Status of Women in Pakistan

The state and status of women by Sarwar Bari
The News, January 22, 2009

For many years we have been witnessing women being prevented to participate in the electoral process both as voters and candidates. Shamelessly, despite their cutthroat competition, the religious and so-called liberal parties engaged in this fraud. And the Election Commission of Pakistan has never taken any action against this clear violation of its code of conduct. In addition, the state has been ominously silent on the closure and burning of girls' schools and women's colleges in some parts of the country. It also must be noted that recently, when the Islamic Ideological Council announced some pro-women recommendations on divorce, the mullahs aggressively opposed them, while the so-called pro-women parties did not bother to defend the recommendations.

Is it not an irony, especially when the Constitution of Pakistan (Articles 25 and 34) guarantees equality between the two sexes? Let us not forget that Pakistan also signed the Convention for the Elimination of All Kinds of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). In order to achieve the objectives of CEDAW, Pakistan has also launched a Gender Reform Action Plan. In short, it could be concluded that the constitutional and policy framework of the state of Pakistan is externally pro-women, but inwardly it has no shame when its own laws are violated. This hidden contradiction needs a comprehensive analysis. Space constraint allows only a brief examination.

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