Situation Analysis of children and women in Pakistan 2012
“Children in Pakistan remain among the most vulnerable part of the population.” So reads the first line of the National Plan of Action for Children that the Government of Pakistan adopted in 2006 as a blueprint for integrating the goals that emerged from the 2000 World Summit for Children into national policy for children in Pakistan.
Five years after that plan was put into effect, and more than 21 years after the World Summit, the children of Pakistan and the women who bear, nurture and sustain them, remain the most vulnerable members of Pakistani society.
The National Plan of Action concedes that “most indicators confirm that (children) face serious disadvantages in the realm of economic and social development”. Those indicators appear with startling clarity and in alarming abundance in this SitAn, creating an evidence base to document the dire situation of children and women in Pakistan.
Children and women are those most affected by the household poverty that holds nearly a third of the country’s population in its grip. Children and women from the poorest households are routinely denied or otherwise discouraged from attaining access to health and education services that are already either inadequate or underutilized. They are also the members of society who are most affected by customs, social norms and traditional practices which can expose them to neglect, exploitation and abuse.
In these ways, through denial of access and exposure to maltreatment, too many children and women in Pakistan are deprived of the most basic human rights: the right to survival, the right to health care and education, the right to protection against violence, exploitation and abuse, the right to participate in the making of decisions about their lives – rights that are guaranteed by the international conventions to which Pakistan is a State party. Gaps in the implementation of those conventions (foremost among them the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)), are highlighted in this report.
The indicators and trends assessed and discussed in this SitAn tell the story in stark factual detail. Some of the facts in the trove of evidence in this report include:
• One out of ten Pakistani children die before their fifth birthday, over half of them die before completing the first month of life.
• More than a third of deaths of children under age five are caused by treatable illness, and 60 per cent are the result of water and sanitation-related diseases.
• Malnutrition contributes to 35 per cent of under-five deaths and more than 40 per cent of children are either moderately or severely stunted; malnutrition rates in two provinces are above emergency levels.
• Although Pakistan’s maternal mortality rate has declined significantly in recent years, it is still relatively high (276 per 100,000 live births) and immense resources and efforts will be required to achieve the MDGs target of 140 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births.
• Less than half of Pakistan’s children are fully immunized; immunization rates have actually fallen in every province except Punjab, and at the end of 2011 Pakistan was one of four countries in the world where new polio cases were still emerging, despite a massive nationwide immunization programme.
• Nearly half of primary school-age children are not enrolled in school, and among eligible girls the out-of-school proportion is closer to three-quarters; in absolute numbers, out-of-school girls outnumber their male counterparts.
• Completion rates to the fifth year of schooling have actually declined in the past five years.
• Fifty-five per cent of all Pakistani adults are illiterate; among women the rate is closer to 75 per cent.
• Pakistan is not on track to achieve any of its major targets among the MDGs by 2015.