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Gender Equality And Human Rights – By Iqra Mumtaz

Iqra MumtazFreelance Writer

Gender Equality and Human Rights in Pakistanجنسی مُساوات اور اِنسانی حقوقलैंगिक समानता और मानवाधिकारWomen’s Rights Are Human Rights

“Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women.”“When you lift up women, you lift up families, you lift up communities, you lift up economies – and you lift up your country.”“There’s something so special about a woman who dominates in a man’s world. It takes a certain grace, strength, intelligence, fearlessness, and the nerve to never take no for an answer.”

Women’s Rights Are Human Rights:

Attaining equality between women and men and eliminating all forms of discrimination against women are fundamental human rights and United Nations values. Women around the world nevertheless regularly suffer violations of their human rights throughout their lives, and realizing women’s human rights has not always been a priority. Achieving equality between women and men requires a comprehensive understanding of the ways in which women experience discrimination and are denied equality so as to develop appropriate strategies to eliminate such discrimination.

Women's Rights in Iran | Human Rights Watch

It is a violation of human rights when women are denied the right to plan their own families, and thatincludes being forced to have abortions or being sterilized against their will. Women’s rights are human rights. Let us not forget that among those rights are the right to speak freely – and the right to be heard. Women must enjoy the right to participate fully in the social and political lives of their countries if wewant freedom and democracy to thrive and endure. Freedom means the right of people to assemble, organize, and debate openly. It means respecting the views of those who may disagree with the views of their governments. It means not taking citizens away from their loved ones and jailing them, mistreating them, or denying them their freedom or dignity because of the peaceful expression of their ideas and opinions. Now it is time to act on behalf of women everywhere. If we take bold steps to better the lives ofwomen, we will be taking bold steps to better the lives of children and families too.

As long as discrimination and inequities remain so commonplace around the world – as long as girlsand women are valued less, fed less, fed last, overworked, underpaid, not schooled and subjected toviolence in and out of their homes – the potential of the human family to create a peaceful, prosperousworld will not be realized.

Womens Rights Images - Free Download on Freepik

Woman’s Rights in Pakistan:

There is a saying, “Behind every successful man, there is a woman”. In today’s modern times the role of woman has expanded many folds and now she is not only behind the success of a man but she also plays an important role in the success of a nation. Women are an integral part of any society who play an important role in the development of a country. Therefore, they should be provided with platforms to utilize their talents and improve their standard of living. Unfortunately, that is not the case in Pakistan. Social spaces of expression for women have increasingly been squeezed in Pakistan over the years.

Gender equality and human rights have remained significant challenges in Pakistani society. Deep-rooted patriarchal norms have historically promoted unequal gender roles and limited women’s empowerment and participation. However, over the past few decades, progress has been made through legal reforms, advocacy efforts, and increased awareness. While discrimination and violence against women persist, initiatives targeting education, economic empowerment, and legislative changes indicate a gradually shifting landscape. Addressing issues of gender inequality and promoting women’s rights is crucial for Pakistan to achieve inclusive development and prosperity.

Women hold up half the sky, but whether they are compensated for this effort in Pakistan remains questionable. As of last year, Pakistan stood only above Afghanistan as the second-most unequal country along gender lines in the world. Women face disproportionately higher risks of poverty, financial and economic exclusion, and unemployment. However, exports and economic growth offer a glimmer of hope in an otherwise bleak scenario.

Pakistan has become the sixth worst country for women to live in according to the Thomson Reuters Foundation

The gender discrimination is deeply rooted in the Pakistani society. The gender disparity in Pakistan is evident at household level. It includes Distribution of food, education, health care, early and forced marriages, denial of inheritance right, mobility restriction, abuse, and violence.

Pakistani women rights activists called for a change in mindset in the country on Wednesday after Pakistan was ranked the second-worst country in the world for gender parity in the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Gender Gap Report 2022.

The top five countries in the report, featuring a list of 146 countries, were Iceland, Finland, Norway, New Zealand and Sweden. Pakistan occupied number 145 on the list, the second-worst. The only country that performed worse than Pakistan was Afghanistan.

Gender Equality | United Nations Development Programme

The report also said Pakistan was among five countries with a gender gap greater than 5 percent, with the others being Qatar, Azerbaijan, China and India.

In the Economic Participation and Opportunity sub index, the report said women in Pakistan had the smallest share of senior, managerial and legislative roles at 4.5 percent.

“Until we as a nation don’t change the perception that women’s only purpose in life should be staying within the four walls of their homes, go out only when allowed by the men of the family, get married and bear and rear [their] children, the status of women will not change,” Tasneem Ahmar, the founder of the women’s rights advocacy group UK, told Arab News, responding to the latest survey.

“In Pakistan, institutions are male-dominated where there exists a patriarchal bias,” Farzana Bari, a prominent human rights activist and academic, told Arab News.  “They don’t let competent women rise to the top positions,” she said, adding that men acting as “gatekeepers” in various institutions kept women from achieving positions higher than Grade 18 or 19.   Bari cited the examples of Pakistan’s health and education sectors.

“Women run the education and health sectors but how many women DGs or secretaries in health do you see?” she asked. Speaking about the report in general, Bari said such indexes did not take into account Pakistan’s ground realities, such as conflicts that kept women away from the workforce or issues specific to women of this region. She said another problem was that such indexes did not take into consideration the informal sector, which had witnessed the entry of many women and children after the coronavirus pandemic.

Beyond the needle & thread

The WEF report said Pakistan had registered a significant improvement across three sub-indexes, with the highest positive variation on Economic Participation and Opportunity.

“This is the highest overall level of parity Pakistan has posted since the report launched,” the report said. “While wage equality carries the highest gender gap score among economic indicators (0.620), advances were also reported in estimated earned income, where women’s earnings increased 4% compared to 2021.”

The report said South Asia had one of the lowest regional gender parity scores for Health and Survival, at 94.2%, with Afghanistan, Pakistan and India among the worst-performing countries in this category globally.

A group photo of women nominated for district committees at the inaugural ceremony in Peshawar. — File photo

Historical Context:

Traditional social structures in Pakistan have upheld a patriarchal value system where women’s roles are centered around marriage, motherhood, and caregiving within the private sphere of the home. Religious ideologies contributed to the notion of women as subordinate to male authority figures. During British colonial rule, these notions were further institutionalized through legal codes that denied women equal rights. After independence in 1947, efforts to modernize clashed with conservative cultural forces, creating ambiguity around women’s place in the public and political domains. Significant events like conflicts with neighboring countries in subsequent decades reinforced nationalist narratives emphasizing the protection of traditional gender roles.

Historical precedence explains the link between gender parity and export growth. In fact, despite the successes listed above, Pakistan is still an outlier compared to its South Asian competitors like Bangladesh, India, and Sri Lanka who have all seen greater gains for women coinciding with greater export growth (Lopez-Acevedo and Robertson, 2016). Pakistan has failed to fully harness its export potential and therefore has stunted its women’s potential too.

Social media has also empowered women to speak for themselves through the major platforms

A study in 2022 explored the experience of Bangladeshi women employed in the textile export sector, using interviews and statistical data on income growth and financial asset growth. It found that women attained financial independence, empowerment, and social mobility due to paid employment (Mamun and Hoque, 2022). The proportion of bank accounts opened in a woman’s name rather than joint accounts opened under a husband’s name also grew in Bangladesh as exports expanded. This implies a growing level of financial literacy, allowing many women to buy plots of land, and begin schooling for themselves or their children.

Furthermore, their contribution to household budgets gave women the leverage to negotiate greater respect and autonomy amongst their communities (Mamun and Hoque, 2023). In Pakistan, only 13% of women have bank accounts, which aggravates poverty and maintains cycles of dependency between women and men. Empirical research into labor market trends among South Asian exports also explains why textile exports are specifically good for women.

Empowering women still a challenge in Pakistan

Current Challenges:

Pakistan is a constitutional republic founded in 1947. It has a complicated social structure, based on customary law instead of divine guidance. The intricate social design of Pakistan has created problems for women in every field of life. Women are considered the source of all evil and a burden on the shoulders of parents and other family members. In Pakistani culture, a woman faces tremendous challenges, particularly in tribal regions of the country, where the situation of women is grim in all walks of life. An attempt is made in this article to analys. the situation of women in Pakistan and provide some remedies for overcoming inequality, injustice, and discrimination.

Despite great strides made by the international women’s rights movement over many years, women and girls around the world are still married as children or trafficked into forced labor and sex slavery. They are refused access to education and political participation, and some are trapped in conflicts where rape is perpetrated as a weapon of war. Around the world, deaths related to pregnancy and childbirth are needlessly high, and women are prevented from making deeply personal choices in their private lives. Human Rights Watch is working toward the realization of women’s empowerment and gender equality—protecting the rights and improving the lives of women and girls on the ground.

Pakistani women are more than half of the total population, but women are treated cold-heartedly within their homes by their partners or leading males through different ways like Domestic Violence, Sawara, Vani, Karo, Kari, killings based on honor, acid throwing, forced marriages etc.

Campaign #MeToo also went viral on social media in Pakistan.

Despite progress, significant discrimination persists against women in Pakistan. Only 46% of women participate in the labor force compared to 81% of men. Women account for a meagre 21.7% of seats in parliament (Inter-Parliamentary Union, 2021). Gender-based violence remains widespread, with over 1,000 honor killings reported annually (Amnesty International, 2020). Domestic abuse, acid attacks, and sexual violence occur regularly without adequate legal consequences. Women subject to such abuse often face social stigma and abandonment. Numerous women also remain out of school due to poverty and patriarchal norms. Obstructions to land ownership and inheritance rights undermine women’s economic security. Conservative interpretations of Sharia law further enable everyday marginalizationand curb women’s autonomy over their lives. Challenges Women Face in Competing with Men Women in Pakistan continue to face considerable challenges in competing equally with men, especially in male dominated sectors.

Threatened with violence and intimidation, Pakistani women still vow to march

Some of the key issues women’s are facing in Pakistan:

Cultural mindsets: Deeply entrenched patriarchal attitudes in society view women as lesscapable than men. This mindset poses significant social resistance against women pursuingcareers perceived as “men’s work”.Family responsibilities: The burden of unpaid care work at home, like childrearing andhousehold duties, predominantly falls on women. This limits their ability to dedicate longhours and energy into professional development as easily as men.Mobility restrictions: Social norms restrict mobility of unmarried women in public spaces.This disadvantage becomes more pronounced for career advancement opportunities likebusiness travel and networking events held outside regular hours.Safety concerns: Threats of harassment and lack of secure transportation curtail women’smobility to pursue education and jobs far from home. The risk of commuting deters manyfrom higher-paying opportunities in industries located in industrial zones away fromresidential areas.Gender wage gap: Even in similar job roles and qualifications, women on average earn lessthan men due to discrimination and lack of negotiation skills promoted among women. Thiswage disparity grows significantly with age and experience.Limited role models: Few visible women leaders and entrepreneurs in upper managementremain an exception rather than the norm. This scarcity of female mentors and sponsors actsas a deterrent for younger women to aspire towards and break into male-dominated sectors.Sexual harassment: Rampant harassment at the workplace creates a hostile environmentcompromising women’s dignity and performance. Many capable women shy away frompursuing careers with higher risks of facing such abuse.

Overcoming these substantial socio-cultural barriers requires dedicated efforts acrossdifferent fronts to facilitate equal opportunities for women to compete fairly with men on alevel playing field.

Progress and Initiatives:

Pakistan has taken initial steps towards reforming discriminatory laws and policies. The Protection of Women Against Violence Act was enacted in 2015 to provide the legal framework for domestic abuse cases. In 1996, the Women’s Protection Act criminalized karokari (honor killings), offering some deterrence through harsher sentencing. However, implementation and prosecution remain weak. The 2018 Criminal Law (Amendment) Act banned child marriage under 16. Pakistan has committed to promoting gender equality through SDG 5 by 2030. Active civil society and non-profit organizations play a leading role in advocacy. Groups like Aurat March and Women Action Forum raise awareness through protests while providing legal aid and shelter to victims. Provincial commissions on women’s status monitor legislative progress. Many charities at the grassroots level focus on education, skill-building,and empowerment through microfinancing programs.

More women entering politics and public leadership signal gradual changes. Despite facing immense resistance from religious conservatives and extremist factions, women like Benazir Bhutto and Sherry Rehman have held the highest national offices. Reserved parliamentary seats and quotas have also increased female representation while exposing women to decision-making spheres previously dominated by men.

Pakistan tops in holding biases against women: UN Report - The Economic Times

Economic Empowerment:

Financial independence strengthens women’s agency and negotiating power within families and communities. Only 24% of women in Pakistan participated in the labor force in 2020 (World Bank). A lack of skills and resources hinders income-generation opportunities for many rural areas. However, targeted initiatives bring promising results.

The Benazir Income Support Program provides cash transfers and interest-free loans to impoverished women to start small businesses or vocational training. This direct cash injection empowers over 5 million women annually. According to the United Nations, these subsidies lifted millions out of poverty and boosted school attendance among girls. The Punjab Women Business Incubator Network trains female entrepreneurs through mentorship and market linkages. Graduates report significant increases in average monthly incomes and confidence levels. Experts suggest economic participation as a driver for long-term social change.

FILE – In this Friday, March 8, 2019 file photo, a Pakistani woman takes part in rally during International Women’s Day in Islamabad, Pakistan. Provincial lawmakers in northwestern Pakistan have assailed women’s marches held earlier this month across the country marking the International Women’s Day as anti-Islamic. (AP Photo/B.K. Bangash, File)

Education for Equality:

Educating girls directly enhances gender parity while challenging stereotypes when imparted through equitable curricula and teaching methods. During primary education in Pakistan, gender gaps are almost nonexistent. However, disparities increase in secondary and higher education, were dropout rates spike for girls due to cultural norms. Madrassas disproportionately enroll boys compared to the formal secular system. Non-profits work to bridge these divides through community mobilization.

The Girls’ Access to Education Package utilizes school stipends, parent-teacher councils, and infrastructure improvements to boost retention. Sensitization programs train male and female teachers on inclusive pedagogy and balanced textbooks. Successful initiatives then scale up to influence policy and budget allocations. Higher education institutions implement gender studies and sensitization core courses. Such awareness-building fosters acceptance towards a more equal Pakistani society.

Investing In The Global Power Of Women

Education and Skill Development:

Education is crucial for empowering women because it gives them the knowledge, critical thinking skills, and self-assurance they need to participate fully in society. Pakistan has made a lot of progress in getting more women educated. However, there are still problems like gender differences, cultural norms, and limited access to good education. The gender gap in education can be closed by putting more emphasis on girls’ education, making available policies, and funding skill development initiatives. Pakistan’s social, economic, and technological progress can be significantly helped by having a population of educated and skilled women.

Female Empowerment in Pakistan

Health and Well-being:

Women’s health and well-being are crucial for their general empowerment. Numerous gender-based health issues exist in Pakistan, such as child deaths, restricted access to reproductive health care, and abuse against women. In the health industry, empowering women means ensuring access to affordable health care, reproductive rights, and safety from abuse. These problems can be solved by improving the health care system, offering services sensitive to gender, and raising knowledge through programs. This will give women the power to make choices about their health based on accurate information.

Future Prospects:

Pakistan struggles to strengthen its constitutional commitment to human rights and equal citizenship. Internal security issues due to extremism and terrorism pose obstacles. Widespread poverty further inhibits social change by prioritizing economic survival over rights and empowerment. However, continued legal reforms accompanied by improved law enforcement could significantly curb violence against women. Prioritizing women’s healthcare, maternity benefits, and safe workplaces through labour laws signals systemic progress. Furthering women’s inclusion in leading sectors like technology, media, and sports challenges the conservative status quo. The government must drastically increase investments in girls’ secondary and tertiary education. Tackling gender bias in public service roles like policing and judiciary also enhances the credibility of reform efforts. International support ensures continued pressure and financing of Pakistan’s national agenda. Monitoring anti-discrimination laws and policy implementation remain equally important. Sustainable partnerships strengthen networks of local activists fighting for women’s autonomy, dignity, and security to claim their fundamental rights as equal citizens. With concerted efforts across all fronts, Pakistan has the potential to realize a more progressive and equitable future where no person faces injustice due to their gender.

Women, Violence and Conflict in Pakistan | Crisis Group

Women, girls and Malala: Women’s rights and girl’s education in Pakistan:

Malala Yousafzai, the co-recipient of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize, has been advocating across the world for girls’ educational rights, even in the face of extremely difficult circumstances in her home country of Pakistan, where gunmen attempted to assassinate her in 2012.

Of course, women throughout the world face a range of challenges, and none more so than in the developing world. Levels of education, health care and political representation can be dauntingly low, and discrimination and sexual violence are all too frequent.

One of the most prominent cases of a country struggling with the competing dynamics of development, modernization, religion and tradition is indeed Pakistan, the sixth most populous country on earth. The World Economic Forum ranks the country as the least gender equitable in the Asia and Pacific region. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan reports many challenges women there face, including being “attacked and killed on account of asserting their rights to education, work and generally for choosing to have a say in key decisions in their lives.”

While the state of the educational system in Pakistan is dire, and the gap between education providers and the aspirations of the people huge , we believe that a window of opportunity is now open for initiating system-level reform. It is urgent to seize this opportunity, because population dynamics will make education a graver problem in the next decade if immediate steps are not taken. It is also important to recognize that reform must tackle all sectors of the education system — primary/secondary, higher education and vocational education — as Pakistan does not have the luxury to delay reform in one sector until the other sectors improve. Of course, reforming the system poses a great challenge, but strong examples of success within Pakistan remind us that it can be done. This may be the time for public, private, and philanthropic institutions and change — makers to pool their resources and initiate lasting system — wide change, which some of them have achieved, at least partially, in their respective domains.

Final Verdict:

Discrimination against women in Pakistan takes various forms. Women face challenges of inequality, injustice, and discrimination in every field of life, particularly in tribal regions of the country . Gender inequality continues to be entrenched in Pakistan, where women are deprived of their fundamental rights . The patriarchal system in Pakistan creates inequalities and restricts women’s social and economic opportunities . Despite an increase in the number of women in politics, gender essentialist stereotypes persist, and women’s substantive representation remains limited . Violence against women is a major issue, with various forms of abuse prevalent across all strata of society . These forms of discrimination include sexualizing, objectifying, subduing, and confiscating women, as well as physical, sexual, psychological, emotional, and financial abuse and exploitation .

While significant work lies ahead, Pakistan has taken initial strides in women’s empowerment and anti-discrimination. Real change hinges on overcoming patriarchal mindsets through holistic, long-term strategies promoting awareness, education, and equal opportunities. Legal reforms must be vigorously enforced with improved access to justice systems responsive to women’s needs. Developed nations share responsibility through responsible partnerships and aid. Non-profits advance gender parity by empowering women as agents of positive change. With political will and sustained multi-sectoral collaborations, Pakistan can uphold its constitutional guarantees to ensure universal human rights and dignity for all its citizens, regardless of gender.

Woman setting red chili

Increasing women’s participation in Pakistan’s labor force is beneficial to both economic growth and gender equality. Policy interventions must identify and alleviate barriers to women’s participation by improving access to finance, enhancing digital literacy, and addressing mobility challenges.

The lack of women’s participation in Pakistan’s economy is both a gender equity and developmental concern. The economic case for focusing on women’s economic empowerment is clear: if their participation was at par with men, Pakistan’s GDP could increase by 60% by 2025. Another estimate suggests that closing the gender gap in labor force participation could lead to a one-off 30% boost in GDP.

Globally, women form 38.8% of the labor force, but just around 20% in Pakistan, one of the lowest in South Asia. In fact, Pakistan fares poorly on all gender-related indicators. The Global Gender Gap Index Report 2022 ranked Pakistan at 145 out of 156 countries in terms of women’s economic participation and opportunity, at 135 for women’s educational attainment, 143 for women’s health and survival, and at 95 for political empowerment. The Global Wage Report 2018-2019 by International Labor Organization estimated the gender pay gap variation between men and women at 34%. Pakistan also shows the largest gender gaps amongst electrical democracies in voter turn-out, with men being 20% more likely to vote.

Gender discrimination is deeply rooted in the Pakistani society. To prevent gender discrimination, the entire society, especially women should be educated and gendered sensitized to improve the status of women in Pakistan.

1. Investing in gender equality can help build resilience to future shocks.

2. Unlocking women’s productivity requires a policy intervention on multiple fronts.

3. Women that are interested in work may face barriers in their job search.

4. Men and women face different mobility challenges.

5. Inclusiveness in growth demands women’s voices are heard.

Pakistani policymakers are also showing a growing commitment to the agenda of women’s empowerment. With more evidence on what works, Pakistan can make progress in empowering millions of women, lifting them and their households out of poverty.

Iqra MumtazFreelance Writer Gender Equality and Human Rights in Pakistanجنسی مُساوات اور اِنسانی حقوقलैंगिक समानता और मानवाधिकारWomen’s Rights Are Human Rights “Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women.”“When you lift up women, you lift up families, you lift up communities, you lift up economies – and you lift up your country.”“There’s something so special about a woman who dominates in a man’s world. It takes a certain grace, strength, intelligence, fearlessness, and the nerve to never take no for an answer.” Women’s Rights Are Human Rights: Attaining equality between women and men and eliminating all forms of discrimination against women are fundamental human rights and United Nations values. Women around
Gender Equality and Human Rights – By Irma Abbasi

Irma Abbasi
Freelance Writer

Images Credit:
Dawn News
The Express Tribune


Gender Equality and Human Rights
جنسی مُساوات اور اِنسانی حقوق
लैंगिक समानता और मानवाधिकार

“Gender equality is not a women’s issue, it’s a human issue. It affects us all.” 
“When we invest in women and girls, we are investing in the people who invest in everyone else.” 
“Gender equality is more than a goal in itself. It is a precondition for meeting the challenge of reducing
poverty, promoting sustainable development, and building good governance.” 

Illustration by Ahmed Amin

What is feminism?

Feminism is the belief that everyone should have equal rights and opportunities regardless of their gender. Simply put, feminism means a belief in gender equality, the belief that both male and females should receive equal treatment and not be discriminated against based on their gender.

Equality between men and women exists when both sexes are able to share equally in the distribution of power and influence; have equal opportunities for financial independence through work or through setting up businesses; enjoy equal access to education and the opportunity to develop personal ambitions, interests and talents; share responsibility for the home and children and are completely free from coercion, intimidation and gender-based violence both at work and at home.

Why should you care about feminism?

There are various ways in which gender inequality is affecting every individual of every age, even you.

For example, if you’re a girl, were you told that you can’t participate in a sport because it’s a “boys’ thing”? Did you ever feel that when you spoke up in class, the teacher barely acknowledged your answer whereas when the boys spoke up, they were praised and encouraged to speak? If yes, you know what gender discrimination is, and you know why feminism is important.

If you’re a boy, did people ever make fun of you when you wanted to play with your sisters’ doll houses? When you hurt your knee or scratched your elbow, were you ever told that “Boys don’t cry”, when in fact the pain was so much that the effort to not cry actually made it worse? If yes, you’ve felt the restraining influence of gender norms — what society considers male and female behavior, and the roles males and females are expected to take in society — and you know why feminism is essential for every individual’s freedom. Gender inequality is limiting the freedom of people to act as individuals; it is trapping them within a narrow range of behaviors when in reality we could all do so much more and be so much more, if we were free to act without the limitations imposed by gender bias.

Let's Break The Bias on International Women's Day | DISCOVER

Gender equality is a fundamental concept that encompasses the equal rights, opportunities, and
treatment of individuals regardless of their gender. It seeks to eliminate discrimination based on gender
and promote a society where men and women enjoy the same privileges and opportunities. In this article, we will explore the intricacies of gender equality, its distinction from human rights, and its critical role in the context of Pakistan.

Understanding Gender Equality:
Gender equality is a foundational principle advocating for the equal rights, opportunities, and treatment
of individuals, irrespective of their gender. It is rooted in the belief that all people, regardless of whether
they identify as male, female, or otherwise, should enjoy the same privileges and be free from
discrimination based on their gender.
At its core, gender equality strives to eliminate systemic and structural biases that perpetuate inequalities in various aspects of life. It goes beyond the mere concept of treating men and women equally, aiming to challenge societal norms, stereotypes, and expectations associated with gender roles.
Achieving gender equality involves providing equal opportunities for education, employment, and
participation in all societal spheres. This includes addressing discriminatory practices such as the gender
pay gap and limited access to certain professions based on gender. Empowering women is often a central
focus, acknowledging historical disparities and working towards dismantling barriers that hinder their
socio-economic advancement.
Challenging traditional gender roles is a crucial aspect of promoting gender equality. This entails breaking away from preconceived notions about the roles and responsibilities assigned to individuals based on their gender. In essence, gender equality advocates for a more fluid and egalitarian understanding of individual capabilities and aspirations.
On a global scale, gender equality is recognized as a key component for achieving broader societal goals,
including poverty reduction, sustainable development, and good governance. It is viewed not only as a
women’s issue but as a fundamental human rights imperative that benefits society as a whole.
Gender equality is a multifaceted concept that addresses not only the elimination of discrimination but
also the creation of an environment where everyone can reach their full potential, unrestricted by societal expectations tied to their gender. It stands as a guiding principle for building a fair, inclusive, and progressive society.

Gender equality and Human Rights
Gender equality and human rights are closely intertwined concepts, yet they have distinct focuses within
the broader framework of societal well-being. While both strive for fairness and justice, they address
different facets of the complex tapestry of human existence.
Human rights, as a comprehensive concept, encompass a wide range of fundamental freedoms and
protections inherent to all individuals by virtue of their humanity. These rights include civil, political,
economic, social, and cultural dimensions. Human rights are universal, inalienable, and indivisible,
applying to everyone regardless of their gender, race, religion, or other characteristics. The foundational
principles of human rights are enshrined in international declarations and treaties, serving as a moral and legal compass for global societies. On the other hand, gender equality is a specific subset of human rights that focuses on addressing disparities and discriminations based on gender. It is a commitment to ensuring that individuals, regardless of their gender identity, enjoy equal opportunities, treatment, and rights. Gender equality seeks to eliminate societal norms and structural barriers that perpetuate inequality between men and women. While human rights cover a broad spectrum, gender equality hones in on the unique challenges faced by individuals due to their gender, particularly addressing historical imbalances and systemic biases.
In essence, human rights provide the overarching framework that safeguards the dignity and well-being
of every individual, while gender equality zooms in on the specific inequalities and discriminations related to gender. Together, they form a symbiotic relationship, with gender equality representing a crucial aspect of the broader human rights agenda. Both concepts work hand in hand to create a society where every person, regardless of their gender, can live a life free from discrimination and enjoy the full spectrum of human rights.

How does gender equality relate to human rights?
Gender equality, besides being a fundamental human right, is essential to achieve peaceful societies, with full human potential and sustainable development. Moreover, it has been shown that empowering women spurs productivity and economic growth.

Importance of Gender Equality
Gender equality is a pivotal component of human rights, playing a crucial role in fostering a just, inclusive, and equitable society. Its importance within the realm of human rights lies in its ability to address historical imbalances, systemic biases, and discriminatory practices that have disproportionately affected individuals based on their gender.
First and foremost, gender equality is a matter of basic human dignity. Every individual, regardless of gender identity, deserves to be treated with respect and afforded the same rights and opportunities. By
upholding gender equality, societies uphold the fundamental principle that the inherent worth and rights of all individuals are equal, irrespective of gender.
Furthermore, gender equality is essential for realizing the full potential of human societies. When women and men have equal access to education, employment, and participation in societal decision-making, it results in a more dynamic and prosperous community. By harnessing the talents and contributions of all individuals, regardless of gender, societies can achieve greater innovation, economic growth, and social development.

Addressing gender equality is also an imperative for the advancement of other human rights. Women, in
particular, have historically faced barriers to education, economic opportunities, and participation in
political processes. Achieving gender equality ensures that women can fully exercise their rights to
education, work, and political engagement, thereby creating a more robust foundation for the realization
of broader human rights goals.
Moreover, gender equality is intricately linked to social justice. Combatting gender-based violence,
challenging discriminatory norms, and dismantling stereotypes contribute to the creation of a more just
and equitable society for everyone. It is not only a matter of rectifying historical injustices but also of
ensuring that future generations inherit a world where equality is a guiding principle.
In a nut shell, gender equality is integral to the realization of human rights because it is a cornerstone for
human dignity, societal progress, and social justice. By championing gender equality, societies pave the
way for a more harmonious and inclusive world where all individuals can live free from discrimination and fully exercise their rights.

Women, Violence and Conflict in Pakistan | Crisis Group

Gender Equality and Women’s Rights
Gender equality and women’s rights are intertwined concepts that address the specific challenges faced
by women in their pursuit of equal opportunities, treatment, and recognition. While gender equality
encompasses the broader goal of eliminating discrimination based on gender, women’s rights focus
specifically on safeguarding and advancing the rights of women within this context.
Women’s rights advocacy seeks to rectify historical imbalances and discriminatory practices that have
marginalized women in various spheres of life. This includes addressing issues such as unequal pay, limited access to education, and barriers to political participation. Ensuring women’s rights is not only a matter of justice but also a fundamental component of achieving comprehensive gender equality.
By championing women’s rights, societies contribute to the overarching goal of gender equality.
Empowering women, dismantling gender-based stereotypes, and providing equal opportunities create a
foundation for a society where both men and women can thrive without limitations imposed by traditional norms. The synergy between gender equality and women’s rights is essential for building a fair, inclusive, and equitable world where every individual, regardless of gender, can reach their full potential.

Gender Equality Images - Free Download on Freepik

Navigating Gender Roles in Pakistani Culture

Gender roles in Pakistani culture are deeply rooted in traditional norms and societal expectations,
outlining distinct expectations for men and women. These roles often shape individuals’ behaviors,
responsibilities, and opportunities based on their gender, contributing to a complex tapestry of social
In traditional Pakistani culture, men are typically assigned the role of breadwinners and are expected to
take on responsibilities related to providing for the family. This includes pursuing careers, managing
finances, and being the primary decision-makers. On the other hand, women are traditionally assigned
domestic roles, including caregiving, managing the household, and ensuring the well-being of the family.
Cultural norms in Pakistan often dictate the segregation of public and private spheres, reinforcing the idea that men primarily operate in the public domain, while women are confined to the private realm. This division of roles is deeply embedded in societal structures and influences various aspects of daily life, including education, employment, and social interactions.
However, it’s important to note that Pakistan, like many societies, is undergoing gradual changes in gender roles. Efforts towards women’s empowerment, education, and increased participation in the workforce have challenged traditional norms. Women in Pakistan are increasingly pursuing careers, accessing education, and actively engaging in public life, contributing to the evolution of gender roles in the culture. While progress is being made, navigating the balance between traditional expectations and contemporary aspirations remains a dynamic process in Pakistani society. Shifting gender roles reflect the ongoing dialogue between tradition and modernity, shaping the complex landscape of gender dynamics in the cultural context.

A Contemporary Overview of Gender Equality Rankings
Pakistan ranks 145th out of 146 countries on the World Economic Forum’s 2022 Global Gender Gap Index, and 161st out of 191 countries on the Human Development Report’s 2022 Gender Inequality Index. There is an urgent need to closely examine the factors contributing to this state of gender in Pakistan.
In the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Gender Gap Report 2023, Pakistan has been ranked 142 out of 146 countries — with a 57.5 per cent gender parity — the highest since 2006.
The annual report benchmarks the current state and evolution of gender parity across four key
dimensions: economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and
political empowerment.
In the report, which was released on Wednesday, Pakistan has been placed near the bottom of both the
regional and global rankings. Only Iran, Algeria, Chad and Afghanistan are below Pakistan. In 2022,
Pakistan ranked 145 out of 146.

Trends - Women Rights - DAWN.COM

Gender Inequality in Pakistan
Wealth inequality in Pakistan is overwhelming. According to a World Inequality Database report, the top
10% of Pakistani households earn 42% of the country’s income, while the bottom 50% earn only 13%.
With the current tsunami of inflation and low growth these figures are bound to aggravate further.
Income inequality is equally staggering where the rich live in a different world and the poor inhabit a
different planet. To put it into perspective the richest earn sixteen times more than the average income
for the poorest.
In Pakistan, income disparity is severe. The country’s Gini coefficient, which is a measure of income
inequality where zero represents perfect equality and one indicates perfect disparity, was 0.334 in 2018,
according to the World Bank. This is greater than the lower-middle-income country average of 0.313.
There are various explanations behind Pakistan’s high level of inequality. One key factor is the
concentration of wealth in the hands of a small elite that has profited from economic progress. This has
resulted in large income and wealth discrepancies amongst social groupings

Inequality is further exacerbated by limited access to education and healthcare. This has resulted in
considerable variations in outcomes across areas and social groupings. In Pakistan, the poorest people
frequently lack access to essential amenities such as clean water, sanitation, and power.
Furthermore, there are major gender differences in Pakistan, with women frequently encountering
discrimination and limited educational and employment prospects. As a result, there is a considerable
gender pay gap, with women earning less than males for doing the same jobs.
Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz in his book, “Price of Inequality” examines the economic and social
consequences of income inequality. While some inequality is unavoidable in any market economy, Stiglitz contends that the level of inequality that exists in many developed countries today is harmful to both individuals and societies.
According to Stiglitz, extreme inequality has a number of negative consequences. It can, for example,
result in lower social mobility because children from lower-income families are less likely to succeed than those from higher-income families. Furthermore, as those at the bottom of the income distribution
become increasingly frustrated with their lack of opportunity and influence, inequality can lead to social
and political unrest. Inequality, according to Stiglitz, can harm the economy by reducing demand for goods and services and making it more difficult for businesses to grow.
To reduce inequality, policies like progressive taxation, investment in education and infrastructure, and
increased access to healthcare and other services can help.

Unraveling Gender Discrimination in Pakistani Society
In Pakistani society, gender discrimination remains a pervasive challenge, deeply entrenched in cultural
norms and societal structures. Despite progress in various domains, women continue to face disparities
in opportunities, education, and employment. Traditional expectations often confine women to domestic
roles, limiting their access to education and economic opportunities. This gender-based discrimination is further exacerbated by unequal power dynamics, restricting women’s participation in decision-making
Gender-based violence is a distressing manifestation of this discrimination, with women experiencing
various forms of abuse, including domestic violence, harassment, and forced marriages. The cultural
stigma attached to reporting such incidents often perpetuates a culture of silence, hindering efforts to
address these issues effectively. While legal frameworks exist to safeguard women’s rights, implementation and enforcement gaps persist, contributing to the perpetuation of discriminatory practices. Efforts to combat gender discrimination in Pakistan involve challenging societal norms, promoting education and awareness on gender issues, and advocating for policy changes that ensure equal rights and opportunities for all genders. Addressing gender discrimination requires a multi-faceted approach, encompassing legal reforms, educational initiatives, and cultural shifts. Activism and awareness campaigns play a vital role in challenging ingrained biases and fostering a more inclusive society where individuals are judged based on their abilities rather than gender. Despite ongoing efforts, gender discrimination remains a significant societal challenge, underscoring the need for sustained commitment and comprehensive strategies to achieve meaningful and lasting change.

The Gender Gap in Pakistan
The gender gap in Pakistan persists as a complex challenge, encompassing disparities in various aspects
of life. Despite strides in certain areas, significant gaps remain in education, employment, and societal
participation. Educationally, girls often face barriers such as cultural norms, economic constraints, and limited access to schools, contributing to a noticeable gender gap in literacy rates. While efforts have been made to enhance educational opportunities for girls, challenges persist, affecting their overall academic and professional trajectories.
In the workforce, women encounter a substantial gender gap, with limited representation in leadership
roles and wage disparities compared to their male counterparts. Societal expectations and workplace
biases further contribute to these imbalances, hindering the full utilization of women’s skills and potential. Political representation also reflects a gender gap, with women often underrepresented in decision making bodies. Despite constitutional provisions promoting women’s political participation, there is a need for more inclusive policies and cultural shifts to bridge this gap.
Efforts to address the gender gap in Pakistan involve not only policy changes but also societal shifts in
attitudes towards gender roles. Encouraging equal opportunities, challenging stereotypes, and fostering
a supportive environment for women’s advancement are crucial steps toward achieving a more equitable
society. Bridging the gender gap requires sustained commitment and collaborative efforts from both
governmental and non-governmental entities to create lasting change.

Gender equality bills in Pakistan and Nigeria face religious backlash

Challenges and Paths to Equality

This discrimination and violence against women and girls, deeply rooted in the fabric of societies, is persistent and systematic. And in recent years, there has been a recurrence of scepticism against and denial of international standards concerning women’s human rights, gender equality and gender-based violence, while women and girls are increasingly raising voices to demand equality, including through feminist movements.

Despite much progress made in securing women’s rights globally, millions of women and girls continue to experience discrimination and violence, being denied of their equality, dignity and autonomy, and even a life.

From increasing women’s representation in leadership and decision-making to redistributing care-work and productive resources, progress towards a gender equal and sustainable future starts with taking action today.

This comprehensive exploration delves into the intricate gender dynamics in Pakistani society, highlighting the persisting challenges of gender discrimination and the gender gap. Despite progress in some areas, women continue to face disparities in education, employment, and societal participation. The educational sector reflects a gender gap, with obstacles hindering girls’ access to schooling. In the workforce, women encounter substantial imbalances, from limited leadership roles to wage disparities. Political representation also falls short, emphasizing the need for inclusive policies and cultural shifts. The article underscores the significance of challenging societal norms, promoting education, and advocating for policy changes to address gender discrimination effectively. Despite ongoing efforts, achieving gender equality demands sustained commitment and a multifaceted approach involving legal reforms, educational initiatives, and cultural shifts. The ultimate goal is to create a more inclusive society where individuals are judged based on abilities rather than gender, fostering lasting change in Pakistan’s gender landscape.

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How to support gender equality

As you can see, feminism matters. It’s not just women who suffer as a result of gender inequality but also their families, homes, workplaces and the world as a whole. There is an enormous, untapped potential in the world which cannot be accessed until we make sure that women get the same opportunities, respect and rights that men have; until we make sure that men, too, are free to break gender stereotypes and act freely as individuals.

We can change the world, but first we have to change ourselves. So start the process of change by focusing on the little details in your own life, e.g. instead of saying “policeman” or “businessman”, use terms suitable for and applicable to both males and females, such as “police officer” and “businessperson” respectively. This is important because language reflects our culture, and if we want to create a better culture, language is a great place to begin.

Now that you know what feminism is, how are you going to play your part in it? Be brave. Take the first step, start the first conversation, read the first book, raise the first question and join the first campaign. We have to start somewhere, anywhere — today, right now. We don’t have to wait for the International Women’s Day to begin our commitment — feminism is not about a specific day on which we all get together to advocate for the equality of the sexes; it’s about each of us standing up to fight inequality and take action — no matter how small or how big — every single day until we accomplish our mission of having a gender equal world.

Irma Abbasi Freelance Writer Images Credit: Dawn News AP The Express Tribune Freepik   Gender Equality and Human Rights جنسی مُساوات اور اِنسانی حقوق लैंगिक समानता और मानवाधिकार “Gender equality is not a women’s issue, it’s a human issue. It affects us all.”  “When we invest in women and girls, we are investing in the people who invest in everyone else.”  “Gender equality is more than a goal in itself. It is a precondition for meeting the challenge of reducing poverty, promoting sustainable development, and building good governance.”  What is feminism? Feminism is the belief that everyone should have equal rights and opportunities regardless of their gender. Simply put, feminism means a belief in gender equality, the belief that both male and females should

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