Women hold up half of the sky. The fate of the nation depends on the role of women in society. Women are the future forgers in the modern world. Any society that fails to utilize the strength and innovativeness of its women is a huge loss in the current world. 66% of the globally uneducated population is women. Globally 70% of women are paying unpaid services to their families. Unpaid women services are calculated to 11 trillion US $ annually and are estimated equal to one-third of global GDP. Women possess only 1% of the world land. The managerial participation of the women in the developed countries is 33%, 15% in Africa and 13% in Asia and the Pacific. Only 14% of worldwide women are members of parliament and only 7% are cabinet ministers worldwide.
Even in the UN system women possess only 9% of high designations, 21% hold senior positions and 40% provide junior professional services. The situation of women in South Asia is not satisfactory. The three Bigs in Asia namely Pakistan, India and Bangladesh are facing the problem of discrimination against women. Most of the Asian women depend on the private sector, unlike men who occupy the public sector. Men do all types of jobs and responsibilities which can by publically eyed. Behind the public lens, all the jobs are considered to be women’s duty. Though this culture is not unique to Asia yet it is culturally transmitted and accepted. Asian women are meant to be submissive, lower in the power hierarchy, relationship and decision making. Asian women are living in a male chauvinistic society.
Girls are brainwashed about patience, compromise and sacrifice to personal ideals. 80% of rural and 70% of urban men in Asian is inclined to consider women inferior to men. In South, Asia boys are the custodian of the future and girls as financial responsibility. Asians must perceive the fact, if they prefer sons, without daughters, there is no concept of the future generation. There is great discrimination against women in South Asia in all the fields of life. From birth to death, there is merely any strong concept of gender equality.
They are not educated, brought up, looked after, taken care of, treated affectionately, encouraged and backed up, supported and counselled and even aspired to be helpful from any angle. Irrational religious interpretation of gender equality in South Asia is one of the main reasons for women discrimination in the region. Most of the families remain vague about women’s social role. They seem reluctant to let them play their due role in society.
South Asian women also suffer from state discriminatory laws. The overwhelming majority of lawmakers is male, they hardly let any law pass which may challenge their social dominance. In some of the rural areas, boys are breastfed longer than girls and female members take their meal after male members. Most of the Indian Muslim female population is uneducated as compare to other minorities. The reason behind it is the misinterpretation of Quranic principles by the clergies. Asian women are victims of violence and they are not given their due share in the property. Asian women are considered to be bad characters if they muster up the courage to participate in politics.
There is a character assignation of women if they try to play their active role in society. Traditions and religious laws still determine the lives of the majority of the people in South Asia. The Asian women are forced to refrain from claiming their legal share in the property in the name of family unity. The caste system in India is killing the women knee-deep. The women of lower castes even cannot sit with the women of superior caste.
Women represent 1.8% of the election commission of Pakistan’s 2288 full-time employees and there is no senior management position for women. More than 50% of women in Pakistan are non registered voters. Millions of women cannot vote because of not holding National ID cards. Women represent less than 3% for general seats. Various barriers have pushed women back in the social span. In North Waziristan and FATA, there was 7% women voters turn up whereas in Balochistan it is estimated more than 48%.
2.7 million women in Pakistan do not have their photograph on their national ID card. Jirga, Punjabi and other local factors are creating hurdles in the development of women. Pakistan political parties nominated only 1.4% of women for their party tickets. The problem of gender inequality in Pakistan persists in rural areas while it has improved in urban areas. South Asia is also facing problems regarding data availability about women participation.
Asian women are considered to be more conservative than Asian men. In South Asia’s rural areas most of the working women are of higher age while in urban areas the majority of working women is young. There is also gulf of discrimination even within women working classes. The educated working class is respected while the lower working women are not respected in South Asia. Overall South Asian society is a male dominant society where there is a lesser concept of gender equality.
Submitted by Prof. Abdul Shakoor Shah, Date 01 January 2021.
The writer is Prof. in English and Freelance Columnist.