After losing 35 spots, Pakistan now stands at the third last position on the Gender Gap Index 2020. A country that was once (2006) placed at 112th position, now retains one of the lowest spots when it comes to providing economic opportunity, education, health, and political empowerment to women in the country. This index reveals the social, political and economic fabric of the society that constantly aims to subjugate women through direct and indirect decisionmaking.

While the education sector has improved manifolds and is now somewhat dedicated to the enrolment of female students, that does not translate in equal economic opportunities. At this point, women make up only one-quarter of the labour force in Pakistan. This is because neither the laws of the country nor the environment is conducive to a female workforce. The conversations required for pushing for such change are also largely absent, and that is a direct result of the fact that only five per cent of senior and leadership roles are held by women in the country. When that is the case, female agendas do not make it to the parliament, evidence of which is the backlash that the Aurat March itself gathered.

The government of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) needs to identify the issues of women and prioritise them as we move into a new era for Pakistani democracy. As of January this year, there are only three women in the 25-member cabinet. That in itself reflects how sidelined the agenda of women is. Any amount of negligence will push a large chunk of the population further back and institutionalise patriarchy. It is important to engage relevant stakeholders to improve the current situation, open up new avenues for women that will not only improve the social fabric of the society but also result in women being offered equal economic opportunities.