Prior to the partition of Pakistan and India in 1947, we shared the same cultures and traditions. Some require modification whereas many need eliminations. ‘Women-empowerment’ is something which is denied in our Society. Unfortunately, here patriarchy dominates not only men but also female perceptions where they accept men as their lord and are unaware of their basic rights such as ‘education’. Today’s topic is concerned with female illiteracy in Pakistan.

Female literacy constitutes only 45% of the total literacy rate in Pakistan compared to 65% literacy rate of men which reflects the educational position of women in our society. Now, you’ll be wondering the reason for all this?

“If you educate a man; you educate an individual. But if you educate a woman, you educate a nation”. ___ African Proverb. 

This is because if you educate a girl, she educates her siblings and family members and her household and when an educated woman is married, she educates her husband, children and her marital household. These people further continue to spread education and so on. So educating a woman means educating a whole generation. Then imagine how even 100 women can change generations.

Young girls born are considered a burden and are raised to limit their abilities to the kitchen work and serving the family members as an unpaid servant. Many cannot even imagine of receiving education because the only two things taught to them is one, how to cook good food and two, how to serve your husband without a single word of complain of his character or actions. Women who are independent and educated are labelled as ‘wretched and a broken woman’ because marriage is something that makes or breaks a woman here not her qualifications or worth. However, poverty is another factor which contributes to female illiteracy in Pakistan.

A major reason for not being able to receive education is domestic violence. Those who strive for education tolerate domestic abuse and even honour killing and targeting as seen in the case of ‘Malala Yousefzai’. According to a study carried out in 2009 by Human Rights Watch, it is estimated that between 60 and 70 percent of women in Pakistan have suffered some form of abuse. Moreover, there have been roughly 15000 reported cases of honor killing in Pakistan currently. Sadly, sometimes a girl’s own parents fail to recognise education as a need for nurturing her growth. The fear of being labelled by the society ‘as a dishonoured family because of female schooling’ has more weightage in our society as compared to a girl’s educational need fulfilment. Prioritising the society over your daughter’s basic right of access to education is a common phenomenon in our community and a reason to such low female literacy rate.  Women are not allowed to leave their house without permission and are therefore limited to their homes and are not able to compete in the employment opportunities provided by the government. Their potential is suppressed due to the many reasons explained in this article.

Although the Government of Pakistan has opened up many employment opportunities for women but when they won’t be allowed any education, how will they be eligible for any of the provided jobs? Therefore, a wide gender gap between men and women persists in our society. 

Countries are blamed for their negligence in such cases, but here’s the truth, it’s not the nation or an individual that needs to change it is the mind that requires change in perception. Once the mind changes, individuals change and when individuals change, society’s and nation’s change. According to George Herbert Mead (renowned sociologist), “’I’ is what you think of yourself irrespective of anyone’s perceptions about you, whereas ‘Me’ is what the society or others think of yourself”. The problem here is that the girl’s ‘Me’ aspect is dominating their personality whereas the ‘I’ is suppressed which needs empowerment.

Our society is ahead in complaining for the slow development of our country but is not realising their contribution to many problems that continue to exist in Pakistan. If this does not stop, women job participation rate which is already low will fall further to causing unemployment in Pakistan. There are no biases for women or men because if women are not granted access to education simultaneously, men are overburdened with the responsibilities of earning, working and keeping up with the economy which is also tough. This social imbalance is caused by the mere customs and tradition abiding people whether they be men or women which hinder the economic development of the country. For how long will we overburden our men by not allowing girls to get educated and help them in their work which are an equally valuable asset as men? 

Moreover, the higher the female literacy rate and women participation in jobs and businesses, the greater the human development index of the country (HDI). You would’ve noticed that many developed countries like the USA and Turkey have more women job participation because this is a great factor

which illustrates the level of development of the state. If women in Pakistan are allowed education attainment and job participation, the economy can boost beyond limits reaching its peak combined with equal effort and shared responsibilities, therefore making men’s jobs easier and more efficient. However, some efforts have been made by the revolutionary women and the NGOs in Pakistan which are playing a significant role in female enrolment in schools and colleges by campaigning and opening opportunities for them to grow, prosper and uplift our Pakistan.

 When girls are educated, their countries become stronger and more prosperous. When girls are educated, their countries become stronger and more prosperous”. __ Michelle Obama 

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