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Discrimination against girls

Sir: The discrimination against girls is not only prevalent in Pakistan but is a universal phenomenon. However, girls in Pakistan especially have been the victims of a lot of discrimination.

Why can we not see the helpless agony of the girl child in our society? In some areas, a male child is regarded as more valuable to the family and girls are often denied many rights, including the right to life, work, marriage, property and so on. And by being married off early or forced to stay at home and help with domestic chores, girls are often denied their right to education and all the advantages that come from it such as an awareness of all their other basic rights.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), adopted in 1989 and by now ratified by most countries of the world, provides an agenda for action in identifying enduring forms of inequality and discrimination against girls, abolishing practices and traditions detrimental to the fulfilment of their rights and defining an effective strategy to promote and protect those rights.

However, implementation is necessary to ensure positive changes in the region so far. Other than the CRC, the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) is the most extensive and widely ratified international agreement promoting the rights of girls and women.

In some cases, where a decision has to be made about which child to send to school, it is commonly seen that parents decide to invest in their sons’ education rather than their daughters’. Such decisions arise from the perception that after marriage a girl does not contribute towards earning an income for the family and therefore her education is not considered a worthy cause to invest in.

I believe that education is the tool that can help break the pattern of gender discrimination and bring a much needed change for women in developing countries like ours. For decades, Pakistan has not given any particular importance to investing in education, especially girls’ education. Through equal opportunities women can contribute more effectively to the progress of their societies and can enable them to stand up to other discriminatory practices such as inequality, child labour, sexual exploitation, forced marriages and so on.

SAHIAB IRFAN KHAN
Lahore

Source: Daily Times

Date:11/10/2011

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