Development Advocate Pakistan Volume 4, Issue 4, December 2017

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Empowering our Women

In Pakistan, women account for almost 49 percent of the population. But while the gap between the number of men and women is small, the Global Gender Gap index-which captures the gap between men and women across a wide variety of socio-economic categoriesplaced Pakistan at 143 out of 144 countries in 2017. This means that there is a significant and broad unequal distribution of opportunities and resources between men and women. Though the recent trend is unchanged as the country stood at 143 in 2016 as well, it need not remain so, as national demographics and a host of factors, including education, employment, health and societal dynamics, are all drivers to reduce inequality and increase women's empowerment.

Education is the foundation upon which change is built. And change has the power to transform mindsets and create new dimensions of existence. A recent study of 60 countries estimated that the economic loss from not educating girls at the same level as boys totals USD 90 billion. Indeed, Pakistan has shown progress on closing the gender gaps in basic literacy, improving from a global rank of 138 in 2016, to 127 in 2017, although the ranking for equality in primary and secondary enrolment ranks remained the same for both years, at 127 and 134, respectively.