. The reality is that women in Pakistan have to work harder to achieve their rights to a career because the majority of the men do not realize this. Therefore, ensuring that they receive adequate salaries and also safe transportation is imperative in order to increase the number of female teachers.
Encourage Parents to Participate and provide them with Avenues to Contribute
The context of institutionalizing education is dependent upon the decision of the parents: Whether they believe sending their child to school trumps their need for income via child labor. However well designed a school system may be, the perspective of the parents must be incorporated so as to make transparent the qualities and benefits of education. In Pakistan, there is no doubt that females suffer the most in this respect. Most daughters are labeled as burdens, which is why they are married off at a very young age. Furthermore, the girls are used to carry out domestic or work in the fields so that they may not have to venture outside of the designated “safe zone”. This poses a dramatic problem for women, because the environment along with the standard of the school, which is beyond their control, is taken as a reason for them not to have access to their right of education. To address this issue, parents must be considered as a vital part of the functioning of a school. Formulating teacher and parent associations, ensuring that the parents are made comfortable, their needs met and their ideas of education assessed must become a regular part of every single school. This may be deemed as a very difficult task, however, surveys and research show that parents are most concerned for their daughter, and want the best for her as well. If teachers and schools can take the initiative and promote parent participation in schools by having them attend and evaluate classes, offer their opinions, form a board of parents, then there is a much higher chance of increased female enrollment.
“Undoubtedly, education is one of the most effective levers to bring about economic and human development. It builds human capacity while creating hope and opportunity for people. It empowers individuals to choose who they want to be, and what contribution they want to make to the society in which they live.”
The analysis that emerges from this paper is that the widening male-female education differential is leading to Pakistan’s demise. For a country to develop, it must establish equal grounds for all of its citizens to increase their knowledge, gain information, acquire and advance their skills and actively participate in the functioning of a nation. Whatever little improvement Pakistan has witnessed from time-to-time has evidently not been enough, and majority of the women in the population continue to engage in residential and rural labor. This under-funded reality must be made a priority in Pakistan.
Education is not only crucial in its right – it is also vital in so many other ways. It improves the quality of life one leads, from health, nutrition, awareness to eliminating poverty and aspiring for a better future. It can qualitatively inform and shape a nation over time. For countless years now, it has become a globally agreed-to framework for achieving success in life; on an individual and on a national level. It is in the hands of education that our upcoming generation of children can live better lives. More significantly, Pakistan’s women are at a particular disadvantage. Pakistan has only 94 women for every 100 men, one of the most unequal distributions in the world, and this is reflected in the education equity Pakistan faces. Fewer than half of the women have ever attended schools, not to mention the percentage of those who have remained in schools. But the education of women is one of the most important investments a society can ever make. If we do not want to fail them, we must bring a change, and bring it now. We must raise the gender disparity and enable the women of Pakistan to make a difference, as evidence shows, they can play a vital role in the social and economic development of a country. Without them, we are nothing. With them, we can be everything.
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