Affirmative Action in Pakistan

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Since its inception, Pakistan has been among the countries with very low literacy rates. One central reason for this has been the shortage of educational opportunities. Pakistani society has been male-dominant, where men govern not only private but public spheres as well. Law in every country of the world rejects discrimination in any sphere of life. Discrimination in legal sense is defined as “unequal treatment of persons, for a reason which has nothing to do with legal rights or ability” (Law.com). Rightfully, the state of Pakistan denies any such biases as it is declared in the Constitution in Chapter 1 Part II Fundamental Rights. Article 25 and 27 refer to equality of citizens and affirm that there shall be no discrimination and the state will safeguard rights. However, recently there has been a lot of debate regarding the trend of number of female students exceeding male students in professional colleges due to admissions on the basis of open merit. The case presented demands affirmative action in favor of male students. While the law refutes injustice and prejudice on basis of gender, many in Pakistan have been pushing for reserved quotas for male students and in fact favor a deserving female student’s seat to be taken up by a relatively non-deserving male student.

The major reason for the ongoing debate has been the considerable lack of doctors in Pakistan, especially the insufficiency of practicing female doctors despite their greater number in professional colleges. Almost 60-65% of student body in medical colleges is female. Unfortunately, only 10-15% is practicing doctors (Arif). Reasons given by some female doctors for not practicing have been women’s exploitation for their soft values and compassion, they easily give way to men both at home or work, women lack confidence, lack hard core professional skills, they also tend to lag behind in practical knowledge and support in career planning (Arif). The trend is reversed in engineering universities, where there is a ratio of 10 males to 1 female student. But these students mainly migrate overseas for further education and jobs. The female students hardly find jobs according to their fields in engineering. Most of the educated women are found doing administrative tasks and office jobs. Therefore, the expense done on female students is being repeatedly regarded as a drain of educational resources. Unluckily, there has been a lot of generalization about the reasons to lower number of female professionals and the foremost explanation is marriage after graduation and women’s preference to stay at home after marriage. But the fact that female professionals are not provided with suitable working environment is often overlooked. Also, the quality of internship training is poor and often these women are not encouraged to acquire further studies. In countries such as Pakistan, social and cultural factors need not be disregarded. Given that, it gets impossible for a significant number of female doctors to actively work at night shifts, compete with male businessmen or to take up strenuous tasks of work as engineers and technicians. But there can be measures to accommodate females which should be taken up by the government and concerned institutes.

Although it is claimed that there is no prejudice between genders while recruiting and pay scales of men and women, this is not what is observed. The average monthly payment for females is calculated to be Rs. 6422.34 but for males it is Rs. 10211.21. Of the 013.10% employed women in Pakistan, 65.7% earn up to 5000 rupees per month only. While only 24.1% of employed men earn up to 5000 rupees per month. The rest earn above Rs.5000 (Pakistan Bureau of Statistics). According to a survey conducted by SeemaArif on issues faced by female doctors, 43% of the females who had quit government jobs was due to dissatisfaction with salary, 19% wanted to quit due to huge workload, 13% were not satisfied with attitude of senior management...
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