Sunday, August 9, 2009

Female Literacy Lags Far Behind in India and Pakistan

QUESTION

Beyond basic necessities like food and shelter, few things matter more than education — which begins with achieving literacy. However, in many parts of the world, literacy disparities between the genders have devastating consequences not just for the equality of the sexes, but also for women's economic prospects. We wonder: Which of the following major countries or regions has the largest gap between the literacy rates of adult men and women?



ANSWER

A. Latin America

B. Arab states

C. Sub-Saharan Africa

D. India

A.

Latin America is not correct.

In Latin America and the Caribbean as a whole, literacy — defined as the ability to read and write a simple statement on one's daily life — is high, averaging 91 percent. The region has also accomplished considerable gender equality, with the literacy rate for men only 1 percentage point above that for women. Brazil, Latin America's most populous country, also has a high adult literacy rate, at 90 percent — and Argentina's is even higher, at 98 percent.

B.

Arab states is not correct.

With an overall literacy rate of just 71 percent, literacy in Arab states significantly lags that in Latin America. In addition, men in that region are significantly more likely to be literate than women, with a male literacy rate of 80 percent and that of females at just 62 percent. The literacy gap is especially large in Yemen, at 37 percentage points. In comparison, the gap stands at 17 percentage points in Egypt and 10 points in Saudi Arabia.

C.

Sub-Saharan Africa is not correct.

Sub-Saharan Africa's overall literacy rate is 62 percent, with women's literacy (54 percent) lagging that of men (71 percent) by 17 percentage points — an indicator of considerable discrimination in providing access to primary education. Too often, when family resources to pay for education are scarce, the choice is made to send boys to school — and few, if any, girls. In the region's largest country, Nigeria, overall performance stands at 72 percent — considerably better than that of sub-Saharan Africa as a whole. And yet, with men's literacy 16 percentage points higher than women's, it also discriminates against women in this respect.

D.

India is correct.

Despite India's high-tech successes, the country lags in providing all its citizens with basic education. With an overall adult literacy rate of only 66 percent, India lags significantly behind China (93 percent), according to data from UNESCO. In addition, at 77 percent, men in India have a literacy rate that is 22 percentage points higher than that of women (55 percent). India's literacy gender gap is thus worse than the average gap of 18 percentage points in the world's least-developed countries.

Source: San Jose Mercury News

Note: Pakistan's gender gap of 27% in literacy is worse than India's 22%. At overall literacy rate of only 52%, and with more than 50 million people illiterate, Pakistan has one of the lowest literacy rates in Asia. The literacy rate for males over 15 years is 63% while that for females is 36% in Pakistan. Only Yemen's literacy rate and gender gap is worse than South Asia's.

Related Links:

UNESCO Literacy Report

Female Genocide Unfolding in India

Challenges of Indian Democracy

Status of Women in Pakistan

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

Riaz, occasionally admitting that India is better(on relative terms) than Pakistan would help to improve your credibility. After all, fighting for 181st and 192nd position in poverty/illiteracy is a skill in which these neighbours are good at. Anyway, be it Pakistan/India what would be interesting is the trend..Absolute numbers are horrible in both countries because of decades of underinvestment and corruption in public education..In India, the trend is up - ie, an Indian woman born in 2008 is more likely to be enrolled in primary school than her ancestors in 60s - of course, it may take several decades for this trend to show up in numbers. In Pakistan, I am not sure whether the trend is up or not - I guess flat at best. Arab states fare better than subcontinent, but given their oil wealth, the number is hopeless..

- Zen, Munich, Germany

Anonymous said...

You have quoted from the following url

http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_13024839?IADID=Search-www.mercurynews.com-www.mercurynews.com

However the following url pdf was not having these exact reference on my quick reading of the pdf file

http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0016/001631/163170e.pdf

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a >WEF assessment of gender gap in South Asia and Islamic world as among the worst:

Despite government’s efforts at empowering women and some of them occupying top positions in various sectors, India stood at a dismally low position of 53 among 58 countries for "gender gap," according to a survey by the World Economic Forum (WEF).

The survey showed that India was just above Korea, Jordan, Pakistan, Turkey and Egypt which occupied the last five positions in that order but below Bangladesh which got the 39th slot. Sri Lanka and Nepal were not included in the countries surveyed.

However, Indian women got high rating for political empowerment, where they were rated at 24th position, health and well-being (34) and economic opportunity (35).

What dragged them down was educational attainment where they got a low ranking -- 57th position -- and economic participation in which they occupied 54th position.

The survey took into consideration economic participation, economic opportunity, political empowerment, educational attainment and health and well-being.

The top five positions were occupied by Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Denmark and Finland followed by New Zealand, Canada, Britain, Germany and Australia. The United States occupied 17th position but got low rating in providing economic opportunity to women (46th).

Despite being among the richest countries, it scored the 42nd position for health and well-being of women. However, in education attainment it was placed at 8th position and for economic participation at 19th.

Overall, the survey gave India a score of 3.27 points on a scale of 1-7 where seven represented the top score.

Bangladesh, with just an overall score of 3.74, got the 39th position as it had done well in economic participation (18th rank), educational attainment and health (37) and well-being (37). Its ranking, however, dropped to 53 for economic opportunity and 42 for political empowerment.

China occupied 33rd position with an overall ranking of 4.01 points. Economic participation of women was its strongest point for which it occupied 9th position but for economic opportunity, its position dropped down to 23.

The ranking further went down for political empowerment (40) and educational attainment (46). But was slightly better for health and well-being at 36.

Out of the seven predominantly Muslim nations covered by the study, Bangladesh (39) and Malaysia (40) outperformed Indonesia (46), while Jordan (55), Pakistan (56), Turkey (57) and Egypt (58) occupied the bottom four ranks.

Traditional and deeply conservative attitudes regarding the role of women had made their integration into the world of public decision-making extremely difficult, the survey alleged.

Anonymous said...

Riaz,

You will be surprised to know that literacy gap of Indian muslims is much better compared to Indian average and Pakistan.

According to Census 2001 its 67.6 and 50.1 per cent for Muslim males and females literacy rate respectively. In fact the gender gap in literacy among the Muslims is much less than Hindus. It is 17.5 per cent as compared to the 22percent national average

Riaz Haq said...

According to UNICEF, scientific evidence available today tells us that in India alone more than 1 million child lives could be saved from scaling up known and proven cost effective interventions. With over 240 million children under the age of five, India contributes 25 percent of the world’s child deaths. It is evident that a major turnaround in India will ensure a significant impact globally!

The Education For All-Global Monitoring Report, released recently, says that out of the total 759 million illiterate adults in the world, India still has the highest number. “Over half of the illiterate adults live in just four countries: Bangladesh, China, India and Pakistan,” the report said, adding the progress has been “painfully slow” and threatens to obstruct the Millennium Development Goals.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a novel use of cell phones in Pakistan to improve literacy:

A literacy programme delivered through the mobile phone to disadvantaged female learners in Punjab showed improved literacy skills.

The five-month programme, initiated by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), targeted 250 females aged 15 to 24 years old in three districts.

Pakistan, with half its population illiterate, is the fourth largest contributor to the world illiterate population. The literacy rate for males is 63 per cent, compared to only 36 per cent for females, making the country with one of the widest gap in this region.

One of the main challenges in promoting literacy in the country is the lack of interest, Ichiro Miyazawa of UNESCO Islamabad, told FutureGov. “Many youths, after attending the basic literacy course, often relapse into illiteracy because the available reading materials are either too difficult or not interesting enough.”

In this pilot project which ended last month, these learners who have just completed the basic literacy course, were given a mobile phone each. They receive three text messages a day in the local language. They are required to practise reading and writing the messages in their work book and reply to their teachers by text.

Monthly assessments held at the learning centres showed improvement in literacy skills. While results varied in the three districts – Lahore, Sialkot and Hafizabad – learners who scored C reduced from an average of 52 per cent to 12 per cent.

UNESCO invested US$57 per learner to run this trial programme. Miyazawa expected that cost could be lowered to US$33 if the mobile phones were reused by at least three learners.

“We want the programme to be sustainable. If the learner wishes to continue after completing the programme, he or she can pay US$6 to keep the phone and continue receiving the messages,” he added.

While it will take some time to create awareness and gain acceptance, Miyazawa is confident that the benefits will quickly win the population. “56 per cent of learners and their family members were initially negative about the programme. The parents, in particularly, disapproved of their children carrying mobile phones and doubted that the phones would be used for learning. However, 87 per cent of them were satisfied with the effectiveness of the programme at the end.”

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a British report of India complaining about "poverty porn":

Diplomatic officials are preparing to lodge a complaint with Ofcom, the media watchdog, about the content of McCloud's Channel 4 series, Slumming It.

In the two-part documentary, the Grand Designs host visited Mumbai's squalid Dharavi slum. It showed children living amongst open sewers, dead rats and toxic waste, and residents scavenging on the city's rubbish dump.

Sources say the Indian High Commission in London granted a filming permit in the belief that McCloud was making a programme highlighting Mumbai's architectural history, and officials were horrified to see the end result.

"We thought it would be about the architecture of Mumbai but it was only about slums, nothing else. He was showing dirty sewage and dead rats, children playing amongst rubbish and people living in these small rooms. He never talked about architecture at all.

"This was poverty porn made to get ratings, and we are upset," the source said.

"Many people know India but for people who don't travel, they will think all of India is like this. Of course it will affect our tourism. It is not representative at all.

"We are not saying, 'Don't show Dharavi', but the show was not balanced. There is so much more to Mumbai and so much more to India."

The original synopsis submitted by the programme-makers said: "Kevin McCloud's passions are buildings and people and he will explore the architecture of Mumbai... Maharashtrian, British, Gothic and post-modern."

The source said: "When the production company applied, they said the name of the documentary was going to be Grand Designs. They said it was part of a 'celebration of all things India' and that he would look at different kinds of architecture. He didn't do any of this.

"Only occasionally did he mention the community spirit and the low crime rate and the fact that rubbish is recycled there.

"People forget that this nation is 60 years old. We are a young nation and it's not easy to bring 300 million people out of poverty just like that."

Slumming It was part of Channel 4's ongoing Indian Winter season. Of the five programmes shown so far, four have been set in the Mumbai slums, including a 'Slumdog' version of The Secret Millionaire.

The source accused Channel 4 of "cashing in on the success of Slumdog Millionaire", the Oscar-winning film which kicked off the season.

McCloud has praised the community spirit in Dharavi, claiming that the British government could use it as a model for "social sustainability". The Prince of Wales has hailed Dharavi as a model for urban planning.

In a joint statement, Channel 4 and the production company, talkbackThames, said: "We have not received a complaint from the India High Commission. The programme explores if city planners and architects can learn from the way Asia’s biggest slum has evolved and developed high levels of sustainability. Kevin McCloud follows everyday life in Dharavi and the film is a balanced and insightful account of his experience there.

"While it raises issues such as acute levels of poverty and the lack of sanitation, the programme also highlights many positive aspects of life in Dharavi such as the real sense of community as well as low levels of crime and unemployment. We believe that the film raises some important points around the issues of poverty, sustainability and city planning and is clearly in the public interest.”

Riaz Haq said...

Here is a Times of India report about Transparency International Survey:

Around seven lakh BPL households in India paid bribe in the last one year to avail services related to school education of their children - the total amount paid as bribe being estimated to be around Rs 12 crore. Another nine lakh BPL households used contacts to get their child admitted or promoted in school. However, another five lakh BPL households weren't that lucky - their children couldn't avail such services because they were either too poor to pay bribe or had absolutely no contact or influence to use as an advantage.

The survey - that covered 22,728 randomly selected BPL households across 31 states and union territories - said a majority of those who paid bribe did so for getting their children admitted in the school or for getting promotion of their children from one class to another. Issuing school-leaving certificate was another lucrative business for corrupt schools authorities. However, the amount bribed was highest when it came for allotment of hostel. In comparison, a higher proportion of urban BPL households (40%) paid bribe for new admission and issuance of certificate as against rural areas (33%).

On the other hand, a higher proportion of rural BPL households (32%) paid bribe for promotion of their children from one class to another as against urban households (28%). The same is the case in applying for scholarship where 12% rural BPL families paid bribe compared to 3% urban BPL households. Of those who paid bribe, 86% paid it directly to officials of the school while 12% paid it through middlemen.

According to the report, on an average, a BPL household had to pay Rs 171 as bribe in the last one year related to school education of their children. While looking at states with moderate or high corruption in the school education sector, the level of corruption in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Meghalaya and Goa was found to be “alarming”.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a recent BBC report about fetus dumping in Gujarat:

Authorities in the western Indian state of Gujarat say they have recovered more than a dozen human foetuses from a rubbish bin in the city of Ahmedabad.

They suspect the foetuses could have been dumped by local abortion clinics which have been conducting illegal sex determination tests.

The unborn babies' bodies have been sent for post-mortem examinations.

It is thought millions of female foetuses may have been aborted in India over the past 20 years.

India, where boys have traditionally been favoured over girls, banned gender selection and selective abortion in 1994.

Ante-natal tests to determine the sex of babies is banned in India but the practice carries on despite the law.

The BBC's Rathin Das in Ahmedabad says the foetuses were found in the east of the city on Monday morning. Some were in broken jars which have been sent for forensic examination.

Our correspondent says the recovery of so many foetuses has raised fears that they could be the result of illegal abortions conducted after sex determination tests confirmed the unborn babies were female.

Female foeticide has led to an unbalanced sex ratio in many northern districts of Gujarat, and in other states in India.

Ahmedabad's chief medical officer said some of the foetuses could have originated from legitimate abortions but that the clinics would then still be guilty of negligently dumping bio-medical waste.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a partial transcript of a recent NPR ToTn dscussion about a book "Paradise Beneath Her Feet" written Isabel Coleman about women;s rights in Islam:


CONAN: And let me anticipate some questions from our audience. Some might argue that there are aspects of Islam and some cultural traditions, too, that seem incompatible with equality for women.

Ms. COLEMAN: I think that's probably true, that there are aspects, if you read the Christian Bible quite literally, that pose challenges for women, and that's absolutely true of the Quran. There are passages in the Quran that pose challenges for women's rights within Islam.

But that doesn't mean that you can't still look at the text and contextualize them. What many of the men and women today are trying to do within Islam is argue that times change, and you have to read them differently. You have to think about them in the present, not only in the past, and find new meanings and new ways to circle that square.

CONAN: You describe this as, I think the word is ishtihad. Am I pronouncing that correctly?

Ms. COLEMAN: Yes, ishtihad, which is it's a legal process that has been within Islam for centuries, which is a process of intellectual reasoning -looking at the text and trying to work with the text to come up with answers to questions that are modern question that pertain to today and people's very real lives that they live.

CONAN: There is another school of thought, however, that what's needed to be interpreted in the Quran has been interpreted, and this is all settled by now.

Ms. COLEMAN: Indeed it is, and the book talks about the tension between these two schools, these two approaches, in effect. And you have very conservative, very narrow, traditionalist readings that prescribe a very narrow role for women in society, and you have much more progressive, open interpretations. And the book is looking at how those two different schools are interacting in today's modern world and duking it out, in effect, in countries across the Middle East.

CONAN: We want to focus, because we have a guest here who's very familiar with this work in Afghanistan, on that country, which is of course central to U.S. foreign policy right at the moment, along with Iraq and Saudi Arabia and some of the other countries you talk about. But since we have a guest from Afghanistan, let's focus there.

And we hear of an almost puritanical interpretation of Islam that informs much of the Taliban movement, which, of course, ruled Afghanistan for many years.

Ms. COLEMAN: Well, that is absolutely true. You've got a very conservative, very narrow, traditionalist perspective in Afghanistan, that prescribes the very harsh treatment of women.

I mean, the Taliban is really the worst of the worst when it comes to women. But you also have very open and modern and progressive thinkers in Afghanistan today, and unfortunately, both of these sides are really vying for position and control in that country, and women are very much on the front lines of the war that is taking place across these two sides.

CONAN: Well, let's introduce Sakena Yacoobi. She founded and directs the Afghan Institute of Learning, a nonprofit organization that provides health and education services to women and children in Afghanistan, and she joins us today here in Studio 3A in Washington. It's great to have you with us on TALK OF THE NATION.

Riaz Haq said...

The hunger and poverty among women and children in India is much worse than in Pakistan and worse than the poorest of the poor in sub-Saharan Africa.

Here's a summary of the situation of women India by the World Hunger Project:

Executive Summary

The persistence of hunger and abject poverty in India and other parts of the world is due in large measure to the subjugation, marginalization and disempowerment of women. Women suffer from hunger and poverty in greater numbers and to a great degree then men. At the same time, it is women who bear the primary responsibility for actions needed to end hunger: education, nutrition, health and family income.

Looking through the lens of hunger and poverty, there are seven major areas of discrimination against women in India:

Malnutrition: India has exceptionally high rates of child malnutrition, because tradition in India requires that women eat last and least throughout their lives, even when pregnant and lactating. Malnourished women give birth to malnourished children, perpetuating the cycle.

Poor Health: Females receive less health care than males. Many women die in childbirth of easily prevented complications. Working conditions and environmental pollution further impairs women's health.

Lack of education: Families are far less likely to educate girls than boys, and far more likely to pull them out of school, either to help out at home or from fear of violence.

Overwork: Women work longer hours and their work is more arduous than men's, yet their work is unrecognized. Men report that "women, like children, eat and do nothing." Technological progress in agriculture has had a negative impact on women.

Unskilled: In women's primary employment sector - agriculture - extension services overlook women.

Mistreatment: In recent years, there has been an alarming rise in atrocities against women in India, in terms of rapes, assaults and dowry-related murders. Fear of violence suppresses the aspirations of all women. Female infanticide and sex-selective abortions are additional forms of violence that reflect the devaluing of females in Indian society.

Powerlessness: While women are guaranteed equality under the constitution, legal protection has little effect in the face of prevailing patriarchal traditions. Women lack power to decide who they will marry, and are often married off as children. Legal loopholes are used to deny women inheritance rights.

India has a long history of activism for women's welfare and rights, which has increasingly focused on women's economic rights. A range of government programs have been launched to increase economic opportunity for women, although there appear to be no existing programs to address the cultural and traditional discrimination against women that leads to her abject conditions.


http://www.thp.org/where_we_work/south_asia/india/research_reports/chronic_hunger_and_status_of_women

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Times of India report on UNDP gender gap report indicating Bangladesh and Pakistan doing better than India:

NEW DELHI: Believe it or not when it comes to gender inequities India fares worse than Pakistan. In fact, the country fares lower than all other countries in South Asia save Afghanistan. These are the findings of the 2010 Human Development Report released by the United Nations Development Programme on Thursday as per its Gender Inequality Index.

So while Pakistan may be in the news for its treatment of women and might have become a hot bed for international women's activism, it certainly seems to know how to take care of its mothers better. On maternal mortality, India -- with its abysmal record -- trails Pakistan.

Reproductive health is the largest contributor to the inequality index. The other indicators, based on which it is calculated, include women's participation in the labour force, their level of empowerment based on educational attainment and parliamentary representation.

For maternal mortality, the figure for Pakistan is 320 deaths per 100,000 live births. In India, the corresponding figure stands at 450. The country also falters on adolescent fertility rate, another indicator of reproductive health.

As per this data, in India the adolescent fertility rate is 68 births per 1,000 live births as compared to 45 births per 1,000 live births in Pakistan. The figures illustrate that Pakistan have fewer younger mothers.

India, however, does better in female participation in the labour force, with the figure being 36% for the nation as opposed to 23% for Pakistan.

However, the country has been really found wanting on the health front.

India ranks 122 among 138 countries for which the gender inequality measure has been calculated. Pakistan is at 116, and Bangladesh is a notch higher at 112.

The other area, where India needs to do better is at the level of Parliamentary participation. India, the reports states, stands out as an exception where 30% local government seats are reserved for women. However, participation at this level has not been incorporated in the report. If India wants to fare better on this front, then Congress President Sonia Gandhi will have to keep her promise of ensuring reservation for women in Parliament and the legislative assemblies.

After all, most countries where women have found more places in Parliament are those where affirmative action has been put in place like Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and even Rwanda.

Riaz Haq said...

Anil Verma, an Indian diplomat in India, was reported for beating his wife. Here's the Times of India story:

In London, when contacted about MEA's directive, the Indian high commission said, "at this stage, we have no comment to make". Verma was not available for comments.

Verma allegedly attacked his wife after a heated argument last month, Daily Mail had reported.

A British daily on Sunday reported that Verma's wife, Paromita was found screaming with blood coming out of her nose. Her clothes were covered in blood and she had grabbed a tea towel to stem the flow.

The 'Daily Mail' also reported that Paromita has gone into hiding with her five-year-old son as she fears for her life. She left the home soon after the incident and has not returned since then.

"Throughout their time over here, Anil would boast about his diplomatic immunity and he would tell Paromita that no one could touch him because of it. He would goad her and say, 'Call the police as many times as you want. I've got diplomatic immunity'.

"He was shameless with it. He has been given so much power and he is abusing it. Paromita has gone into hiding and seriously fears that her safety and health are in jeopardy," a close family friend of the Vermas was quoted by the British newspaper as saying.

Paromita, who is working with Indian Railways and is on study leave, wants to remain in the UK on humanitarian grounds amid fears that she would be forcibly taken back to India. She has now sought extention of leave, a the daily said.

Verma is the third senior-most in the Indian mission after the high commissioner and the deputy high commissioner.

After the incident came to light, the MEA had said the high commission of India and the ministry were aware of it and were carefully looking into it.

"It involves sensitive and personal issues pertaining to individuals," it had said.

Recollecting the day of incident, Verma's family friend was quoted by the daily as saying in London, "Anil suddenly blew up on the morning of the incident. He was in his pyjamas and suddenly flew into a rage over the fact that there was a Christmas tree in the house that had been given to them from one of Paromita's relatives.

"He stormed up the stairs to grab the tree and throw it out but Paromita followed and tried to stop him because their son had been decorating it. He suddenly turned round and punched her full in the face, very hard. Paromita almost fell down the stairs but grabbed on to the bannister to steady herself.

"She was screaming and blood was pouring from her nose like a tap. Her clothes were covered in blood and she grabbed a tea towel to stem the flow. Anil did not say a word to her and did not seem to care. He started shouting at Paromita's mother, who was also in the house, abusing her too.

"The front door was open and Paromita ran outside, where her neighbours found her. They called the police and an ambulance also arrived at the scene. Neighbours took her into their house to comfort her until the police arrived," the daily said.

Police were called to the family's home in Golders Green, NorthWest London. Officers questioned the diplomat but they were powerless to arrest him because of his diplomatic status.

Riaz Haq said...

The best way to subvert the status quo and spark a revolution is to invest in girl's education, argues Nancy Gibbs in Time magazine:

We know what the birth of a revolution looks like: A student stands before a tank. A fruit seller sets himself on fire. A line of monks link arms in a human chain. Crowds surge, soldiers fire, gusts of rage pull down the monuments of tyrants, and maybe, sometimes, justice rises from the flames.

But sometimes freedom and opportunity slip in through the back door, when a quieter subversion of the status quo unleashes change that is just as revolutionary. This is the tantalizing idea for activists concerned with poverty, with disease, with the rise of violent extremism: if you want to change the world, invest in girls.

In recent years, more development aid than ever before has been directed at women--but that doesn't mean it is reaching the girls who need it. Across much of the developing world, by the time she is 12, a girl is tending house, cooking, cleaning. She eats what's left after the men and boys have eaten; she is less likely to be vaccinated, to see a doctor, to attend school. "If only I can get educated, I will surely be the President," a teenager in rural Malawi tells a researcher, but the odds are against her: Why educate a daughter who will end up working for her in-laws rather than a son who will support you? In sub-Saharan Africa, fewer than 1 in 5 girls make it to secondary school. Nearly half are married by the time they are 18; 1 in 7 across the developing world marries before she is 15. Then she gets pregnant. The leading cause of death for girls 15 to 19 worldwide is not accident or violence or disease; it is complications from pregnancy. Girls under 15 are up to five times as likely to die while having children than are women in their 20s, and their babies are more likely to die as well.......
A more surprising army is being enlisted as well. A new initiative called Girl Up girlup.org aims to mobilize 100,000 American girls to raise money and awareness to fight poverty, sexual violence and child marriage. "This generation of 12-to-18-year-olds are all givers," says executive director Elizabeth Gore, the force of nature behind the ingeniously simple Nothing but Nets campaign to fight malaria, about her new United Nations Foundation enterprise. "They gave after Katrina. They gave after the tsunami and Haiti. More than any earlier generation, they feel they know girls around the world."

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Express Tribune report on rural female literacy increase contributing to higher literacy rate in Pakistan:

ISLAMABAD: The quest for knowledge in rural areas, particularly in females, compensated for the declining trend of getting an education in cities, according to the Pakistan Labour Force survey.

In 2009-10 the literacy rate in Pakistan marginally increased to 57.7 per cent due to an increase in the literacy ratio of females in rural areas. During the preceding year the literacy rate was 57.4 per cent. The male literacy rate stood at 69.5 per cent while it was 45.2 per cent for females.

According to the official definition, the literacy rate is that percentage of the population ten years and above which is able to read and write in any language.

Though more than half of the rural population is illiterate, the ratio improved by over half a percentage point to 49.2 per cent by June 30, 2010 due to an increasing number of women and girls who can read and write. The female literacy ratio improved to 34.2 per cent, a progress of 0.8 per cent in a year. In rural areas, the 63.6 per cent male literacy rate improved by only 0.4 per cent in comparison. The literacy rate in urban areas marginally declined due to a dip in the number of men who qualify as literate. The urban literacy ratio decreased 0.1 per cent to 73.2 per cent, due to a fractional reduction in the male literacy rate. At present more than eight out of ten urban males are educated but the ratio is below that of 2008-09.

The provincial literacy rates also depict interesting trends. In Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, the number of educated people increased, while it decreased in Sindh. The figure remained stagnant in Balochistan at 51.5 per cent. Punjab turned out to be the most educated province, followed by Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber -Pakhtunkhwa.

In Sindh the percentage of educated people dropped by one per cent to 58.2 per cent in 2009-10. The declining ratios were witnessed across the divide, rural, urban, females and males. Contrary to that in Punjab the literacy rate increased to 59.6 per cent. Over half of the rural population is literate and the urban literacy ratio stood at almost three-fourth in the province.

In Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa the literacy rate increased to 50.9 per cent, a progress of almost one per cent. The rural literacy rate increased to 48.4 per cent but the urban literacy dipped by 0.4 per cent. The urban literacy rate increased while the rural literacy rate declined.

In terms of level of education, near four out of ten literate people are not even matriculates. Another one out of ten is below intermediate, the survey reveals. Only 4.7 per cent of the total literate population has cleared intermediate but not bachelor’s and just 4.3 per cent have a bachelor’s or above. Even today over four out of ten Pakistanis are illiterate according to official figures.

Riaz Haq said...

UN World Food Program's initiative to provide free food and cooking oil to school children is persuading poor families to send their daughters to school in Pakistan, according to a news report:

The program has already noted success in a 62% increase in girls' attendance in the last decade.

"This is really a big help. In these times when things are so expensive, receiving [cooking] oil free of charge is a real bonus," Fareeda Bibi mentioned while placing the four-litre fortified oil tin by her tiny stove.

A tin of oil costs Rs 450 [US$5.5], and Fareeda needs at least three a month to cook for her family of eight.

"My husband earns Rs 5,000 [$61] a month as a carpenter, so our budget is tight. Over Rs 1,000 [$12.2] goes towards utility bills; we spend nearly 2,500 [$30.5] on food and then there are new shoes to be bought for the children or medical bills to pay for my parents-in-law. Every little bit that comes in free in such hard times is a bonus."

Fareeda's daughter Shama receives the oil at her school in Dera Ghazi Khan District in Pakistan's Punjab Province every month as part of a UN World Food Programme (WFP) operation run in conjunction with the government.

"The incentive is mainly to increase enrolment and keep the girls in school. The assistance is only given in girls' primary schools in Punjab. However, in NWFP [North West Frontier Province], Balochistan and Sindh, we have included boys as well," said Amjad Jamal, a WFP spokesman.

The programme had increased girls' enrolment by 25% and attendance by 62%
since 1998, said Marcelo Spinahering of WFP Pakistan. "Children are given high energy biscuits for onsite feeding in certain parts of the country. For the most part they receive take-home rations of four litres of fortified edible oil on a monthly basis and 50kg of wheat on a quarterly basis," he added.

Attitudes changing?

Fareeda said the school feeding programme had also played a part in persuading male members of her family to allow Shama to go to school, just like her two brothers.

"When they say there is no need to educate girls because they will never need to earn a living, I point out the oil we receive helps us run the house, and then they fall silent," Fareeda said, adding: "Of course it is very important to us that our daughter is being educated. I am not literate and this handicaps me."

Noor Bibi, the mother of another young schoolgirl said: "Even though we pay no fees at government schools, my husband says we spend too much on uniforms and books." The oil bonus helps 'balance' this, and she hopes to double the gains in a few years time when her two-year-old daughter is enrolled.

Fozia Hina, deputy district officer for Dera Ghazi Khan sub-district, said: "In areas such as ours, which is largely underdeveloped, parents do not like sending girls out of the house, even to school. Traditionally girls do not leave the home of their parents or husbands. Since the [cooking] oil incentive began several years ago more parents are eager to enrol kids. Mothers are keen to enrol even four-year-old girls."...


http://southasia.oneworld.net/todaysheadlines/pakistantake-home-rations-brings-girls-to-schools

Riaz Haq said...

USAID has launched a "Women In Trade" initiative in Pakistan, according to Business Recorder:

ISLAMABAD: In conjunction with several multinational firms, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) is launching the Women in Trade Initiative to increase the participation of Pakistani women in the international trade sector.

“This initiative is part of the United States’ commitment to the people of Pakistan to support women’s empowerment,” said Dr. Marilyn Wyatt, wife of US Ambassador Cameron Munter, at the launch of the Women in Trade Initiative, says a press release received here on Tuesday.

“By raising the role of women in the international trade sector, we can enable them to contribute not only to Pakistan’s economy, but to the overall development of the country.”

Under this initiative, USAID has arranged three-month internships for 17 female university graduates with well-known companies such as TARGET Sourcing Services Pakistan, TEXLYNX, NISHAT Group, and Li & Fung Pakistan.

These women will gain skills in sourcing and marketing of products, product development and diversification and supply chain management.

The international trade sector in Pakistan currently employs very few women in managerial positions.

A recent USAID-funded study has shown women comprise less than 10 percent of management and 20 percent of junior staff in trade companies.

The Women in Trade initiative will work to set up linkages between international firms and local universities so that more women have opportunities to explore careers in international trade.

The USAID-funded initiative will also help companies select the best-suited male and female university graduates for training and potential future recruitment.


http://www.brecorder.com/pakistan/business-a-economy/19935-usaid-launches-women-in-trade-initiative-in-pakistan.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here are excepts from a recent Businessweek story titled "On the job in Pakistan: Women":

When Naz Khan became Pakistan’s first female money-market trader 19 years ago, KASB Securities, the Merrill Lynch (BAC) affiliate that had hired her, needed to build a women’s restroom in its Karachi office. By the time Khan left last year to become chief financial officer at Engro Fertilizer, KASB had so many women on staff that “we had to get in line” to use the restroom, she says.
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More of them than ever are finding employment, doing everything from pumping gasoline and serving burgers at McDonald’s (MCD) to running major corporations. About 22 percent of Pakistani females over the age of 10 now work, up from 14 percent a decade ago, government statistics show. Women now hold 78 of the 342 seats in the National Assembly, and in July, Hina Rabbani Khar, 34, became Pakistan’s first female Foreign Minister. “The cultural norms regarding women in the workplace have changed,” says Maheen Rahman, 34, chief executive officer at IGI Funds, which manages some $400 million in assets. Rahman says she plans to keep recruiting more women for her company.

Much of the progress has come because women stay in school longer. More than 42 percent of Pakistan’s 2.6 million high school students last year were girls, up from 30 percent 18 years ago. Women made up about 22 percent of the 68,000 students in Pakistani universities in 1993; today, 47 percent of Pakistan’s 1.1 million university students are women, according to the Higher Education Commission. Half of all MBA graduates hired by Habib Bank, Pakistan’s largest lender, are now women. “Parents are realizing how much better a lifestyle a family can have if girls work,” says Sima Kamil, 54, who oversees 1,400 branches as head of retail banking at Habib. “Every branch I visit has one or two girls from conservative backgrounds,” she says.

There’s still a long way to go. The employment rate for men is triple that for women, and Pakistan’s female literacy rate is just 45 percent, vs. 70 percent for men. In agriculture, where women account for three-fourths of all workers, female laborers such as cotton and chili pickers earn less than 50¢ a day. In the informal manufacturing sector—companies that make, say, blouses, bedsheets, or soccer balls—women make up 57 percent of the workforce, but they spend more hours on the job and receive lower pay than their male counterparts, according to the Pakistan Institute of Labour and Economic Research. In 2009, the agency says, women in light manufacturing earned an average of 2,912 rupees ($34) monthly, about 40 percent of the average earnings for men.
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Some companies believe hiring women gives them a competitive advantage. Habib Bank says adding female tellers has helped improve customer service at the formerly state-owned lender because the men on staff don’t want to appear rude in front of women. And makers of household products say female staffers help them better understand the needs of their customers. “The buyers for almost all our product ranges are women,” says Fariyha Subhani, 46, CEO of Unilever Pakistan Foods, where 106 of the 872 employees are women. “Having women selling those products makes sense because they themselves are the consumers,” she says.

To attract more women, Unilever last year offered some employees the option to work from home, and the company has run an on-site day-care center since 2003. Engro, which has 100 women in management positions, last year introduced flexible working hours, a day-care center, and a support group where female employees can discuss challenges they encounter. “Today there is more of a focus at companies on diversity,” says Engro Fertilizer CFO Khan, 42. The next step, she says, is ensuring that “more women can reach senior management levels.”

http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/now-on-the-job-in-pakistan-women-09082011.html

Mayraj said...

"Literacy, as defined in Census operations, is the ability to read and write with understanding in any language. A person who can merely read but cannot write is not classified as literate. Any formal education or minimum educational standard is not necessary to be considered literate. Adopting these definitions, the literacy level of the country as a whole was only 29.45 per cent with male literacy at 39.45 per cent and female literacy at 18.69 per cent. "

http://lawmin.nic.in/ncrwc/finalreport/v2b1-5.htm

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a UN news report on Balochi girls desperate for education in Pakistan:

QUETTA, 29 November 2011 (IRIN) - Gehava Bibi, 9, is very excited. She is visiting the city of Quetta, capital of the southwestern province of Balochistan, with her father to buy some basic school supplies. She has never held a pencil or piece of chalk. “This seems like magic,” she told IRIN as she awkwardly drew a few squiggly lines across a piece of paper offered to her by the shop-owner.

Bibi has never been to school; there is no educational facility in her village in the Bolan district, some 154km southeast of Quetta, and like 90 percent of women in rural Balochistan, according to official figures, she is illiterate.

However, recently, an elderly villager, who had spent many years in the southern port city of Karachi, has returned to Bolan and offered to provide the girls in the village with some basic education.

Fazila Aliani, a social activist, educationist and former member of the Balochistan provincial assembly, recently told the media the reason for the lack of educational facilities was the “insurgency” in the province, “while a lack of necessary funds, absence of a well-defined education policy, lack of girls’ schools, acute shortage of teaching staff, and poverty are other factors which contribute to the backwardness”.

She said that except for Quetta, educational institutions were “non-existent in Baloch-dominated areas of the province”. Aliani also said foreign donors seeking to set up schools in Balochistan struggled to do so because of the lack of security and government resistance.
-----------------
The attacks on teachers aggravate what is an already grim literacy situation for girls. “I used to teach at a private school in the town of Khuzdar in Balochistan. But it is now just too dangerous to live in the province as a Punjabi settler, and my family and I have now moved back to Gujrat in the Punjab province even though we had lived in Balochistan since I was a small child,” said Amina Bano, 28. Other teachers too have moved away.

Balochistan’s literacy figures for women are the lowest in the country, standing at 14.1 percent, compared with more than 35 percent each in Sindh and the Punjab and 18.8 percent in Khyber Pakhtoonkh’wa.

The Chief Minister of Balochistan, Nawab Aslam Khan Raisani, has repeatedly condemned the targeting of teachers, and said those involved were “depriving future generations” of education.

“The lack of development in the province is a reason for the lack of education for girls. It is also fuelling the frustration and anger which has created the nationalist insurgency,” Fareed Ahmed, provincial coordinator in Balochistan for the autonomous Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, told IRIN.

But while nationalist unrest and lack of development have plagued Balochistan for years, this offers no comfort to girls – and their parents – desperate for an education.

“On our television screens, we see girls sitting in classrooms and learning. Their future will be a better one, and unlike me, since I am also uneducated, they can teach their children in the future. Why can’t it be the same for our daughters?” asked Abdullah Jan, 40, father of Gehava Bibi and two other girls, who wants them all to be educated.

“We are trying to do what we can, but we need help,” he said.


http://www.irinnews.org/report.aspx?reportid=94331

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Dawn report on the airing of the first episode of Sim Sim Humara in Pakistan:

The first episode of the Pakistan Children Television’s programme “Sim Sim Hamara”, an educational and capacity-building TV series for children, will be aired on Dec 10 at national TV.

The TV series will be a high-quality early education resource for a large number of children who lack access to formal education opportunities.

“Sim Sim Hamara” is the Pakistani adaptation of the engaging programme “Sesame Street”, created by Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop in collaboration with Sesame Workshop, New York, and funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

The theatre group will create a total of 130 episodes of the “Sim Sim Hamra” broadcast on PTV Home.

Seventy-eight of these episodes will be produced in Urdu and 52 in national languages. The first episode will be aired at 5:30pm on Dec 10 and the repeat telecast will be at 9:30am next day. The moving spirit behind the project, Faizan Pirzada told Dawn that “along with language and numeracy skills, this new educational show will promote basic life skills, healthy habits, mutual respect and love for learning. The show’s locally-developed puppet stars include Rani, a six-year old school girl with a keen interest in natural sciences and a love of reading, Munna, a five-year old boy with big dreams and a flair for mathematics and numbers, Baily, a fluffy, hardworking donkey who aspires to be a pop star, Baji, a colourful, spirited woman with a passion for food, family, fun and tradition, and Haseen-o-Jameel, a crocodile who has a wonderful way with words, rhymes and songs.”

Throwing light on the background of the project, one of the heads of the PC TV, Faizan Pirzada said Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop, in collaboration with Sesame Workshop, held a national content seminar and four provincial workshops to gather educational advisers from various fields to provide direction for the educational framework for the Pakistan Children’s Television project.

He said the participants included representatives from both regional and federal government entities, academicians, performing artists, civil society members working with children, representatives from Sesame Workshop, USAID and the federal education secretary.

He said there’s a need to impress upon children and families the fact that learning happens in both formal and non-formal environments. PC television is using authentic examples from the real world, such as observing a family member count change at the grocery store, weighing produce on scales at the vegetable market, reading prayers from the Holy Quran and other holy texts, and measuring ingredients for ‘roti’ as a basis for storylines and materials that promote a lifelong love of learning.


http://www.dawn.com/2011/12/02/educational-tv-serial-for-children-from-dec-10.html

Riaz Haq said...

57% adolescent boys, 53% girls think wife beating is justified, reports Times of India:

NEW DELHI: It's a shocking revelation in this day and age. Not just Indian men, but even adolescents - in the 15-19 age group - feel that wife beating is justified.

Unicef's " Global Report Card on Adolescents 2012", says that 57% of adolescent boys in India think a husband is justified in hitting or beating his wife.

Over half of the Indian adolescent girls, or around 53% think that a husband is justified in beating his wife. In comparison, 41% women in Bangladesh and 54% in Sri Lanka harbour a similar feeling . In Nepal, however, the prevalence of both men and women justifying domestic violence is inordinately high at 88% and 80%, respectively.

According to the report, societal attitudes that convey acceptance or justification of domestic violence are making girls and women more vulnerable to abuse. It says, "Available data for developing countries show that nearly 50% of girls and women aged 15-49 believe that wifebeating is justified... girls aged between 15 and 19 years hold the same views as women in the 45-49 age group."

The report explains that because of reporting bias, this may be an under-estimation of the actual size of the problem in several countries. Many factors contribute to the incidence of domestic violence . For instance, in many places, child marriage, gender-based power relations, women's low economic status and traditional practices or social norms perpetuate it.

Mission director for India's National Rural Health Mission Anuradha Gupta said spousal violence takes place both in developed and developing countries "though the degree would vary" . She said, "When girls are brought up with the message that a woman's status in a family is inferior, she starts to accept whatever behaviour is meted out by her husband or in-laws ." She added, "When a boy grows up seeing his father assault his mother, he starts to accept such a behavior and repeats it."

Ranjana Kumari, director of Centre for Social Research, said, "Most women think this is their fate. Education or economic prosperity alone can't improve the situation."

Times View

These findings on youth attitudes towards marital violence should not just be seen as shocking. They should also teach us the limitations of laws on domestic violence. Such laws may be important to help minimize violence against women. But they are clearly not enough, especially when the victim herself does not perceive any wrong in being beaten up. A strong legal framework to deal with domestic attacks must be backed up, therefore, by a sustained and intensive campaign to raise awareness on the issue among men and women. Steps to raise the levels of female education would play an important role.


http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/57-of-boys-53-of-girls-think-wife-beating-is-justified/articleshow/12862006.cms

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Newstribe story on USAID program to increase literacy in Pakistan:

ISLAMABAD: The United States announces the launch of the Pakistan Reading Project to boost the reading skills of 3.2 million Pakistani children.

This project will fund improvements in reading instruction and reading assessment in grades one through five throughout the Pakistani public school system. The International Rescue Committee (IRC), which is partnering with regional governments and Pakistani civil society organizations, will implement this $160 million project in an estimated 38,000 public schools over the next five years.

The launch of this program on International Literacy Day, observed annually on September 8, demonstrates the firm commitment of the United States and its Pakistani partners to improving critical reading and writing skills.

“The Pakistan Reading Project provides Pakistani children an opportunity to develop skills which are essential for success in higher education and in the workplace. Children who do not learn to read in the first few grades of school will struggle to keep up with classroom assignments in later grades,” Gregory Gottlieb, Mission Director of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) said after the agreement was signed between USAID and IRC. “IRC is honored to work on such an important project which will help improve the quality of education for millions of Pakistani children,” IRC Chief of Party, John Shumaker, said.

This initiative is just one part of a comprehensive U.S. education assistance program which includes building or rehabilitating nearly 800 schools; launching new degree programs in education at 90 colleges and universities; providing scholarships for 12,000 students to study in Pakistan; and operating the largest Fulbright academic exchange program in the world.


http://www.thenewstribe.com/2013/09/06/international-literacy-day-united-states-announces-160-million-pakistan-reading-project/