July 25, 2019
Author: Sikander Bizenjo
In the realm of education, you always hear the phrase “Article 25-A”, an article within the constitution of Pakistan that deals with free and quality education. By law, it is promised by the Government of Pakistan to provide free and quality education to every child aged 5 to 16. Notice the word “every”? That is every child, male or female, without any discrimination whatsoever. However, ground realities in Pakistan paint a rather a
Human Rights Watch reports that over 22 million children in Pakistan are out of schools, majority of them girls. The reports further asserts that 32% of the girls drop out after primary school and by the grade 9 th , less than 15% of girls are still enrolled in a school. The impact of this failure from the government is far-reaching and on generations to come. These girls, when economically dependent on male counterparts are often most marginalized and vulnerable segment of the society. Hence, we are ranked as a second worst country by World Economic Forum in their gender equality index. Not only are they vulnerable, but also isolated from making contributions for the betterment of the country. Furthermore, Pakistan is currently one of the youngest countries in the world with over 60% of its population under 30; yet, the contributions from half of this population, i.e. from females, is minimal.
The paucity of education to females creates additional barriers for women to vertically climb the social mobility ladder. This is evident from the fact that economic contributions from women in Pakistan are far lesser than our neighboring countries. An IMF study in 2018 titled, “Pursuing Women’s Economic Empowerment” claimed that Pakistan’s
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) would boost by at least 30% if gender gap – in terms of education – is closed.
Therefore, to progress sustainably and compete with the world, it is imperative to close the gender gap. Climbing up from the second-worst country, it will certainly be a daunting task but not insurmountable. As founder of Pakistan, Quaid-e-Azam, once remarked, “No nation can rise to the height of glory unless your women are side by side with you.”