Empowerment through education key to delivering a more Equitable society

(bismillah Anwar, lahore)

“Investing in women’s and girls’ education is one of the most effective ways to reduce poverty.”

Empowerment means moving from enforced powerlessness to a position of power. Education is an essential means of empowering women with the knowledge, skills and self-confidence necessary to fully participate in the development process. Sustainable development is only possible when women and men enjoy equal opportunities to reach their potential.

Education is the right of every human but unfortunately in Pakistan women are still mostly deprived of education. For a strong society the role of an educated woman is very important. Education is the only tool that can break the cycle of abuse, and poverty. It has the power to transform societies. Educated women are more aware of their rights. A greater participation of educated women in the economy and political process would lead to a better world today as well as future generations.

One in ten of the world’s primary age children who are not in schools live in Pakistan, placing Pakistan second in the global ranking of out-of-school children. According to UNESCO, 30 percent of Pakistanis live in extreme educational poverty having received less than two years of education.

In Pakistan, there are about 19.5 million children of primary age group, out of which 6.8 million are out of school and 60 per cent of these are females. At least, seven million children are not in primary schools. That’s around as many people as live in the city of Lahore. Three million will never see the inside of a classroom at all.

In Pakistan, girls face some of the highest barriers in education. It has been estimated that nearly 62 per cent of out of school girls are unlikely ever to enroll in schools as compared to 27 per cent of boys in the country. 43 per cent of women faced religious discrimination at workplace, educational institutions and neighborhood.

Women and girls experience multiple and intersecting inequalities. Structural barriers in the economic, social, political and environmental spheres produce and reinforce these inequalities. Obstacles to women’s economic and political empowerment, and violence against women and girls, are barriers to sustainable development and the achievement of human rights, gender equality, justice and peace. Across much of the world, either by law or custom, women are still denied the right to own land or inherit property, obtain access to credit, attend school, earn income and progress in their profession free from job discrimination.

Women have the potential to change their own economic status and that of their communities and countries in which they live yet usually women’s economic contributions are unrecognized, their work undervalued and their promise undernourished.

Unequal opportunities between women and men hamper women’s ability to lift themselves from poverty and secure improved options to improve their lives. Education is the most powerful instrument for changing women’s position in society.

Investing in women’s and girls’ education is one of the most effective ways to reduce poverty.

In line with the Millennium Development Goals and the objectives established by the international community, MASHAV, Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation, at Israel’s Foreign Ministry, consistently promotes the empowerment of women, considering women’s education a critical component of development policy and planning, and central to sustainable development.

Following important changes in the international development landscape in recent years MASHAV adopted a dual approach to development: We engage in active development policy dialogues and development diplomacy, thus contributing to and shaping policy at a higher, multilateral level.

And, through professional programs, we maintain an active and effective presence at the field level.

One of MASHAV’s earliest affiliate training institutions, The Golda Meir Mount Carmel International Training Center (MCTC), has addressed the connection between gender, poverty reduction and sustainable development for over five decades.

MCTC places education at the core of women’s ability to contribute to all activities, working to enhance knowledge, competency and skills, including in the development process and in their contributions to civil society.

Education is important for everyone, but it is a critical area of empowerment for girls and women. This is not only because education is an entry point to opportunity but also because women’s educational achievements have positive ripple effects within the family and across generations.

Education is much more than reading and writing. It is an essential investment countries make for their futures, a crucial factor in reducing poverty and achieving sustainable development.

The government should develop partnerships with NGOs and private sector to handover responsibility effectively to achieve universal primary education. It can improve education administration.

The most important factor in improving education in Pakistan is to spread awareness amongst the rural population about the necessity of education for girls. An annual survey should be conducted to maintain a check on the progress made. No society can progress by restricting more than half of its population in the depth of ignorance.

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