Earlier civilisations such as Babylonian, Egyptian, European, Arab and Indian depict a heartwrenching status of women. They were treated worse than slaves, buried or burnt alive and considered as a cause of the evil. No one talked about their rights even when slavery was abolished. Magna Carta followed by French and Russian revolutionsmade women active players in male dominated societies. Now in the 21st century, their role is acknowledged in building nations. They are found in political and administrative arena in the form of Angela Merkel as German Chancellor, Hasina Wajid as Bangladeshi premier, Colinda Graber as Croatian President and Christine Lagarde as the IMF’s managing director. Their participation has been rising in almost every sector whether its health, sports, media, politics, traditional business or agricultural activities. Their literacy has been increasing rapidly in some places; gender gap in education has been shrinking worldwide and their number in elected office is increasing – a good omen for the development of any country.However, despite these notable advances, gender disparities still persist. Women make up a little more than half of the population but represent only 40 percent of the global labour force. The global economy can never reach its potential while the talent of half of its population remains under appreciated. The tremendous potential economic contribution from women remain untapped in number of countries. Despite progress in closing gender gap pertaining to education; literacy rates are still lower for women especially in Africa, Middle East and South Asia. In Pakistan, Sindh and Baluchistan manifest abysmal status of women education. In a similar vein, lack of basic rights, gender gap in access to social and financial services; all have implications of women economic prosperity. IMF report on pursuing women economic empowerment demonstrates that poor growth in GDP manifests gender gap whereas closing it uplifts growth. The analysis of world economic data of the past 30 years also highlights that rate of progress is higher in countries where women’s contribution of GDP is higher. In this regard, South Korea, Vietnam and China are prominent examples. According to Christine Lagarde, closing gender gap in Japan could boost GDP by 9%, India by 27% and by 30% in Pakistan. Therefore, gender equality is the herald of development in any civilised society. Through gender equality, living standard of the nation improves and circulation of money increases as shown in Turkey, China and Singapore.It is pertinent to mention that women participation promulgates democratic culture and improvement in the provision of fundamental rights to massesIn addition, World Bank elucidates that the economy of the country can never reach its potential where talent of its women remains untapped. For instance, it is shown that if African countries had closed the gender gap in schooling as quickly as East Asia did, this would have produced close to a doubling of per-capita income growth in the region and health implications.According to Tawakkol Karman, human civilisation is the fruit of the effort of both women and men. Hence, when women are treated unjustly and are deprived of their natural right, all social deficiencies and cultural illnesses will be unfolded, and in the end the whole community will suffer. It is pertinent to mention that women participation promulgates democratic culture and improvement in the provision of fundamental rights to masses. When it comes to Pakistan, it remains undeniable that women participation manifested improvement over the years. Their participation in such a large number in anti-government movement is unprecedented in Pakistan’s history. Similarly, re-election in NA-10 (Shangla) and NA-48 (North Waziristan) where women votes were less than 10 percent of the total polled votes is the ray of hope in closing gender gap. History reflects that women’s involvement in politics has always played a great role since independence in the form of Fatima Jinnah, Begum Raana Liaqat, Begum M. Ali Johar, Bi Amman, Begum Jahan Shah Nawaz and many others.On the other hand, human development index (HDI) of the nation improves due to gender equality but Pakistan manifests a gloomy image since it stands at 150 in HDI’s 2018 rankings. According to political analyst, Dr.Farukh Saleem, health, education and income are the main components of HDI. In health, Pakistan is the riskiest country for new-borns- 55 deaths /1000 births. In recent times, the Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) has certainly improved women lives to some extent but simultaneously it has not enhanced their say in family affairs. Similarly, KP education system manifested significant improvement pertaining to girl’s education as per AlifAilan and Pakistan Economic Survey 2018. Undoubtedly, educated women play a pivotal role to prevent unsustainable population growth according to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The logic is that educated healthy women are more able to engage in productive activities and they are also more likely to have fewer children because rampant population growth can become a dire threat.There are some daunting and formidable challenges in the way such as religious extremism which holds women back. Extremist groups such as ISIS represent a complete loss of freedom. Similarly, violent extremism has adversely affected women’s mobility in tribal areas of KPK and Baluchistan. This affected access to health-care facilities and household incomes in the region. Pew research reports highlighted that there are over 48 countries that hold religious restrictions. They’re often seen as a barrier to gender parity. Furthermore, religious taboos and socio-cultural barriers are an insurmountable challenge for smooth development. Most women are bound to domestic chores and are not allowed to take major decisions. Early marriages, restrictions in education/employment and other factors are amongst key hindrances towards economic growth.To address imbalanced development, implementation of constitutional rights in true spirit should be enforced, as Article 25 (1) (2) (3), 32, 34 and 18th amendment – entail equality, protection, discourage discrimination, promote women participation in legislation and other affairs of states. Likewise, the world has witnessed remarkable achievement in closing gender gap through MDGs, which are now known as Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Goal 5 promulgates equality and women empowerment and all the 17 goals depend on its achievement. Moreover, inculcate Islamic teachings in universities harnesses productive outcomes. Islam empowers women in personal, social, economic and political spheres of life. It does not differentiate between the rights of men and women but suggests a certain balance between them to maintain an equilibrium in a society. Quaid -e-Azam rightly said that “No nation could rise to the height of glory, unless your women are side by side with you. It is a crime against humanity that our women are shut-up within the four walls of the houses as prisoners”.The writer is a Lahore-based environmentalist and CSS aspirantPublished in Daily Times, March 19th 2019.