Educating our women has never been more vital than it is today
“Investing in women’s and girls’ education is one of the most effective ways to reduce poverty.”
Empowerment means moving from enforced powerlessness to a position of power. There is no doubt that education is an essential means of empowering women with the knowledge, skills and self-confidence necessary to fully participate in the development process. Sustainable development is only possible when women and men enjoy equal opportunities to reach their potential. Unfortunately in Pakistan women are still mostly deprived of education.
According to available stats, one in ten of the world’s primary age children who are not in schools live in Pakistan. That means that when it comes to the global ranking for out of school children, Pakistan is placed second from the top. According to UNESCO, 30 percent of Pakistanis live in extreme educational poverty – that means they’ve received less than two years of education.
In Pakistan, there are about 19.5 million children of the primary age group, out of which 6.8 million are out of school. Approximately 60 percent of these are females.
At least seven million children are not in primary schools. Let’s put that in perspective: that’s roughly the population of the city of Lahore.
Three million will never see the inside of a classroom at all.
In Pakistan, girls face some of the highest barriers to receiving education. It has been estimated that nearly 62 percent of out of school girls are unlikely to ever enrol in schools as compared to 27 percent of boys in the country. 43 percent of women face religious discrimination at workplace, educational institutions and even their own neighbourhoods.
Let’s put that in context.
Women and girls experience multiple intersecting inequalities. Structural barriers in the economic, social, political and environmental spheres produce and reinforce these inequalities. Obstacles to women’s economic and political empowerment, and violence against women and girls, are barriers to sustainable development and the achievement of human rights, gender equality, justice and peace. Across much of the world, either by law or custom, women are still denied the right to own land or inherit property, obtain access to credit, attend school, earn income and progress in their profession free from job discrimination.
Women have the potential to change their own economic status and that of their communities and countries in which they live yet usually women’s economic contributions are unrecognised, their work undervalued and their promise undernourished.
Unequal opportunities between women and men hamper women’s ability to lift themselves from poverty and secure improved options to improve their lives. Education is the most powerful instrument for changing women’s position in society.
Investing in women’s and girls’ education is one of the most effective ways to reduce poverty, if done in line with the Millennium Development Goals and the objectives established by the international community. We need policies that place education at the core of women’s ability to contribute to all activities, working to enhance knowledge, competency and skills, including in the development process and in their contributions to civil society.
Education is important for everyone, but it is a critical area of empowerment for girls and women. This is not only because education is an entry point to opportunity but also because of women’s educational achievements have positive ripple effects within the family and across generations.
Education is much more than reading and writing. It is an essential investment countries make for their futures, a crucial factor in reducing poverty and achieving sustainable development.
The government should develop partnerships with NGOs and private sector to handover responsibility effectively to achieve universal primary education. It can improve education administration.
The most important factor in improving education in Pakistan is to spread awareness amongst the rural population about the necessity of education for girls. An annual survey should be conducted to maintain a check on the progress made. No society can progress by restricting more than half of its population in the depth of ignorance.