GENDER equality is a central component to development, yet unfortunately Pakistan is far away to achieve it.
In the latest Global Gender Gap report released by the World Economic Forum, the country has been ranked second worst country in terms of gender parity, only above Afghanistan.
There is no denying that successive governments, over the past decade or so, have made women centric reforms to reduce the gender gap as well as ensure their financial inclusion and empowerment.
Amongst the major initiatives were the direct cash transfers to deserving women under BISP.
Then scholarship programs were also launched under the same income support program to encourage education of girls.
For a long time, our rural women have also been playing an active role in the rural economy.
Regardless of all this, the very Gender Index really points to the fact that much more needs to be done to improve gender parity.
For this, the country needs well targeted and innovative approaches keeping in view the local realities.
Firstly, female education needs to be promoted as it is the only key to unleash their potential.
According to UNICEF statistics, an estimated 22.8 million children aged 5-16 are out of school — around 60% of them are females.
To reduce the educational gap, the dropout rate of girls needs to be curbed. Apart from launching awareness campaigns sensitizing the families about the importance of girls’ education, educational institutes need to be established that are within the reach of especially the rural girls.
Then there is a dire need to promote women entrepreneurship and their participation in e-commerce.
The government should develop and dedicate special zones for women and provision of soft loans to them will also go a long way in helping them build their micro-entrepreneurs.
It is vital to offer technical education to women, especially IT-related education to enable them to use virtual modes for promoting their businesses and selling online.
The legislation done for the protection of women and ending violence against them must also be implemented in letter and spirit.
Women are almost fifty percent of the population and without their active role in different fields, the country cannot move forward on the path of progress and development.
So we have to bring a real change in our behaviours and remove hurdles in the ways of women so that they could work shoulder to shoulder with men and contribute to the economy.