What do you say when a country claiming to be Islamic in nature, praises the Prophet’s (PBUH) mercy, nobility and remains silent while women are beaten mercilessly. What does one do when they see mutilated corpses come to exist in the name of perpetual honour? How does one justify the inhumane treatment women face in Pakistan? You can’t and what’s more sad is that you won’t be able do so otherwise. You see it’s not just the fault of the typical traditional Mulla mindset, the patriarchal male of today or the investigative media; it’s also your fault. You, the parents of young daughters, who feel confined by the social pressure which their peers place upon them, are also responsible for gender discrimination. Parents living in a Pakistani community are by far the most interactive, engaging and chatty household figures in the world. So what happens when you don’t allow your daughter to go to school after tenth grade, but you allow your son to go abroad for his MBA, you set a precedent. A precedent, which clearly reeks of male dominance and supremacy. Now putting that precedent into play, you’ve effectively set an example for all your friends and family that women are not to pursue further studies and believe it or not people will follow your example. Every time a daughter will express her desire to study, she’ll hear the words, “Look at Farrakh uncle’s daughter, even she quit school after tenth grade, why do you want to go?” Gradually the whole society accepts it as a way of life. So much so that when you’re granddaughter wants to study, she can’t and when you say “what will people say” and blame it on the society, I hope you remember that you also played an important part. Gender discrimination is only one of the major problems faced by Pakistan, amongst terrorism, intolerance and poverty. According to the Global Gender Gap Index, 2015, Pakistan stands at the bottom – 144 out of 145 countries in the world. The index, prepared annually by the World Economic Forum, examines the gap between men and women covering four fundamental aspects: economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment. It has resulted in girls being deprived of basic primary education, honour killings, inequality in job offers and wages etc. Gender inequality stems from the Pakistani social custom of placing sons above daughters as it is believed that males will grow up to work and sustain the house, while females will become housewives and stay at home. Men are perceived as the major providers and protectors of a family while women are perceived as playing only a supportive role, attending to the hearth. Boys and girls are accordingly trained for different adult roles, status and authority. This results in education for boys are being prioritised, while girls are forced to stay at home. A survey carried out in urban areas of Sindh showed 75.35%, of the survey respondents – the mothers of newborn babies, were of the opinion that their husbands and mother-in-law always wanted to have a son; however, 24.65% admitted that having son is their biggest desire. In many families, daughters are linked to severe [economic and financial] loss. One of the responding mothers informed that she works as an accountant in local office; she said that her brothers always mentioned the high expenses the family has borne upon her education and marriage. She added that it has been her untold duty to give water or press the clothes of her brother and now to her husband. “In my entire life neither my brother nor my husband ever give me water or press my clothes,” the mother of three children informed. Gender discrimination has resulted in multiple injustices being carried out such as a large gender pay gap, occupational segregation, denial of promotions to leadership, a glass ceiling in different professions, increased casualisation of women workers and feminisation of poverty, trafficking, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, honour killings, violence against women in domestic spheres, work place and public spaces, and lower levels of equation and work opportunities. The gender pay gap in Pakistan is so great that the female labour force participation rate is 22pc versus that for men at 67.8pc; women are paid 23pc less than men for similar work; women’s average monthly income is Rs 9,760 when compared to men’s monthly earnings of Rs 15,884, and only 0.3pc women are employed as managers, 6.4pc as professionals and 0.9pc as technical workers (Labour Force Survey 2014-2015). Compensation marriages, known variously as vanni, swara and sang chatti, occur, which are the traditional practice of forced marriage of women and young girls in order to resolve tribal feuds in parts of Pakistan. Although illegal, it is still widely practiced in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Today’s estimates indicate that one in three girls in Pakistan is married before her 18th birthday. Child marriage’s consequences can be crippling. Fortunately, last month, a new law was passed: Sindh became the first individual province in Pakistan to declare marriage before age 18 a violation of the rights of children. Child marriage now carries a punishment of Rs 45,000 ($457) and up to three years in prison. Poverty is among the primary motivations for child marriage in Pakistan, and for some girls, marriage can be a path to greater financial stability and well being, especially if their husbands’ families are able to pay for these girls to continue their education. The reality is that there are few job opportunities for girls to contribute to the household income, particularly in rural communities. Families with girls must choose between living in deep poverty or getting rid of the economic burden of daughters. The strict implementation of laws for the protection of women is the only way forward to ensure relief to the women of Pakistan. A number of legislations brought forth by different regimes have already failed to check the discrimination against women in different spheres, within four walls of the house or in the outer world for working ladies. These legislations have not brought any tangible change in the society in regard to the protection of women and child rights. What we need is change from the roots. Educating the lower classes is an essential step in doing some to stop thinking as women as lower class citizens, economic burdens on their family, to be married off as soon as possible, with no education whatsoever. The patriarchy needs to be done away with. Then, and only then can this terrible blight of gender discrimination be destroyed in Pakistan.