Gender Equality: Progress and Challenges in Pakistan


Gender equality remains a fundamental human right and a cornerstone of sustainable development, yet achieving it continues to be a complex and multifaceted challenge worldwide. In Pakistan, the journey towards gender equality has seen both progress and persistent challenges. In this blog, we delve into the evolving landscape of gender equality in Pakistan, exploring achievements, ongoing efforts, and the obstacles that hinder the realization of true equality for all.


Legislative Reforms

Pakistan has made significant strides in enacting legislation to promote gender equality and protect women’s rights. Landmark laws such as the Protection of Women Against Harassment at Workplace Act and the Prevention of Anti-Women Practices Act aim to address gender-based discrimination and violence against women. Additionally, the implementation of quotas for women in local government institutions has led to increased political representation and participation.


Improving access to education, particularly for girls, has been a key focus area in Pakistan’s efforts to promote gender equality. The government has implemented initiatives such as the Benazir Income Support Program, which provides cash transfers to incentivize school enrollment for girls. As a result, the gender gap in education has narrowed, with more girls attending school and pursuing higher education opportunities.

Women’s Economic Empowerment

Efforts to enhance women’s economic participation and empowerment have gained momentum in Pakistan. Microfinance initiatives, vocational training programs, and entrepreneurship support schemes have enabled women to enter the workforce, start their own businesses, and contribute to household income. Moreover, the growing presence of women in sectors traditionally dominated by men, such as banking, medicine, and law, signals a positive shift towards gender inclusivity in the labor market.


Cultural and Societal Norms

Deep-rooted patriarchal attitudes and societal norms continue to perpetuate gender inequality in Pakistan. Discriminatory practices such as early marriage, honor killings, and restrictions on women’s mobility and decision-making autonomy remain prevalent, particularly in rural and conservative areas. Addressing these cultural barriers requires comprehensive strategies that challenge harmful stereotypes and promote gender-sensitive education and awareness.

Violence Against Women

Gender-based violence, including domestic violence, sexual harassment, and honor crimes, remains a pervasive issue in Pakistan. Despite legislative measures, implementation gaps, impunity, and social stigma often hinder survivors’ access to justice and support services. Strengthening law enforcement, enhancing legal protection mechanisms, and fostering a culture of zero tolerance towards violence are essential steps towards combating gender-based violence.

Economic Disparities

Women in Pakistan continue to face economic disparities, including limited access to resources, unequal pay, and occupational segregation. Structural barriers such as lack of property rights, limited employment opportunities, and gender bias in the workplace hinder women’s economic empowerment and financial independence. Promoting women’s access to credit, skills development, and equal employment opportunities is crucial for narrowing the gender gap in economic participation and prosperity.


While Pakistan has made progress in advancing gender equality, significant challenges persist, requiring sustained efforts and collective action from government, civil society, and the private sector. Addressing deeply entrenched cultural norms, combating gender-based violence, and promoting women’s economic empowerment are key priorities in the journey towards achieving true equality for all genders. By fostering an inclusive and equitable society where every individual can thrive regardless of gender, Pakistan can unleash its full potential and create a brighter future for generations to come.

This article is written by Shahmeer Adnan. Shahmeer is a research analyst at the Iqbal Institute of Policy Studies (IIPS).

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