ISLAMABAD: Women empowerment has remained a challenge due to low literacy rate and their limited participation in the labour work as 48pc of women in Pakistan are illiterate, 79pc are not part of the labour force and only 10pc can make independent decisions about their own health.
This was stated by speakers at the media coalition meeting organised on the eve of World Population Day with the theme, “Unleashing the Power of Gender Equality: Uplifting the Voices of Women and Girls to Unlock Our World’s Infinite Possibilities”.
Ummi Kalsoom, Senior Project Officer at the Population Council, stressed the media to raise awareness of their issues through their news stories.
“Media should highlight the issues to remove all forms of discrimination against girls, in terms of diet, education and healthcare. Girls should be treated as equal to boys and must be educated to plan their families according to their resources. Media should play its part in ensuring enrollment of all out of school girls and incentivization of their education till secondary level, as 37pc girls remain out of school in the country. Media can also hold governments responsible to ensure service delivery of family planning services besides raising awareness to enhance male engagement in family planning,” she said.
Speaking to the media on challenges of women empowerment in Pakistan, Fauzia Yazdani, Social and Public Policy Adviser (Gender and Women Empowerment) said “One of the most important ways to enhance women’s rights is to increase their access to education and employment. When women are educated and employed, they are more likely to be able to make their own choices about their lives and contribute to the economic development of the country. Research indicates that lack of women empowerment contributed to the country’s unsustainable population growth as educated and employed women are empowered to better plan their families”.
In his welcome remarks Dr Ali Mir, Senior Director Programmes, Population Council, said: “Pakistan amongst the lower rank of the Global Gender Gap Index 2022. Pakistan’s gender gap is particularly wide in the areas of economic participation and opportunity, and political empowerment. For example, women make up only 21pc of the labour force in Pakistan, and they hold only 20pc of seats in the National Assembly.”
He urged journalists to actively contribute to achieving development targets by simultaneously focusing on education, healthcare (including family planning), and female workforce participation.
Participants of the meeting pledged to use media as an effective tool in promotion of women empowerment to ensure that girls exercise their rights and have choices to be able to balance their families’ resources and family size in order to reach their full potential.
They also agreed to play a positive role in increasing access of reproductive health information and services to married couples in Pakistan as media campaigns could impress upon the governments to ensure availability of contraceptive and trained staff at all health outlets. Media Coalition Members pledged to highlight the need of legislation on pre-marital counselling, family planning, enhanced role of men in girls education, women empowerment and discouraging child marriage.
Published in Dawn, July 11th, 2023