Causes Of Women Illiteracy In Pakistan

Syeda Mehroz Zahra

Man is composed of two basic elements i.e. nature and nurture. In upbringing process, parents have a major participation in which mother offers an ample share. Thus an educated mother will lay the foundation of healthy civilized family. So we can say that the entire personality of a person is an outcome of his mother’s training.
The constitution of Pakistan provides full participation of women in all spheres of life constituting more than 50% of the total population, but the literacy rate in females is just 36% as compared to men that is 64%. The ratio of primary schools for girls and boys is 4 and 10 respectively.
Such attitude of discrimination is not new in the educational system of Pakistan. Pakistan inherited it from the history.
After 1857 when Sir Syed came on the surface with the slogan of educational improvement of the Muslims but the women were ignored. At that time books like “Bahishti Zaiwar”, “Miratul Uroos” popped up to identify the limits for the women. The object of these books was the negation of awareness to women and their confinement to the family only.
Moulvi Mumtaz Ali Khan researched and wrote a book named “Huqook-e- Niswan”. Sir Syed advised him not to publish the book. Sir Syed was of view that modern education could bring instability in the lives of women and ignorance of their right would make them contented. Despite, Moulvi Mumtaz published his book which faced stiff resistance from the literate male class of the Muslims.
Religiously, people are of the view that Islam does not permit a women or girls to step beyond the limits of house. Modern education can make her a party girl instead of making her a house wife.
That’s why Taliban are blasting and attacking the girl’s schools in Swat and Northern areas of Pakistan. However, the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) strongly emphasized on education by saying that, “It is the prime duty of men and women to acquire education”.
The first cause of women illiteracy is the increase in population, which is playing a negative role in this deprivation of female education. A family having more number of children and less income will prefer to educate the boys of the family, while the girls will be given embroidery or sewing skills. Secondly, there is also a misconception that females merely have to manage a home after being married where as males have to earn so education matters only for males but not for females. Thirdly, we have observed that traditionally, women are considered as the asset of males of the family. So these males are responsible for taking decisions of their lives. In most cases, males don’t allow their sisters or daughters to go to schools or universities.
Additionally, some families do not like their daughters to study in co-education institutes thus depriving them of higher education. Fourthly, the social setup is a male dominated one. Girls cannot move freely thus any male of the family has to take responsibility of her care. This sometimes seems difficult to them. There is also a sharp division between female oriented work and male oriented work.
Females are not allowed to work in all spheres of life therefore their education is not considered valuable. Fifthly, the number of schools and colleges for females are very less. Girls have to travel a long distance to reach the schools or colleges, for this reason most of the parents prefer to give them religious education. Lastly, every government talks about the importance of female education but none of them has given attention to it.
In Multan the plan of separate women university and women medical college was announced yet these plans have not seen the light of the day.
Media brought awareness to the people thus bringing female fighter pilots in PAF and projecting women in every sphere of life. Islam does not restrict education to females. Islam is a flexible religion and it allows equal opportunities of education to both sexes. The need is to interpret it in its real essence.
Last but not the least, no society can progress by restricting more than half of its population in the abyss of ignorance and a maze of undue limits.
Napoleons once said about the role of mothers in building process of a nation that,
“Give me the best mothers; I will give you the best nation.”