The presence of misogyny and sexism has devastating consequences for any society. Especially because women don’t get the opportunities to excel in their career or any other facet of life. The chauvinistically constituted structure of society itself limits women’s access to resources. To allow such a state of affairs to continue would be to ignore the constant violation of women’s fundamental human rights. This country’s urban areas have gradually begun to change in this regard, but rural areas remain trapped in the darkness of male chauvinism. Women often face constant domestic violence, and risk expulsion from their homes if they speak out against such barbarism. Developed countries have realised the potential of their women, and this has been a milestone in their progress and development. Women work side by side with men in rising China as well. The Chinese workforce takes full advantage of women’s talent. In Pakistan however, there is a lack of qualified women, and few if any, are ever appointed to positions of real power. In most policy making circles, women are mere participants without any real powers to exercise. The situation is the same in diplomacy. Women are rarely given the portfolio of chief negotiator in negotiations with important countries like India or Afghanistan. In war, women and children suffer the most. Perhaps this is why international peace organization acknowledge women’s indispensable role in preventing war and achieving sustainable peace. ‘Women Waging Peace’, a grassroots peace movement comprising thousands of Israeli and Palestinian women marched on Jerusalem in 2015, demanding peace between Israel and Palestine. However, mainstream international media paid no attention to the movement. Women’s role in sustaining peace has also been recognised by the United Nations (UN). Its Resolution 1325has urged the UN Secretary General to expand women’s role in UN operations; including as military observers, humanitarian workers and civil police. The resolution urges all member states to take effective measures to protect women from gender-based violence and armed conflict. The Pakistani government — to say the least — has not been efficient in implementing this resolution in letter and spirit. In many parts of the world — including Pakistan — women are perceived as frail. This is a socially constructed concept, as history is replete with great women who have hailed from multiple vocations. They have even been rulers; such as Cleopatra, the last Pharaoh of Egypt; Theodora; Empress of Byzantium; Amalasuntha, queen of the Goths; Suiko of Japan; Isabella of Castile and Razia Sultana of Delhi. The clergy makes things worse by encouraging sexism in the name of religion, culture and social norms. However, this same clergy fails to provide any meaningful insight into the brutal sexual violence that occurs against women and minors in this country, nor has it been able to come up with a plan to stop such incidents from occuring In a patriarchal society like Pakistan where women are kept highly dependent on men, they are prevented from make decisions about their own life. This includes important and life-altering decisions like if, when and whom to marry. How can we expect that such a society will ever progress or develop? We Pakistanis love perceiving ourselves as victims, and often claim that it is the conspiracies of other nations which keep our country from progressing. Meanwhile, we ignore our own flaws — including how women are treated in this country. Currently we are in the ending stages of a prolonged war against terrorism. Peace is slowly returning to conflict areas. If this process is to be accelerated, women ought to work side by side with men. More women’s schools and vocational institutes are urgently needed. Change can be achieved through such an approach, and it is needed urgently. Women’s seats remain vacant in various Pakistani departments — often because of sexist ideas that permeate our society. The clergy makes things worse by encouraging sexism in the name of religion, culture and social norms. However, this same clergy fails to provide any meaningful insight into the brutal sexual violence that occurs against women and minors in this country, nor has it been able to come up with a plan to stop such incidents from happening. They remain preoccupied with their meaningless slogans and keeping women confined to the household. Pakistan’s quota system maintains a limited levels of women’s participation. Qualified women from engineering and medical universities lose opportunities because of the limited number of seats available. Government’s must consider eliminating this system, and come up with a mechanism to ensure merit so that the best talent is recruited regardless of gender. Including in diplomacy and other conflict resolution related fields, as this would promote peaceful resolution instead of escalation. Woman are fully capable of leading and participating in decision making, and contributing to a country’s economy and society. It has been proven that achieving gender equality helps improve societies by preventing conflict and boosting economies, and we cannot afford to ignore this any longer. The writer is postdoctoral fellow at Centre for South Asia, London School of Economics and Political Science United Kingdom. She is serving as Assistant Professor at the department of Defence and Diplomatic Studies Fatima Jinnah Women University Rawalpindi Published in Daily Times, April 25th 2018.