Girls Illiteracy in Pakistan
In Pakistan 1 in 2 girls is still illiterate, despite the increase of girls literacy by 8% in the last ten years.
Girls Illiteracy in Pakistan
Mary Robinson: Women’s rights are very closely linked because of what we call
the “feminization of poverty”. The majority of those living in
poverty, which is living in refugee camps, a majority who are
trying to cope on a dollar a day, are women, are families headed by
Narrator: Ten years after Cairo, there has been huge progress but it’s been
uneven. Over half of all countries have adopted laws on women’s
rights, ratified the United Nations Conventions, or established
national commissions for women. While many countries have
introduced laws to prevent violence against women, these are often
not enforced. And only 42 countries have increased public
spending on schools, and only 16 have increased the number of
girls’ secondary schools.
In Pakistan, despite girls’ literacy increasing by eight per cent in
the last 10 years, one in two girls is still illiterate. Purdah, the
practice of secluding women from the gaze of unrelated men, can
confine many young women to their homes, uneducated, unable to
contribute to their wider community.
Hina lives in Koorangi, a poor industrial area of Karachi, the
youngest of five sisters. She’s the only one to continue her studies
to college level. But Hina’s the exception in a country where less
than one in five girls complete secondary school. Sahrina, Hina’s
mother, was left to provide for her four youngest daughters after
her husband died four years ago. Sahrina had never been to school.
Although, her in-laws pressured her to give up her house and move
in with them, she refused, determined to maintain independence
for herself and her daughters.
Hina: They wanted her to sell the house. They said we’ll get you a house,
we’ll look after you. But we thought if they’d never helped us
while we were here, what would they do there?
Narrator: At 17, Hina is now in her final years of secondary school. It was
her mother, who only too aware of the vulnerability of being
uneducated persuaded Hina to finish her studies.
Hina: My mother wanted at least one daughter to have a higher
education. Before, to be honest, I wasn’t so interested but when I
saw how keen she was, I also felt I must continue at least up to
twelfth grade. I would not be able to study further if my father was
here, definitely not at college level. He was very strict about
Purdah. He wouldn’t even let my sisters go out of the door, only I
would come and go. Now it's essential. My sisters weren’t that
interested in studying. I mean they knew he would not let them
study further so they thought, “Why bother”.
Narrator: The sisters support the family by preparing clips for shoes and
Tarrant bags. They earn about 14 cents for every 450 clips. But
economic independence hasn’t been easy. Hina’s eldest sister,
Sughra, works in a factory, a first for this all female household but
this was frowned upon by her extended family.
Sharina Iqbal: They’d say, “Look, Iqbal’s daughter is working, his wife is
working, she’s working in people’s homes”. I listened and listened,
I kept quiet. Then I said, “If you cover our daily expenses, I’ll keep
my daughters at home”.
Narrator: Hina pays her college fees by doing some beautician work but
mainly by teaching local children at her home. Her determination
to finish her studies means she has to venture out alone, and she’s
criticized as a result.
Hina: Obviously as I go to college, on the way people talk, I’ll let them.
You should feel okay about yourself. I don’t take these things too
seriously. But the route, it’s difficult, it’s quite a distance. Once,
two boys started following me. I told them off myself. I want to do
something, which will be of benefit to me and to others. Like
teaching or doing some beauty parlor work. I mean, so that I can
save up and open a school.
Mary Robinson: There has been progress at some level mainly in getting the
message out to women at grassroots level who--until this message
comes to them, do not believe they have rights at all or that they
have a right to equality, or that their daughters have a right to
education, just in the same way as their sons. So getting the
message out networking; promoting education particularly of the
girl child, has been very important.
Girls Illiteracy in Pakistan
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