With increased focus on women empowerment and gender equality, one would think things have changed for Pakistani women to some extent. Unfortunately, that is not true. World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Report 2018 came as a shock, where WEF labels Pakistan 2nd worst country in gender discrimination and lists Pakistan at 148thnumber, surpassing only war torn Yemen in term of gender inequality.
The report focuses on four aspects to determine the gender discrimination ratio in 149 countries:
- economic participation and opportunity
- educational attainment
- health and survival
- political empowerment
Score Card of Pakistan
According to the report, in economic participation and opportunity, Pakistan stands at 146th position.
In educational attainment aspect, 139th and in health and survival section Pakistan scored 145th position joining lower ranks with most Middle Eastern countries. From Political empowerment aspect, Pakistan ranks at 97thposition.
It is a known fact that Pakistani women face gender discrimination at work place. The report also confirms the fact that the gender disparity among managerial positions goes as high as 90% in Pakistan. This means that on most top managerial and administrative positions, Pakistani women only occupies 10% posts.
Men are preferred over women because of number of reasons. Most common reason that employers hesitate to recruit women candidates is due to their natural biological reproductive system. Getting pregnant becomes a serious hurdle in the career growth of woman especially a Pakistani woman.
There is little to no encouragement offered at work places for pregnant or lactating mothers. Even top companies don’t provide day care facilities to female employees rather women are looked down upon if they bring kids to work due to some inevitable reasons.
What president Alvi has to say?
“Evaluating health and education of women as well as economic opportunities, Pakistan is among worst performers on gender equality. We rank 148th out of 149 countries. This is alarming. I urge the Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary to please take note,”
he said in his message on social media.
Setbacks in three aspects globally
The report states that “after years of advances in education, health and political representation, women suffered setback in all three areas this year.”
WEF has been tracking gender gap ratio since 2006. In this report it is stated that over all gender gap has been reduced by 0.3% compared to last year and by 3.6% since 2006. Estimated time period to bridge the global gender gap is 108 years according to this year report. At current rate, work place gap can be bridged in 202 years.
In recent times, #metoo movement has also suffered a backlash when top employers at Wall Street America refused to recruit women employees started the campaign for gender segregation. Decision like these coupled with other numerous factors can seriously afflict the growth in terms of work place equality.
Some improvement has been witnessed in terms of wage equality in Pakistan and globally too.
However, the progress is too minor to create any drastic impact on the gender gap present in Pakistan. “This progress is insufficiently rapid to avoid the country being taken over by a number of faster-improving countries at the lower end of the index’s global ranking.”
The report states.
Gender gap in Artificial intelligence field was also studied in this year’s report and it was found out that women are in particularly low number compared to men. Only 22% work force in AI field comprises of women recruits.
“In addition to being three to one, women in AI are less likely to be positioned in senior roles.” Claims the report.
Different countries gap index
Nordic countries such as Iceland are ranked on top in term of gender equality followed by Norway, Sweden and Finland. In these countries men and women are considered equal in all four aspects and the gender gap between them is almost non-existent.
Pakistan along with Syria, Iraq and Yemen showed massive over lapse in terms of gender disparity and is ranked at the lower end of the index.
Shockingly, United States also witnessed a down fall of two positions compared to previous year. Standing at 51st position America witnessed “a decrease in gender parity at ministerial-level positions.”
Problem working women face in Pakistan
Following are some of the reasons why WEF labels Pakistan 2nd worst country in gender discrimination.
Catering to family needs
Most Pakistani women are forced to leave their career behind in order to cater to their family’s needs. Especially married women are pressurized in our society to an extent that they prefer to sit at home slaving away at house chores.
Reproductive nature of women
Even if you continue to work after marriage, once the children enters in your life then it becomes a constant battle to balance your work life and personal life. In patriarchal society like Pakistan, children are considered as only women’s responsibility. The “haw haye brigade” won’t let you sleep in peace if you are working women and leave your baby at home. You are labeled as selfish, materialistic and cruel mother who have no regard for her baby’s well-being.
This toxic culture is further strengthened by the lack of infrastructure for working mothers at work place. Working Women with kids have no where to go. Daycares in Pakistan are money making machines and not everyone can afford it. And even if you do, you are constantly worried about their well being and hygiene.
Lack of career growth
Working women also complains of lack of career growth and opportunities. As stated in the report, women are not preferred at top managerial positions which demotivate female employees so they stop working.
Let’s not forget sexual harassment that we women have to face when we step out of our houses. In a global report conducted by Thomas Reuters foundation Pakistan has been ranked as sixth most dangerous country for women. All these factors coupled with other factors such as lack of education, religious stigmas and social conditioning widens the gender gap further more.
Recent women empowerment movements are indeed a ray of light but we have to educate our masses and change the patriarchal mindset. If a half of country’s population is forced to sit back at home, how is that country supposed to excel and progress?