“No nation can rise to the height of glory unless your women work side by side with you; a crime that our women are shut up within four walls of their houses as prisoners.” (Quaid-e- Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah 1942).
Gender discrimination as the name suggest is the unfair treatment of women, denial of opportunities and violation of their rights. It means that distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex is called gender discrimination. Despite the numerous gender discrimination laws and court rulings, women are subjected to un-equal treatment in all spheres of life all over the world. Even in advanced country that claims to be champions of women’s right, gender discrimination is present in one form or another especially in the field of economics. Women are not compensated fairly for their efforts and contributions at work place.
Gender disparity is a worldwide phenomenon. This disparity is not only with respect to opportunities and resources but also in rewards and exists in all regions and classes. When high class use female as show piece that too is gender discrimination. Females experience overt and subtle gender discrimination to some extent nearly at every stage of their career. Women have to achieve a successful career at the cost of their family life. We shall explore the current situation regarding gender discrimination in Balochistan.
Various Angles of Disparity
Gender equity promotes economic growth. It can be assessed in terms of education, health care, economic, political, legal and social rights provided to the members of both genders. The World Bank has recommended investment in female education as a strategy for development and poverty reduction in developing countries as this yield high social rate of returns. For empowering women in all walks of life, the most basic and essential factor is education. Access to higher education is a priority for all countries, and where females have apparently attained parity, areas where they are still under-represented need to be addressed in both quantitative and qualitative terms.
Females are likely to experience overt and subtle gender discrimination Lund reports female representation at 33.8 % for lecturers and 9.9 % for professors in Commonwealth countries. In developing countries, for example Uganda, Nigeria, Pakistan, Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Zambia, gender disparity tends to be greater.
Gender discrimination and violence against women is common practice in society. A study has been conducted in one of the province Baluchistan (Pakistan). The population of the study area is on the basis of different social classes. Media industry is flourishing rapidly in Pakistan and every social class has access to it. The first objective of the study was to analyze the people’s perception of different social classes about women empowerment, socio-cultural and religious impacts on women empowerment in the study area. The second objective was to analyze the media policies and media role for women empowerment. Electronic media like TV channels can educate the women about their rights because due to low literacy rate majority of the population cannot read or write. Those who cannot read and write but they can listen through radio and T.V. Here we need to take initiative at channel’s level which are private and autonomous to speak about issues. Unfortunately anchors and channel owners consider education is least concerned topic to be discussed. They will happily defame Pakistan due to atrocities related to female in all areas but won’t speak up on basic tool to fix such atrocities. Only tool is education or awareness about gender equality teachings in Islam and constitution of Pakistan. It’s quite obvious that which agenda our 90% popular private media is following and Pakistan is getting from it. It’s really an honor for Pakistan if get any Oscar or Nobel Prize but just give a look that which areas been chosen for these awards by international world. Sharmin Obaid got Oscar on gender discriminatory issue and Nobel Prize for Malala is also on gender discrimination. Now, just give single reason why Edhi was not allowed to go freely in America although EDHI services are providing help in America in any hurricane or disaster. if Pakistan is third world country then first world is getting services from a very poor man of this third world country but when time comes to recognize the services they recognize only darkness. They recognize Mukhtaran Mai, gender and race base issues and even give Nobel to a 14 year old girl who got hit by American base weapon in Pakistan by American created Taliban. Now see that if Pakistan would not take their issues seriously and would not address by their own self then international world will pick few of them and will interpret by their own means.
First, we need to accept that there are issues. Status of women in Pakistan is one of the systematic gender subordination even though it varies considerably across classes, regions, and the rural/ urban divide due to uneven socio-economics development and the impact of tribal, feudal and capitalist social formations on women’s lives. We also need to give value to Pakistan’s traditional and cultural customs but any value and custom cannot be greater than God and then state’s constitution.
The constitution of Pakistan 1973 protects the rights of women and some article and clauses related to women rights are:
The Constitution of Pakistan enshrines the principles of equality and non-discrimination. According to Article 25 of the Constitution of Pakistan, all citizens are equal and are entitled to equal.
There is nothing which can prevent the State from making any special provision for the protection of women and children in Pakistan if they really have the will to do so. Promotion of local Government institutions is good idea if first educate in true manners rather to give task to any UN base or western NGO to educate our local people about gender discrimination. Because, we need to draw a fine line between western influence and pseudo Islamic disguise which is ruining more day by day. Equality of citizens and all citizens are equal before law and are entitled to equal protection of law. There shall be no discrimination on the basis of sex. Pakistan constitution defines equality on gender bases. Then what makes us to let the 54% population of Pakistan in darkness?
The State shall encourage local Government institutions composed of elected representatives of the areas concerned and, in such institutions, special representation will be given to peasants, workers and women. Full participation of women in national life. Steps shall be taken to ensure full participation of women in all spheres of national life.
Although, People developed the same narrow-minded view of the religion and mistreat women by not giving them their basic rights. But still Pakistan is not ranked at last or near to last level of gender discrimination because here India is far more ahead as per their own feticide and per hour rape ratio in India. Let’s not take it as an excuse to take Pakistani issues for granted under look.
The Balochistan Scenario
In Balochistan province, gender discrimination is more rampant in both rural as well as urban areas. The cause of gender discrimination in Balochistan are low education rate, poor socio-economic conditions, societal trends, religious trends, culture and participation in decision making. In Balochistan, girls are not allowed to pursue education, denied good healthcare and their social relationships and social behavior is also controlled by men. Illiteracy, rigid customs, tradition and influence of religious personalities are the main causes of gender discrimination in Quetta. I went to Balochistan to meet respondents to observe their first and direct reaction towards gender discriminatory issue, that illiterate respondents had more rigid views about gender discrimination and were more under the influence of religious personalities. In fact, majority of respondents desire an end to gender discrimination considered it a cause of socio economic deprivation in the province. Moreover, side area people even considered me as western agent who came to indoctrinate their women. Here only one question raised in my mind that why Quran came 1500 years back because only Islam was a religion who gives rights to women’s and even animals. Islam’s essence tells which is quite obvious that education is for all and Islam started with word IQRA. Then west adopted this revolutionary idea that everything and life must start with this word IQRA (learn). Now pseudo mullah took the legacy of Islam and only they are contractors of Islamic Preaching by their own established feudal system.
In the province of Balochistan male domination is quite strong and so it is the oppression of women. Discrimination against women is the strongest in the tribal areas and even in the big cities like Quetta where women are deprived of their basic rights in every sphere of life decision regarding their lives are taken without their consent. One basic reason for gender discrimination is the rigid culture and strict customs of Balochistan that keep the women suppressed and unaware of their rights. By land mass, Balochistan is the largest province in Pakistan and is richest in natural resources too but it is also least developed and most backward province in Pakistan with the lowest literacy rate. The birth of a son is considered a blessing and is celebrated while a daughter is a burden. Wife beating is common and is considered a method of keeping women under control. Daughters are married off at an early age to men much older than them. Women are confined to their houses and can only go out when escorted by a male member of the family.
Women in Quetta city are fortunate as they are taken to hospitals for child birth, in the rest of the province babies are delivered at home or taken to the hospitals only if the condition becomes too serious. Women are generally considered weak not only physically but also mentally. They are never included in decision making and often the consent of the girl is not sought when her marriage is arranged. The opinions of women are disregarded. Positive attributes such as intelligence, smartness and strength are associated with men. Gender discrimination is largely responsible for poverty and backwardness in Balochistan. In today’s world economic progress is only possible when men and women work side by side. Women constitute approximately half of the population of Balochistan and by denying them education the possibility of progress is reduced by half. As half of the population is not allowed to make use of its talents, Balochistan has not been able to progress as compare to other provinces of Pakistan.
The people usually claim that girl’s education does not brings in returns but they are wrong. Educating women is beneficial for the whole generation; an educated woman can bring up her children better and also contribute towards the family income if needed. Denial of health care facilities has resulted in greater maternal deaths psychological diseases; it also negatively affects the health of children.
Even more than 70% of adult female in Pakistan do not know precautionary measures of child birth and even cannot use sanitary precautions during menstrual cycle. If any shop tries to sell sanitary pads in those areas then many traditional blames come up with brutal activity to close that shop or selling of sanitary pads for women. Pakistan is a land of Islamic Ideology and Islam comes from cleanness of soul and body and then what makes these Muslims to let their women dirty even in those sensitive days which cause major illness and end up with horrible diseases.
People still believe that investing in education of girls is a waste of resources. The literate believe that girls should be educated and they are entitled to better healthcare facilities. However, when it comes to decision making, both groups are of the opinion that women are in-capable of making decisions and therefore the men in their families take decisions. Very few people are in favor of women pursuing a career. According to data the narrow-minded views of people who claim to be an authority on religion are largely responsible for this discrimination. These negative projections reinforce restrictions on women and are used by men to justify discrimination.
Women’s participation in democratic practices, the exercise of their right to vote freely and without fear to their safety, is still not guaranteed. One reason is that they are already behind men in terms of experience and visibility in the public sphere, which includes their participation in education at all levels. A second reason is that there exists political parties that believe women should not vote and, in some areas, women are physically barred from visiting polling stations. This is not the norm across the country, however, but nonetheless it serves as a means of intimidation affecting women all over. According to the electoral rolls of Election Commission of Pakistan of September 2017, From the 97.02 million citizens registered as voters, 54.60 million are men (56.27%) and 42.42 million (43.73%) women. The gender gap in voter registration has now gone up to 12.17 million from 10.97 million in March 2013.
The main focus was to know the views of different people about women empowerment and to analyze the media role for women issues. In the study area, it was found that women belonging to upper class families are more empowered and their status is much better than middle class and lower-class families. Men belong to upper class and middle-class families were in favor that women should be empowered. Worst condition of women was in Wadera class families and lower-class families because women status in these families was just like a slave. Educated male respondents agreed that media can play a positive and constructive role for the betterment of women status but contribution of TV channels is not satisfactory in this regard. Only educated women gave the response in favor of TV channels that TV channels are highlighting women problems and that they are getting limited information from TV channels. Mostly respondents from urban areas did not have any idea about the importance of TV channels and TV was only a source of entertainment for them.
- There is a need for the political parties (currently drafting or revising their election manifestos) to include a section stating their parties stand on and how the government envisions its implementation.
- The post-elections (2018) incoming parties or coalitions forming the federal and provincial governments need to set up working committees at both federal and provincial levels, comprising both government and civil society to go through large number of written reports, suggestions and recommendations to overcome gender discrimination.
- They need to dust off the National Plan of Action (NPA), urgently undertake a review to list the actions taken or not taken thus far; and prioritize future actions for preparing the Plan of Implementation in close consultation with the federal ministries, provincial line departments and civil society activists and organizations.
- There is a demonstrated need to form a strong National Commission on the status of women and work with the national machinery dealing with women’s concerns. nThe national machinery for women needs to look very closely with the Ministry of Human Rights (MoHR).
- There is a need to remove all the duplication of effort, A huge amount of sifting and reviewing is required, by person/s with an institutional memory and a working knowledge of the state centric NGO’s or institutions at province level.
- Each federal line ministry/ provincial department needs to hire and fund its own Gender Focal Point (GFP) from within its own annual operational/recurrent budget, and preferably from within its own sectoral/technical expertise (e.g. women agriculture experts), to promote government ownership and mainstreaming of women’s sectoral issues.
- Needs to strengthen its macro-level policy, advocacy, monitoring, evaluation, reporting and catalytic functions. It must move away from wasting staff time and resources in formulating, developing, funding, executing and reporting on small sectoral service delivery projects.
- The federal and provincial governments urgently need to address the alarming increase in the feminization of poverty through strong measures aimed at women and the rural landless peasants, including education, training, credit, asset ownership, and job creation.
- Need for a systemic overhaul of the current education system and its delivery mechanism, particularly the public-school curriculum and teachers training.
- The critically important need is for the federal and provincial governments to stop perceiving women through the narrow prism of development sector.
- Further, Women are half of the entire country population, deserving of equal respect, rights, opportunities and outcomes, access to law and justice, freedom from hunger, want, discrimination, violence and coercion, and equality in the eyes of the law. All the stakeholders must recognize and count women as equal participants in, and equal beneficiaries of, the national development process and not just as passive recipients.
- Equal educational opportunities should be provided to women,; skill-training facilities should be provided to them; women should be given equal right and power of decision-making; there is a need to bring equality in resources distribution; equal opportunities of participation should be given to both genders in various activities; equal opportunities should be given to the women inside the family affairs as well as outside the family; equal opportunities should be provided to women in different jobs. It will be helpful in poverty alleviation.
- In fact, majority of the respondents desired an end to gender discrimination and considered it a cause of socio-economic deprivation in the province. Study explores the various issues women face in their daily lives in education, health care, social relationships and decision making in context of gender discrimination.
- Finally, the media needs to look at gender-based issues and spread knowledge base awareness to get the external blackmail out and let the people educate about pseudo rituals and their actual rights.