Pakistan is ranked 148th out of 149 countries by the World Economic Forum in the Global Gender Gap Index 2018. This rating can be challenged by looking to the abysmal state of affairs of women in countries like Syria which is war wrecked and India where every 20 minutes one women is raped, and at the same time these are placed above Pakistan. However, the fact that some serious feminine issues are prevalent in our society cannot be contested.

Generally female siblings have to take their brothers to court for getting hold of their proportionate shares in the inheritance. As this leads to deterioration of kinship ties and many women cannot afford that due to emotional attachment with family members and regressive cultural values, they surrender their portions in property of their own volitions. Sent on Hajj pilgrimage or given some expensive gifts/cash by brothers, usually they are defrauded of their fair share.

Domestic violence is rampant. While the KP Provincial Assembly couldn’t adopt anti domestic violence law yet, other provinces have difficulties in implementing these in letter and spirit. Moreover, time and again salaries of women crisis centres’ employees are delayed which indirectly affect the victims.

Domestic workers are predominantly females who go through immense pains to make a living. Neither they know of, nor do they claim fundamental and basic rights. They are underpaid and the way employers behave towards them is mostly extremely ruthless.

The fact that most of the honour killing victims are women really gives a black eye to our society. Not that slaying of males can be justified but one wonders why only females are targeted. It manifests signs of male chauvinism deeply rooted in our culture.

Early marriages is another stigma in removal of which the state has utterly failed. Forcing a child to enter a marriage is tantamount to ruining her career she aspires to embark on. Life may be meaningless for her anymore. In all probability she may abandon her ambitions against her own will owing to different reasons. Many talented and intelligent children couldn’t exploit their full potential because their intellect is either suppressed or never allowed to be evolved owing to early marriages.

Also, in terms of education they have been a low priority for the government. Female literacy rate is 45% as compared to 69% of males. Fourty-nine percent girls of school going age are out of school as against 40% of such boys. Only 13% of the girls make it to the 9th class in Pakistan according to Human Rights Watch report. Though constituting almost half population, the number of girls’ schools and colleges are much below than those for boys.

Another grim reality is the difference in wages paid to males and females for the same job. For example, visit any private school and one would find that generally a male teacher teaching a particular subject to a particular class gets almost 25% higher salary than a woman teaching the same subject to the same class while both possessing the same qualification and expertise. This is a brutal exploitation of her toil-and-moil. The employers know that due to societal norms it is difficult for females to go from place to place and fiercely quest after another job, and they take a full advantage of this. This was acknowledged by the World Bank report Pakistan@100 which revealed that Pakistan enjoys world’s highest gender wage gap.

In some parts of the country through a systematic process women were not allowed to vote in 2013 general elections with the authorization of local leaderships of all prominent political parties. They were categorically denied their right to vote in the entire Lower Dir and parts of other districts. It’s pleasing that now the door has been closed permanently on such restrictive practice with Election Act 2017 empowering ECP to declare elections in any constituency null and void when women turnout is less than the 10% of the total votes cast there.

Gender parity does not suggest that men and women are equivalent to each other in every respect. The fact is, neither all men are identical nor are all women coequal. Some are poor, some are affluent, some strong, and some weak. Similarly, very small number of women would opt to join army when we compare it to their tendency for professions in gynecology and other women dominant fields. Thus gender parity cannot be measured from the numbers in parliament, seats on boards of directors of companies and institutions, share in national labour etc.

Actually the environment in which both males and females are provided with absolutely equal opportunities should be regarded to have achieved 100% gender parity, where women don’t need to have allocated quotas in National Assembly and Senate but could acquire party tickets and contest elections in their constituencies with the same ease as their male counterparts do. The same goes for all other matters. There is no special quota for Muslims in the UK’s cabinet or any exceptional arrangement to elect a mayor of London belonging to a minority. Still there are obvious examples of Sajid Javed and Sadiq Khan.

In last I’ll quote one of my female students. When asked, “Why it is grandmothers who mourn birth of a female child in our society the most? She replied, “Because, it’s them who know what agonies are the newborn going to go through in their lifetime”.