Gender mainstreaming: supporting rural women in Pakistan
As female participation in decision-making in rural Pakistan remains low, ACTED seeks to make this situation evolve by encouraging equal participation of both genders in decision-making and project implementation.
In rural Pakistan, gender inequality is witnessed in several domains, notably in access to education, decision-making and participation. According to the Ministry of Education, as of 2010, the statistics for rural areas showed discrepancies between access to education for girls and boys at primary level. 63% of boys are enrolled at primary level, while only 54% of girls are enrolled. Moreover, attendance rates are often inferior to the enrolment rates, which has a negative effect on the education of young girls. Only 46% of girls aged 10 years and older are literate, compared to 69% of boys of the same age. This absence of girls from the academic sphere means that women are once again, absent from the professional realm, as we note that only 15.6% of women are actively engaged in the workforce compared to 49.3% of men. Women that are engaged in a professional activity are either from the upper classes, or from the very poor communities.
According to UN WOMEN, gender mainstreaming is “a globally accepted strategy for promoting gender equality. Mainstreaming is not an end in itself but a strategy, […] a means to achieve the goal of gender equality.” Gender mainstreaming should, as such, not be viewed as a singular activity but as a cross-cutting theme considered at all stages of development, implementation and follow up.
Improvements in nutrition and health
ACTED is working with local communities, mainstreaming gender in their projects to ensure the participation of women. This includes the employment of women in their teams, separate community committees and specialised activities (such as home-based cash-for-work). One example of ACTED’s approach to gender mainstreaming can be found in the permaculture inspired project in North Sindh funded by the UK Department for International Development. As part of the project’s activities, women from the flood-affected communities were provided with kitchen-gardening kits and training. This enabled them to produce food and thus improve the health of their family by providing a nutritious diet. One woman became an inspiration for her village due to the leadership skills she showed during the project. She encouraged the women from the community to pool their seeds, and managed to successfully orchestrate the sowing and harvesting of a range of vegetables. When asked about her success, she responded that “the plants survived because I took care of them”. Having saved some of the seeds for the next harvest, ACTED hopes that this community will continue to harvest vegetables and improve their families’ health, led by women like this.
“ACTED considers all security implications of engaging women in these activities and follows the ‘do-no-harm’ approach.”
With such success as proof of the positive outcomes of engaging women in community activities, ACTED will continue to support women and men wherever possible in their activities. Through long term and sustainable empowerment, ACTED hopes to support women in Pakistan and encourage them to take an active role in the recovery and development of their country.
Latest news Pakistan
- Improving food security through kitchen gardens in Sindh
- Pakistan emergency: the story of Seeda Khan, displaced in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
- Promoting hygiene at school to hold back waterborne diseases
- Gender mainstreaming: supporting rural women in Pakistan
- A complex emergency on the frontier
- Re-building Pakistan's Southern bread basket
- Alliance2015: In action for Pakistan