GP Short Notes # 732, 18 September 2023
Pakistan has seen little to no improvement in reaching Gender Parity, where gaps in all sectors remain wide
On 18 September, an editorial in Dawn on “Pakistan’s other crisis” by Maleeha Lodhi examined Pakistan’s Human Development Crisis. The author informs of the economic crisis facing Pakistan caused by chronic fiscal deficit and external imbalances leading to a never-ending balance of payment problem. The crisis has to face the adverse global market, where the forex reserves have seen no change despite IMF bailout loan. The editorial states that there is another crisis facing Pakistan which is the crisis in Human development. With all indicators of literacy, health, education and social justice seeing a steep decline.
Education and Human Development Index
Pakistan Human Capital Review pushes for increased attention to Human capital development. The UNDP’s Global Human Development Report of 2022 ranked Pakistan at 161 positions out of 192 countries and the World Bank rates Pakistan in Human Capital Index lowest amongst all South Asian countries. Lodhi points out that the education deficit should be of concern but is nowhere near the country’s priorities, where Pakistan has the second largest number of children where a staggering 44 per cent are not in school or drop out of one. With a vibrant youth demographic, the lack of education has led to 40 per cent of the population being illiterate, amongst the lowest in the South Asian region.
Health survey and Poverty crisis
Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey found an astonishing gender gap where 61 per cent of the rural women were illiterate. Poverty alleviation has equally seen no growth with malnourishment, inflationary prices, and job scarcity have further raised the woes. The World Bank estimated that poverty in Pakistan has increased by 5 per cent bringing it to 39.4 per cent in 2023. With that, the country faces a public health crisis with 40 per cent of Pakistani children under five stunted as reported by the Human Capital Review. Children in Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are found to have the most aggregate of stunted children with the former being at 50 per cent and the latter at 48 per cent. Despite the alarming reports, the government taken no measures to address them.
Pakistan has seen little to no improvement in reaching Gender Parity, where gaps in all sectors remain wide. According to World Economic Forums Global Gender Report 2023, Pakistan has performed even worse ranking 132 out of 142 countries for education and 132 out of 146 countries in health and survival. The aggregates fail to show the systemic challenges and injustices the women in Pakistan face. The overall picture for Pakistan remains bleak as the author warns that: “Pakistan may be sleepwalking to a disaster that can only be ignored at great peril to the country’s stability, economic progress and prosperity.”