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New Social Compact

Covid-19 Outbreak: A Compromise on Gender Equality

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The pandemic has without doubt affected men and women in a different manner. It has resulted in affecting adversely the economic, social, human rights aspects and with the health of women. Although during the pandemic mostly the concept of women being more adversely affected than men have rarely being discussed. Women who continued to be the marginalised section of society whereby according to the WHO report, “70% of workers in the health and social sectors are women” but a study also says that, “ overall, an average pay gap of 28% exists in the health workforce, once occupation and workforce are accounted for the gender pay gap is 11%. Yet the nurses, childcare workers, care givers to aged and the cleaning staffs continue to be the frontline workers during the times of the global pandemic. The already existing inequalities in the society for women have been intensified whereby even the little gains of the past for women have been maligned. In each and every sphere, women have continued to suffer at greater extents during the Coronavirus outbreak.

The women although the primary caretakers in each and every households and also constitute the frontline workers in health care giving but has meagre say in the policy formulations as they are inadequately represented in the society and community. The women for this reason of being the primary health care providers have greater chances of contracting the disease. Moreover, there have been an adverse effect of coronavirus has resulted in the loss of jobs of various people across countries whose effects also falls on the women of the society. There have also been greater incidences of violence of women in the households by their very partners because of the psychological distress of men of the society. Greater cases of domestic assaults, marital rapes are issues of growing concerns in the societies across nations because of the lockdown periods and the loss of jobs as well as in many cases the decrease in salaries of various male members of the society. Women have been the victim of financial, emotional stress and also of the increasing physical abuses as a result of confinement with abusive partners during these challenging times.

Although women in rural India women have largely been involved in the farming activities yet they hardly get the fruits of their labour in terms of finance but is controlled by male-counterparts in a patriarchal society altogether. In urban areas women may have to handle greater works at home in terms of the care giving or handling household chores during pandemic period which may result in leaving or compromising to leave the jobs in case of the women, which results in reduction in their financial independence in the society. Also, David Evans, Senior Fellow at Centre for Global Development indicated four concerns for women during pandemics: “Sexual health, intimate partner violence, the burden of care and economic crisis.” India has been one of the most dangerous countries in terms of violence against women which have been on the up rise in midst of the upsetting times. There had also been grave situation in regards to the provisions of family planning and other sexual health commodities including the menstrual health products which had adverse effects in terms of its supply during the pandemic situation. Moreover the stereotypical gendered roles of women in the society have been aggravated which needs fastest attention of the policy makers. This has caused adverse mental health effects in women during the pandemic situation. The concerns of women’s rights which have become the greatest during the pandemic can curb the rights and freedoms of women may in turn effect the communities and societies adversely. Antonio Guterres, the ninth Secretary General of the United Nations says, “The unfair and unequal treatment of working women is one reason why I went into politics. In the late 1960s, as a student volunteer doing social work in poor areas of Lisbon, I saw women in very difficult situations, doing menial jobs and carrying the weight of their extended families.”

Although these conditions were a bit improved but the Covid-19 tends to bring these situations back on brunt of the huge economic crises across the globe. Moreover, the pandemic has also resulted in huge number of girls to dropout from schools which were also evident during the Ebola epidemic. There has been also a delay for the women to get back to their work as long as the pandemic continues due to the increase in domestic works as well as the huge responsibilities of health care in the family to children and aged. In these situations, women are also having adverse effects in terms of their reproductive health services whereby there has been a staunch increase in the maternal and neo-natal mortality. Due to fear of contracting the virus in places of health care facilities there have been greater risk for both mothers and the child. The situation becomes graver when pregnant women contract the disease. “ In March,2020, World Health Organisation issued guidance for maintaining essential services during an outbreak, which included advice to prioritise services related to reproductive health and make efforts to avert maternal and child morbidity and mortality.” In many of the backward countries of the world the basic places of receiving healthcare facilities were shut because of the pandemic situation.

Its time the world also gives an eye to the gender sensitive view of the Covid-19 pandemic. There should be more and more public policy representatives who are women so that it can represent the gender specific needs of women during this time of the pandemics. Legal procedures should be more stringent in taking quick actions and steps in regard to violence against women in various parts of the world. “UNESCO estimated that the pandemic was preventing 1.52 billion children from attending school.” This results in women facing greater abuses and also issues like early marriage. Loss of work have adverse implications for women in the society as they in turn become again a part of the unpaid labour force or a worker in some unorganised sector. Hence, it is the dire need of the governments across the world to give a serious focus on the issues faced by women during the pandemic and also commit themselves to escalate their precarious condition in the society as well as each and every community as it compromises with the rights and dignities of human beings especially women.

New Social Compact

Educating Women in Pakistan: A Necessity For National Development

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Photo: UNICEF/PAKISTAN/Asad Zaidi

Education is fundamental to the success of any nation. Almost every developed nation recognizes its importance and lays great emphasis on its availability to every human being.

Education brings out the meaning of life and enables a person to make sense of the world around him. While on the other hand, an illiterate person fails to comprehend the essence of life and lives in ignorance.

Pakistan, the sixth most populous country in the world has grappled with the grave situation of illiteracy almost from the time of its existence and has one of the lowest literary rates on the continent. To put it narrowly, approximately 40% of its female population has not even received education at all. Thus, the major chunk of its population remains backward, which otherwise if educated could have proven to be a major source of social and economic development.

Women’s education is inextricably linked to the well-being of society. A society comprises of both male and female members, and equally needs the contribution of women nearly as much as of men in maintaining and regulating its functions. However, women in Pakistan face great challenges in accessing education and are confined to play domestic roles only. Also, certain societies consider the education of women as taboo. This results in gender inequality and social disparity which ultimately impedes the growth of a nation.

Women, as a child bearer, not only holds great responsibility of proper upbringing of the child but also of a whole generation. This aspect can be underscored by the African proverb which says,

“If you educate a man, you educate an individual but if you educate a woman, you educate a whole nation.”

Therefore, an increase in the education of women can profoundly improve human development outcomes such as child survival, health, and schooling. Education can bring phenomenal change in women’s life as it increases their confidence and raises their status in family and society. It lends her voice which she can use to advocate her rights and also helps her to participate in political and social sciences. Pakistan cannot afford to neglect the education of women if it wants to modernize itself and until or unless its female population remains uneducated, it will continue to undermine the ideals of democracy that it so cherishes. There is no doubt that Pakistan is a country whose youth is imbued with great talents and if given adequate knowledge they can properly channel this talent to the country’s advantage. This can only be achieved if gender disparities in literacy and education attainment in rural and urban areas of Pakistan are removed.

Women are also regarded as the weaker segment of society but through education, they can change their weakness into strength. It is also seen that women’s education has a positive relationship with women’s labor force participation rate which can play a significant role in reducing poverty and can contribute to sustainable growth in a developing country like Pakistan itself. Therefore, the government should invest in the education sector and especially in women’s education. This should be on its priority list as it is necessary for national development and progress.

Hence, concrete steps should be taken to empower women by granting them equality and education so that Pakistan can set itself upon the path of success.

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New Social Compact

Reasons of societal disintegration in Pakistan’s society

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Societal disintegration also known as social disorganization can be described as the society’s inability to structure itself and determine the mutual values and norms that should be presiding in a society. Another approach sees is as a complex and interconnected system of communities, formal and informal associations in the socialization process.

There are many reasons that exist in a society giving rise to the societal disintegration, the main and the core cause is the disturbed and interrupted system of social communication and the structure that exist for the mutual assistance.  The society that is deprived of functional and far-sighted leadership without new ideas and strategies usually tend to fall in the process of social disintegration.  The society practicality and viability tends to falls with the existence of economic problems, dissolving formal and informal institutions, deteriorating interpersonal relationships and weakening of the values and norms. All these thus impact the mental and the physical wellbeing of the society and the people thoroughly involved in it. Thus putting the restrain on the growth, self-realization, self-reflection and acknowledgment.

The reason for this societal disintegration in Pakistani society can be various. These numerous reason might include some internal as well as external causes. For instance Democracy and the rule of law, judicial system and calculated and good governance which was the main building factor of the idea of new country after the partition went into oblivion as soon as the establishment of the country. The nexus that started between the military and the bureaucracy for power accumulation and the multiple Martial laws put constrain on the hope of Pakistanis to build a sustainable nation and it was reflected in the future engagements of the citizen of the state.

Another reason which triggers the societal disintegration was the history of disasters and violence that the citizens go through. For example the history of Pakistan is marked with a lot of resistance and sacrifices by the people and their forefathers. Even after the creation of Pakistan, it had to go through several wars to ensure its survival. The people of Pakistani society also faced this disturbed environment throughout the Great War on terror happening in the immediate neighborhood of Afghanistan. It was impacting Pakistan in several ways for instance military operation to combat terrorism in the region of FATA created an environment of hostility and chaos. Troubled neighborhood and the major inclusion of migrants from time to time and its sociological, economic and psychological impacts  is what Pakistan has faced since its establishment .So the environment in which the society exist and the history of disasters also increase the pace of societal disintegration.

Dysfunctional Education system can also contribute to be another major reason that is driving the societal disintegration. As the system lacks to provide the same and the equal opportunities for the children and women to seek the basic education in Pakistan.  The lack of uniform educational curriculum and the modes of education is building a stroke between the elites and the lower section of the societies. The disparities on the basis of different religion and social status is escalating the social disintegration in the societies. In terms of opportunities the presence of Nepotism instead of merit is also causing the lack of commitment to one’s own country.

Another reason that is contributing in the societal disintegration is the Cultural confusion also known as cultural dissonance reflecting the disharmony and the conflict and the confusion that people face due to the change in their cultural environment. In Pakistan it is seen in the province of Baluchistan, Gilgit Baluchistan and Pashtunistan. There still exist speculation for the ill treatment, less development and lack of opportunities for the Baloch’s and Gilgiti. This creates a difference among the people of different cultural and give rise to hostility towards one another thus leads to more and more societal disintegration to a point that they start to consider themselves alien to the society. The lack of tolerance and acceptance for other religions, ethnicities and culture will alienate people from one another and will limit them to certain boundaries thus making it difficult for them to grow sociological and psychological, consequently bounding them to only one sect, ethnicities or area. For societal integration one must be visionary and develop sense of acceptance and tolerance leaving a room to nurture and develop as an integrated society rather than fueling the societal disintegration.

As mention earlier about the migration it is important to study it is detail, the massive in and out migration also serves as a factor that lead Pakistan society to face societal disintegration. Many people in Pakistan still seek migration to the countries aboard for better job opportunities, living standards, better health and education and security level. In Pakistan the Pakistani diaspora that basically reflects the brain drain from the country are exceeding the numbers of more than 10 million, people residing in the countries other than their homeland for such luxuries reflect little to no commitment and responsibility to their culture and country. Similarly the great number of influx of migrants as a result  of GWOT also posed a challenge for national integration as they bought with them their culture, identity and problem thus making it difficult for citizens to actually achieve the sense of nationality thus leading to more culture confusion and disharmonization.

Those having power and other patrons in Pakistan who are living in their luxurious lifestyles and comfort zones they have this responsibility to observe and analyze and seek guidance from the other countries that how with the presence of diverse cultures, languages and religions, the process of national integration reached to its logical conclusion. But it is not possible in the absence of visionary leadership and the will to work honesty for the society and its harmonization, in absence of these values one cannot expect a country to remain united and integrated as a nation.

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New Social Compact

Global Health Security: The need for collective action

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Since the concept of nation-state has emerged, states’ primary goal is to ensure their survival and maximize their security in terms of wealth and power. But little attention has been paid to non-conventional issues specifically to public health. Health systems have always been neglected by states especially by those poor states that are already facing socio-economic issues.

In an era of globalization, where the world is more intact and interconnected, Global health has become a serious issue and an area of debate in contemporary world politics. If on one hand, globalization offers tremendous possibilities and opportunities then, on the other hand, it has made the transfer of disease quicker than ever. Therefore, keeping both negative and positive outcomes of globalization in mind, a special focus should be given to the health sector as well.

By special focus, I mean global solidarity for worldwide health security should be build where all states, irrespective of their self-interest, work together to combat global health issues including malnutrition,  communicable ( such as hepatitis, tuberculosis, HIV, Covid-19), and non-communicable diseases (such as cancer, diabetes). In the past, all these infectious diseases specifically communicable diseases had a disturbing impact on humans and the overall economy of the global world. In the contemporary world, the Covid-19 pandemic that has caused the deaths of 3.74 million people since late 2019, has become an overwhelming threat to Global health. Not only has it affected the physical and mental health of individuals but the socio-economic conditions of states as well.

United Nations under Goal 3 of the Sustainable Development Goal is trying to tackle the problems of global health. World Health Organization is supervising the objectives that are set under this goal and is trying to work with states to readiness for pandemics and other health emergencies. Many other health projects have also been initiated to further the aim of the United Nations for global health. But still, the world needs more awareness programs especially in the third world countries where the situation of Covid-19 is much worst. Lack of awareness in such countries has given rise to many myths related to tackling the Covid-19 virus and its vaccination. People are reluctant to take the vaccine because they believe that either they will become infertile or die within weeks after getting vaccinated. Such people need education and for that, collective action is required. Not only world institutions but states, societies, leaders, the whole of their response are required to limit the spread of diseases.

Global health security should be considered as a shared responsibility of all states because in this interconnected world no one is safe until everyone is safe. This pandemic for which the world was unprepared, as the health sector was not prioritized, has shown us the real picture of the devastation of the global economy, global health, and human suffering. It has taught us how neglecting health systems could change the world upside down. So, to prevent any other future pandemics, we need to draw attention to the disparities that exist in different countries, try to solve them, bring awareness and make global health security a priority through collective action. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.”

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