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Education Inequality In Pakistan

Education in the United States is taken for granted many times whereas education in much of the developing world is something is a luxury. The literacy rate in a country is defined as the percent of the population that can read and write and is fifteen years of age or older. Take the United States for example: the literacy rate is ninety-nine percent overall for both females and males (The World Factbook- US). Now look at Pakistan: the overall literacy rate is only 54.9 percent, but for males it jumps to 68.8 percent and drops drastically for females to 40.3 percent (The World Factbook- Pakistan). These numbers shine a light on the education inequity between males and females. However, this problem is not only present in Pakistan—but throughout much of the developing world. Despite that, education inequity between genders in Pakistan as a result of patriarchal culture, the country can improve the accessibility of equal education in several ways and once this equity is reached, society as a whole will benefit greatly.

The male-dominated society in Pakistan and the ancient cultural traditions make it difficult for girls and women to get equal access to education. The greatest education disparities are present in much of rural Pakistan, and those same rural villages and towns also have very strong ties to tradition and culture. Girls are often seen a burden to their families because when a daughter gets married, her family usually pays a dowry, money or goods, to the husband’s family. In addition, the younger she is, the less money a family has to pay (Yasmin). This creates two issues. The first being, if a girl gets married at eight years old, then she would have to drop out of school to support her new husband either by getting a job, which would not be well paying due to her lack of education, or doing housework (Latif). The second issue is the overall objectification of women; they are seen as a good that can be traded or sold. This practice of dowries creates a mindset that females are inferior to males. Yet, it is important to note that a mindset cannot be changed by a new law or an outsider coming in and ‘scolding’ the society for its view of women, the change must come from within the community.

Looking back on American history, laws giving African-Americans equal rights did little to change the peoples’ views. The lack of change from the creation of laws stresses the importance of grassroots movements, like the civil right movement of the 1950s and 1960s (Kristof 66). This issue becomes even greater when considering the financial accessibility and distance to schools.

Since much of Pakistan is extremely rural, there are simply are no schools that are close enough. Therefore, families must pay to provide transportation for their children to get to school. Since around eighty percent of families in rural Pakistan live below the poverty line on less than a dollar twenty-five daily, providing the transportation necessary is unrealistic (Rural, Pakistani, Facts). However, if the parents were able to save enough money to make this education a reality for one child, they would overwhelmingly choose to educate the son over the daughter. The choice again stems from the idea that females are worth less than males (Kristof 68).

Violence against women is another obstacle to their education. For many years, the Taliban, an Islamic extremist group, has terrorized Pakistan and surrounding countries, and further impeded education for women (Winthrop). They created a situation that made it unsafe for girls to travel to school. On October 9, 2012, Malala Yousafzai was in Afghanistan, just across Pakistan’s border when she was confronted by a member of the Taliban (Malala’s). She was in a van with some other girls on the way to school when a member of the Taliban, who did not believe in a women’s right to education, opened the door and started firing bullets, one of which pierced Malala’s skull. She went on to recover from her life-threatening injury and now is advocating for women’s rights, especially their right to an education (Bush). Her story shows that education and awareness can be the first steps in overcoming obstacles for educating women.

Making education in Pakistan accessible for females is not an easy task; nevertheless, there are many ways in which equal education can be reached. The issue is not always having school structures; much of the time it is giving parents an incentive or a good reason to keep their girls in school. One idea that has been shown to be effective is ‘paying’ the parents to keep their daughter in school. Here, the parent would get a small sum of money or in some cases a service like a medical exam or food, each month, provided their daughter’s attendance was strong. The amount of money would usually be equal to the salary the child would be earning if they dropped out of school to start working (Kristoff 173). Moreover, the longer the girl stayed in school the more her salary would increase, because with an education, her job options would widen. When her salary is greater, she may even be able to stop the generational poverty cycle in her family and better provide for the family she too would start one day.

If more women gain access to equal education, their whole community, the economy and the world will benefit. There is a direct correlation between countries that repress women and countries that are economically backwards (Kristof 159). If half the population is unable to fully participate in the economy, it makes sense that the country is not able to move forward. It has been shown that for every one percent increase in female education, the economy grows 0.3 percent (Wintrop). Additionally, when a woman is well-educated, she will be empowered to changed the oppressed society she lives and stand up for her rights (Isgandarova).  One girl at a time, education can truly change women’s place in the world.

Women in Pakistan are systematically denied education due to ingrained cultural practices, but when these obstacles are overcome and all have access to equal education, regardless of location or gender, the entire world will benefit. These issues of inequality are not only in Pakistan, but across the world. It is sad to note, that as of July 2013 the United States has still not accepted the UN Convention: Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, which is accepted by more than one hundred and eighty other countries, showing that not just poor countries are backwards, but Western developed nations have distance to travel as well, in regard to the equality of women (Zeitlin). Education inequity and even gender discrimination are two of the biggest issues plaguing society and must be fought today because the world cannot wait to educate women. The world must come together to lift the burden of oppression off of women and through education and empowerment they achieve greatness for everyone’s benefit.

Education in the United States is taken for granted many times whereas education in much of the developing world is something is a luxury. The literacy rate in a country is defined as the percent of the population that can read and write and is fifteen years of age or older. Take the United States for example: the literacy rate is ninety-nine percent overall for both females and males (The World Factbook- US). Now look at Pakistan: the overall literacy rate is only 54.9 percent, but for males it jumps to 68.8 percent and drops drastically for females to 40.3 percent (The World Factbook- Pakistan). These numbers shine a light on the education inequity between males and females. However, this problem is not only present in Pakistan—but throughout much of the developing world. Despite that, education inequity between genders in Pakistan as a result of patriarchal culture, the country can improve the accessibility of equal education in several ways and once this equity is reached, society as a whole will benefit greatly. The male-dominated society in Pakistan and the ancient cultural traditions make it difficult for girls and women to get equal access to education. The greatest education disparities are present in much of rural Pakistan, and those same rural villages and towns also have very strong ties to tradition and culture. Girls are often seen a burden to their families because when a daughter gets married, her family usually pays a dowry, money or goods, to the husband’s family. In addition, the younger she is, the less money a family has to pay (Yasmin). This creates two issues. The first being, if a girl gets married at eight years old, then she would have to drop out of school to support her new husband either by getting a job, which would not be well paying due to her lack of education, or doing housework (Latif). The second issue is the overall objectification of women; they are seen as a good that can be traded or sold. This practice of dowries creates a mindset that females are inferior to males. Yet, it is important to note that a mindset cannot be changed by a new law or an outsider coming in and ‘scolding’ the society for its view of women, the change must come from within the community. Looking back on American history, laws giving African-Americans equal rights did little to change the peoples’ views. The lack of change from the creation of laws stresses the importance of grassroots movements, like the civil right movement of the 1950s and 1960s (Kristof 66). This issue becomes even greater when considering the financial accessibility and distance to schools. Since much of Pakistan is extremely rural, there are simply are no schools that are close enough. Therefore, families must pay to provide transportation for their children to get to school. Since around eighty percent of families in rural Pakistan live below the poverty line on less than a dollar twenty-five daily, providing the transportation necessary is unrealistic (Rural, Pakistani, Facts). However, if the parents were able to save enough money to make this education a reality for one child, they would overwhelmingly choose to educate the son over the daughter. The choice again stems from the idea that females are worth less than males (Kristof 68). Violence against women is another obstacle to their education. For many years, the Taliban, an Islamic extremist group, has terrorized Pakistan and surrounding countries, and further impeded education for women (Winthrop). They created a situation that made it unsafe for girls to travel to school. On October 9, 2012, Malala Yousafzai was in Afghanistan, just across Pakistan’s border when she was confronted by a member of the Taliban (Malala’s). She was in a van with some other girls on the way to school when a member of the Taliban, who did not believe in a women’s right to education, opened the door and started firing bullets, one of which pierced Malala’s skull. She went on to recover from her life-threatening injury and now is advocating for women’s rights, especially their right to an education (Bush). Her story shows that education and awareness can be the first steps in overcoming obstacles for educating women. Making education in Pakistan accessible for females is not an easy task; nevertheless, there are many ways in which equal education can be reached. The issue is not always having school structures; much of the time it is giving parents an incentive or a good reason to keep their girls in school. One idea that has been shown to be effective is ‘paying’ the parents to keep their daughter in school. Here, the parent would get a small sum of money or in some cases a service like a medical exam or food, each month, provided their daughter’s attendance was strong. The amount of money would usually be equal to the salary the child would be earning if they dropped out of school to start working (Kristoff 173). Moreover, the longer the girl stayed in school the more her salary would increase, because with an education, her job options would widen. When her salary is greater, she may even be able to stop the generational poverty cycle in her family and better provide for the family she too would start one day. If more women gain access to equal education, their whole community, the economy and the world will benefit. There is a direct correlation between countries that repress women and countries that are economically backwards (Kristof 159). If half the population is unable to fully participate in the economy, it makes sense that the country is not able to move forward. It has been shown that for every one percent increase in female education, the economy grows 0.3 percent (Wintrop). Additionally, when a woman is well-educated, she will be empowered to changed the oppressed society she lives and stand up for her rights (Isgandarova). One girl at a time, education can truly change women’s place in the world. Women in Pakistan are systematically denied education due to ingrained cultural practices, but when these obstacles are overcome and all have access to equal education, regardless of location or gender, the entire world will benefit. These issues of inequality are not only in Pakistan, but across the world. It is sad to note, that as of July 2013 the United States has still not accepted the UN Convention: Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, which is accepted by more than one hundred and eighty other countries, showing that not just poor countries are backwards, but Western developed nations have distance to travel as well, in regard to the equality of women (Zeitlin). Education inequity and even gender discrimination are two of the biggest issues plaguing society and must be fought today because the world cannot wait to educate women. The world must come together to lift the burden of oppression off of women and through education and empowerment they achieve greatness for everyone’s benefit.

Works Cited
"Facts About Hunger and Poverty." Empowering Women and Men to End Their Own Hunger. The Hunger Project, n.d. Web. 21 July 2013.

Posted: Oct 02, 2013 by Caroline Verrecchia

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