This year’s 16 days of activism to end violence against women has just come to a close. This time allowed us to reflect on the progress which has been made in Pakistan and throw a spotlight on what remains to be done.
Change is happening. Reserved seats for women in national and provincial governments have been a real success, putting more and more women in positions of power, who are championing women’s rights and pushing for more legislation.
The Prevention of Anti-Women Practices Act and Acid Control and Acid Crime Prevention Bill were unanimously passed in the Senate, promising punishments for those who force women into marriage, deny women their inheritance, or harm them with acid. Legislation is already in place to protect women from harassment at work. Important legislation on domestic violence is pending. Passing legislation is a critical first step, now we must all continue to push for it to be effectively implemented and to change some entrenched mindsets.
Despite this progress, Pakistan is still bottom of the league (ranked 133 out of 135 countries) in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap report published last month. And earlier this summer, Pakistan was labelled the third most dangerous place in the world for women by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, due to the prevalence of domestic violence, so-called ‘honour’ killings, forced marriages, rape and physical and sexual abuse.
Millions of women in Pakistan do not have access to basic education, health care, family planning, finance, or jobs. Two-thirds of women can’t read or write.
As well as being unfair, Pakistan is missing out on the talent and productivity of half its population, holding back economic growth and opportunity: more equal countries have higher rates of economic growth.
The founder of Pakistan, Jinnah, didn’t think gender inequality was acceptable even in the 20th century and neither does the UK; that’s why the UK’s Department for International Development...
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