DESPITE all the progress that the modern world has made, the harsh reality is that women continue to draw the short straw in social as well as corporate settings. This is particularly true of Third World countries like Pakistan where discrimination starts early in life, with social norms and practices, gender-based stereotypes, laws and policies adding to the momentum all the time.

The United Nations has set the agenda for all countries to achieve gender equality by 2030, but even that sounds too early for it to happen on the global scale. Currently, on a list of 153 countries, Pakistan’s ranking is a dismal 151, highlighting the severity of the problem. It is no wonder that Pakistan has been ranked the sixth most dangerous country for women.

According to media reports, there were over 51,000 cases of violence against women reported between January 2011 and June 2017. The conviction rate in such cases was quite low at about 2.5 per cent. The patriarchal mindset of our society is rightly criticised as we are not progressing towards gender equality in any meaningful way.

According to the global gender gap index 2020, only 12pc women happen to be in ministerial positions and, among parliament members, their share stands at 20pc. This showcases the lack of women in leadership and decision-making positions. This has resulted in lopsided policies.

No individual can bring about a solution alone, but together we can surely make a significant difference. After all, gender parity is not impossible to achieve. It is an arduous but attainable goal that requires immense focus and determination as well as perseverance to achieve. But the effort is worth every moment of it. When, and if, we eventually do reach that stage, it has the potential to be one of our greatest victories.

Alizeh Arshad & Lubna Kamani
Karachi

Published in Dawn, March 10th, 2021

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