Global Gender Gap: Where Pakistan stands

Contribution By : Dr. Muhammad Shahid

Historically, both political and economic theories have ignored the issues of gender division. There are two reasons for this ignorance. First, women and men are so equal in status and role designation that political and economic theories need not distinguish between them. Second, the role of women in the political and economic realm is unimportant and we are safe to ignore them. These two approaches seem inappropriate. We have seen that women are active participants in public life in our societies.

The Global Gender Gap report 2020 issued by the World Economic Forum (WEF) indicates that Pakistan ranked 7thamong the regional countries in South Asia.  This means that all other six countries in the region performed well in terms of gender parity. Ranking globally, the global gender gap report further revealed that Pakistan ranked 151 out of 153 countries with accumulative score of 0.564. The global gender gap index uses four indicators including economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, access to health facilities and political participation and empowerment.

Performance on economic participation and opportunity indicators reveals that Pakistan ranked 150 out of 153 countries with a score of 0.327 which is much below the global average of 0.582. In labor force participation rate Pakistan ranked 147 out of 153 countries with a score of 0.298 compare to the global average score of 0.661. Labor force participation data indicates that only 25.2 percent of women are employed compared to male participation rate of 84.5 percent.

The wage equality for similar work indicates ranked Pakistan 102 out of 153 countries with a score of 0.592 compare to the average score of 0.613. Pakistan ranked 148 out of 153 for estimated earned income and scored very low of 0.181 compare to world average of 0.499. The situation is also grave when we talk about the percentage of legislators, senior officials and managers and Pakistan ranked 146 out of 153 countries. The following graph shows Pakistan’s dismal performance.

The percentage of professional and technical workers also shows disturbing aspects. The percentage of male worker is 76.7 percent compare to female participation of 23.3 percent. Now coming towards the second component of educational attainment. Literacy rate shows that Pakistan ranked 143 out of 153 countries in the list. The percentage of female is 46.5 percent compare to male literacy of 71.1 percent.

Enrolment in primary education is somehow encouraging. Pakistan scored 0.840 which is greater than the global average of 0.757.Pakistan ranked 145 when it comes to health and life expectancy. Females are fortunate here by having more average life than male in Pakistan. Analyzing the static on political empowerment, women in parliament is about 20.2 percent compare to their 79.8 percent men in the parliament. Women on the ministerial position is restricted to 12 percent compare to  88 percent male on ministerial positions.

Now this is high time to build fairer and more inclusive society in terms of gender equality. Instilling gender parity across economic participation, education, health and politics is critical to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS) of the United Nations Global Agenda 2030. The government should use different indexes like Global Gender Gap (GGG), Gender Empowerment Measure (GEM), Gender Related Development Index (GRDI) and other reports as a compass to track the progress on relative gaps between men and women. The identification of gaps in economic participation, access to health facilities, access to educational opportunities and participation in politics allow the government to set priorities to minimize the gap.

Statistics reveal and suggest growing urgency for government intervention to minimize the gap between men and women. Without the inclusion of half of the population and better integration of the half of Pakistan’s talent, struggling for a more inclusive economy and prosperous society is day dreaming.

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About the Author:

The author has a PhD Degree in Economics from PIDE and has 15 years’ experience as a journalist with state owned electronic media, PTV News. Author also teaches Public Policy, Governance, Poverty and Development, Political Economy and Development Economics as a visiting faculty member.

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