A Simply stating that Pakistan has a lot to do in order to bring gender parity in the country is an understatement. The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2016 is a true picture of where Pakistan really stands; second from last, at number 143 out of a total of 144 countries. Yemen is the only country below us, even Syria is a rank higher.

This is the second year in a row for Pakistan at the bottom of the gender parity report. The abysmal ranking is an accurate display of the true picture of a comparison between the two sexes. The status of women in Pakistan ranks poorly in all four factors taken into consideration in the report; health and survival, educational attainment, economic opportunity and political empowerment. The process of marginalising women in the country starts at the very beginning, and carries forward at the primary level of socialisation.

Lack of facilities and information available on women’s health, female infanticide, domestic violence, honour killings and a myriad of other crimes against women contribute to the poor health and survival of women in the country. There are very real impediments to educational attainment for young girls, ranging from parents keeping their daughters at home, to the lack of quality schools that cater to females. This, coupled with entrenched attitudes in a patriarchal society, make economic independence and opportunity an unachievable dream for most women.

Even the women that break from this skewed system and rise to the top have to face issues such as wage inequality. But one would think that the last factor, that of political empowerment for women, should not be too hard to attain for women in a country which had a female Prime Minister long before many developed nations. The government of PML-N is the one that deserves the most blame for this last problem. The fact that there are no female federal ministers and only two female state ministers is not because there are no capable women in the assemblies, but because the ruling party has not deemed gender equality to be a priority.

Reports like this should be a source of shame for both the government and the country at large, but the past year has shown that Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) are the only ones genuinely looking to improve the lot of women in the country. But they are fighting a losing battle without state support. The only way any of these issues can be mitigated is if the government takes a more active role in women empowerment, and takes the necessary steps to decrease the gender gap in Pakistan.