SYED KAMAL HUSSAIN SHAH
Women’s education in Pakistan is a fundamental right of every female citizen, according to article thirty-seven of the Constitution of Pakistan. Gender discrepancies still exist in the educational sector. According to UNDP report, Pakistan ranked 120 in 146 countries in terms of Gender-related Development Index, and in terms of Gender Empowerment Measurement (GEM) ranking, it ranked 92 in 94 countries.Education is a critical input in human resource development and essential for the country’s economic growth. It increases the productivity and efficiency of individuals, and it produces a skilled labor force that is capable of leading the economy towards sustainable growth and prosperity.
The progress and wellbeing of a country largely depends on the education choices made available to its people. It can be one of the most powerful instruments of change. It can help a country to achieve its national goals via producing minds imbued with knowledge, skills, and competencies to shape its future destiny. The widespread recognition of this fact has created awareness on the need to focus upon literacy and elementary education, not simply as a matter of social justice but more to foster economic growth, social well-being, and social stability.
In year 2006, the literacy rate in urban areas was recorded as 58.3% while in rural areas it was 28.3%, and only 12% among rural women. According to the government of Pakistan, total enrollment level of pre-primary in public sector was 4,391,144. Out of 4,391,144 pre-primary students, 2,440,838 are boys, and 1,950,306 are girls. It shows that 56% of enrolled students are boys, and 44% are girls.
Further breakdown of these statistics into urban and rural enrollment levels reveals almost similar percentage of enrollment among boys and girls, i.e. in rural schools 57% are boys and 43% are girls. Private sector; There is a huge sector of private education in Pakistan. According to the government of Pakistan, 2,744,303 pre-primary students are enrolled in private schools. Among them, 1,508,643 are boys, and 1,235,660 are girls. It shows that 55% of enrolled kids are boys and 45% are girls. Of the total number, 39% students are in rural areas, and the percentage of enrolled boys and girls in rural areas are 58% and 42% respectively.
The total enrollment in primary public sector is 11,840,719; 57% (6,776,536) are boys, and 43% (5,064,183) are girls. 79% of all the primary students in Pakistan are enrolled in rural schools, and the gender enrollment ratios are 59% and 41% for boys and girls respectively in rural Pakistan. Higher secondary; the overall ratio seems to equalize among boys and girls in higher secondary education.
Women’s education is so inextricably linked with the other facets of human development that to make it a priority is to also make change on a range of other fronts; from the health and status of women to early childhood care; from nutrition, water and sanitation to community empowerment; from the reduction of child laborand other forms of exploitation to the peaceful resolution of conflicts.
The founder of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, was known to have a positive attitude towards women. After the independence of Pakistan, women groups and feminist organisations started by prominent leaders like Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah began working to eliminate socio-economic injustices against women in the country.
In 1988, Benazir Bhutto became the first female Prime Minister of Pakistan, and the first woman elected to head a Muslim country but since its independence, the educational status of Pakistani women is among the lowest in the world.
Women in Pakistan have progressed in various fields of life such as politics, education, economy, services, health and many more. In politics and activism, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is planning to increase the percentage of women in the police force. Transgender issue is also there in Pakistan. In most South Asian nations, a concept of third gender prevails where members of the same are referred to those who are neither men norwomen.
In 2009, the Pakistan Supreme Court ruled in favour of a group of transvestites. The landmark ruling stated that as citizens they were entitled to the equal benefit and protection of the law and called upon the government to take steps to protect transvestites from discrimination and harassment. Pakistan’s chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry was the architect of major extension of rights to Pakistan’s transgender community during his term.
Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) has announced to provide free education for transgenders across the country.The university, that offers distance learning, will offer education from matriculation to PhD as well as vocational training to transgenders without any charges. The students will be able to choose any subject they wish to study. The students who will enrol in the programme won’t be required to come to university and educational equipment will be provided to them at their doorstep.
Many other programs like prime minister training program transgender in it. Offering them free education and training, we hope to make them a part of mainstream society.