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Gender equality: WDI report says Pakistan lags behind

Islamabad: Pakistan has been lagging behind in the region in terms of promoting gender equality, especially in education particularly in terms of enrolment of girls to boys’ ratio at primary and secondary education’s, according World Development Indicators report 2012 launched by the World Bank.

Analysis of the report titled “Gender Equality and Development” covering the period up to 2009 revealed that access to education and training is very limited and there is a wide disparity between male-female, rural urban and different regions.

The ratio of girls to boys’ enrolments in primary and secondary school in Pakistan was 82 percent – considerably lower than 92 percent in India and 108 percent in Bangladesh whereas the report did not carry the figures for Nepal and Sri Lanka.

Pakistan also failed to reduce child mortality rate in the country, which was again relatively higher, compared to other regional countries.

The child mortality rate under five years age per 1,000 was 87 children in Pakistan compared to 66 in India, 15 in Sri Lanka 52 in Bangladesh and 48 children in Nepal.

Pakistan, after Nepal and Bangladesh, was rated higher in terms of maternal mortality ratio per 100,000 lives birth.

Maternal mortality ratio in Pakistan was 260 per 100,000 births during the period under review compared to 39 in Sri Lanka, 230 in India whereas in Nepal and Bangladesh maternal mortality rate was relatively higher at 308 deaths per 100,000 births and 340 respectively.

Further analysis of the data revealed that 61 percent population in Pakistan was earning less than $2 per day, below international poverty line, as per 2006 survey.

In India and Bangladesh, population below US $2 was 75.6 and 81.3 percent respectively while in Nepal it was 77.6 per cent.

However, in Sri Lanka the population below the international poverty line standard of US $2 dollar was only 29.1 percent.

According to the World Bank, with 25 million people (15 percent of the population) living in extreme poverty from 2008 onwards as well as adverse impact of global financial crisis, food and fuel crisis posed multiple challenges to Pakistan’s rapidly evolving social protection sector.

The militancy crisis as well as recurring natural disasters further acerbated the situation by exposing the large number of vulnerable population to the risk of falling into abject poverty.

The main safety net programs of Pakistan Bait-ul-Mal (PBM) and the Zakat with a limited coverage of about 5 percent of the total population were poorly targeted as 25 to 32 percent of resources distributed by these programs went to the non-poor households.

To address the above challenges, the Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) was launched with the short term objective to lessen the adverse impact of the fuel and financial crisis on the poor but its broader objective was to meet the re-distributive goal by providing minimum income support package to the chronic poor and those highly vulnerable to the shocks.

The World Bank report mentioned that to date Rs 85 billion has been disbursed through the BISP to 3.5 million families in all areas and regions of the country, thus benefiting more than 20 million people directly.

The World Development report 2012 pointed out three major challenges in Pakistan: limited access to education and vocational training, low quality of education and training and shortage of skilled labour for the country’s future growth.

Not even 4 percent of the total population enters into higher education and less than 1 percent of the population has ever received technical and vocational education.

Source: Business Recorder