March 8th is celebrated as “International Women’s Day” across the Globe to commemorate the memory of the female textile workers of New York who marched on the streets of New York to demand equal wages and better working conditions on March 8th, 1857. It was the first strike of its kind organized by the women of the working class. Since then, women have been marching for their rights every year to demand equal rights and dignity. In Pakistan, the role of women in society is often limited due to gender biases and that often leads to a plethora of other problems. It is often suggested that Women’s education can play a decisive role in combating Gender-Based violence and can minimize the discrimination that women face in any society.
Combating Gender-Based Violence and Discrimination
Gender-based violence remains a pervasive issue that affects millions of women and girls worldwide. It is a form of violence that is rooted in unequal power relations between men and women, and it can take many forms, including physical, sexual, psychological, and economic violence. While efforts to combat gender-based violence have been ongoing for decades, there is growing evidence that women’s education can play an important role in combating gender-based violence.
In Pakistan, however, women’s education is often limited by cultural, economic, and political factors. According to UNICEF, only 45% of women in Pakistan are literate, and many women are denied access to education due to poverty, early marriage, and societal norms that restrict their mobility and opportunities. To combat gender-based violence, it is essential to address these structural barriers and invest in women’s education.
Investing in girls’ education in Pakistan can have multiple benefits in the long run. Studies show that educated women are more likely to be economically independent, which can give them the power to leave abusive relationships or resist forced marriages. They are also more likely to participate in decision-making at the household and community level, which can help to challenge traditional gender norms that contribute to gender-based violence. Furthermore, educated women are more likely to have better health outcomes, and they can pass on their knowledge and skills to their children, leading to intergenerational benefits.
To combating gender-based violence through women’s education, it is necessary to take a comprehensive and multi-faceted approach. Some of the key strategies that can be employed include:
Providing Accessible Education:
One of the primary reasons why women and girls are denied education in Pakistan is because of a lack of accessibility. To address this issue, the government and other stakeholders must invest in creating more schools and training teachers, especially in rural areas. Schools should be equipped with safe and secure facilities, transportation, and sanitation facilities. Additionally, there should be provisions for free education, scholarships, and financial incentives to encourage families to send their girls to school.
Educating Boys and Men:
While girls’ education is crucial, it is equally essential to educate boys and men on the harms of gender-based violence. Schools and other educational institutions should incorporate education on gender equality, healthy relationships, and consent into their curriculum. Moreover, communities should be engaged in campaigns to raise awareness about gender-based violence and its impacts on women’s lives.
Providing Support Services:
Women and girls who experience gender-based violence often face significant barriers to accessing support services. It is necessary to provide safe and confidential spaces for women and girls to report incidents of violence and seek support. Additionally, there should be provisions for legal aid, counseling, and medical care.
Advocating for Legal and Policy Changes:
To address gender-based violence, there must be adequate laws and policies in place that protect women’s rights. Pakistan has laws in place that criminalize violence against women, including the Protection of Women Against Violence Act, but the implementation of these laws is often weak. Advocacy and policy changes are necessary to ensure that these laws are implemented effectively and that women can access justice.
In conclusion, women’s education is a crucial strategy in combating gender-based violence in Pakistan. By investing in girls’ education, addressing structural barriers to education, and providing support services, Pakistan can empower women to resist violence, challenge traditional gender norms, and contribute to the country’s development.
Related: PU holds conference on gender based violence
The writer, Muhammad Saad, is an M.Phil scholor of Political Science at GCU Lahore.