Volunteer Blog – Gender Inequality and Development in Pakistan

By Riva Taimur Khawaja
July 4, 2020

 

Economic development is one of the top priorities for developing states, one of the greatest factors that hinders this development is gender inequality, a term we’ve all heard of before, a characteristic residing within many societies, where males on average leading the social, economic, and political hierarchies. The goal of reducing gender inequality, for over two decades has been a top priority for many international organizations.

The eradication of gender inequality by the year 2015 had been mentioned in the third-millennium development goal, however it has past its deadline, the problem is still evident and the promise remains due. Today in Pakistan gender inequality is addressed through multiple platforms through multiple stances, and the awareness for gender inequality is at a greater rate than it has ever been before in the history of the state. Social media and marches such as the “aurat march” have in recent years been highlighting this issue and stirring the social and political patriarchal environment within the state. These efforts to bring forth the idea of gender inequality have been tough for the protestors as they have been receiving backlash from many religious right-wing conservatives.

As a progressive female Pakistani, I find it appalling that numerous people from all parts of society actually support such right wing ideas, using religion to justify negative connotations towards the idea of equal righta for women, by using terms such as “chadar aur char diwari” (meaning veiled and within their four walls) to highlight the place of a women within Pakistan. The extents to which the patriarchy will go to maintain their power over the other sex is astonishing.

There’s no denying that as a state we are flawed and have multiple other issues to deal with on a daily basis, and the idea of gender inequality amongst the hustle and bustle of the state may be overlooked. This however does not change the fact that gender inequality is a prevailing issue within our society and is acting as one of the root causes of development. The issue also highlights our flaws on the world stage. According to National Geographic, Pakistan has been listed as one of the world’s worst county to live in as a woman after Syria and Afghanistan (mind you these states are fragile and in a state of war, whereas Pakistan in comparison is relatively stable).

In order to develop as a nation, economically, socially and political gender inequality needs to be addressed and the use of religion to justify right wing ideologies needs to be resolved through education and only then will we able to see equality within the sexes and a boost in economic development.