Reducing the Gender Gap in
Muslim Societies:
The Case of Pakistan
Ana Komnenic, Anita Tavra, Eliana Chia
Dr. Muhammad Iqbal
The Maria-Helena Foundation
www.mariahelenafoundation.org
What is ‘equality’ ?
Equal access to “opportunities that allow
people to pursue a life of their own
choosing and to avoid extreme
deprivations in outcomes”
(World Development Report, 2006)
• It measures gaps not levels
Country A)
Country B)
Female
20%
40%
Male
40%
80%
Country C)
20%
20%
Countries A and B both have a gap of 0.5
Country C has no gap
Why reduce the Gender Gap?
•
•
•
•
It’s a basic human right
Freedom from male control
Better health care
More participants in the economy =
economic growth
• Improved work/life balance for both
women and men
Global Gender Gap
• Report of the World Economic Forum
(2010)
• Based on four pillars:
– Economic attainment
– Political participation
– Health
– Education
Examples of Sub-indices
Pakistan
Bangladesh
Rankings – some comparisons
COUNTRY
Norway
Philippines
Canada
The Gambia*
Bangladesh*
Japan
Saudi Arabia*
Pakistan*
Yemen*
2010 RANK
2
9
20
75
82
94
129
132
134
*Muslim majority countries
Gender Gap in Muslim Societies
The Muslim world
Why is the gender gap so high?
o Culture
o Religion
o Structural and systemic
barriers
o Varying levels of
socioeconomic development
o Varying levels of
democratization
Culture
• Combination of local pre-existing, preIslamic cultures
• Dictated by morals and values influenced
by pre-existing practices and religion
• A foundation for the way of life: social,
political, economic
Religion
• Interpretive nature – various manifestation
of religiosity in secular and traditional
states (Bosnia vs. Saudi Arabia)
• Used to support discriminatory attitudes
and policies
• Absolutist values on social roles, sexuality,
morality
• In some places, immune from public
scrutiny and challenge
Structural/Systemic
• Traditional vs. secular governments
• Various types of governance
• Influence of clerics, religious/moral
police
• Culture and religion serve as
foundations upon which systemic
structures are formed and upheld
Socioeconomic development
• Low literacy impacts women’s access to
reproductive and general health
• Low literacy correlates with maternal and
child health/mortality
• Rural areas: problems of infrastructure
• High fertility and poverty mean that
families would prefer to send boys to
school in many cases
• Families may be forbidden to or choose
not to send their daughters to school
Democratization
• Laws and policies which support girls and
women are not always enforced
Example: Women in Saudi Arabia and Iran
have high levels of literacy but very low work
sector participation
Example: Women in Saudi Arabia will be
able to vote, but cannot drive or be alone
without male supervision
What can governments do?
• Invest in schools, teachers, egalitarian
curriculum development, and scholarships
• Expand access to public education by
removing fees which many parents cannot
afford
• Promote equality*
• Provide equal opportunities for men and
women to be educated and to work
together as equals to build a healthy
society
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Reducing Gender Gap in Muslim Societies: The Case of Pakistan