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Pakistan

Women's Leadership Groups in Pakistan – Some Good News and Inspiration

Duncan Green's picture

I normally try and keep Oxfam trumpet-blowing to a minimum on this blog, but am happy to make an exception for this piece from Jacky Repila (right) on a new report on our Raising Her Voice programme in Pakistan, a country that ranks 134th out of 135 countries on the Global Gender Gap Index (only Yemen is worse).

When Veeru Kohli stood as an independent candidate in Hyderabad’s provincial elections on 11th May, she made history.

Kohli is poor. Making the asset declaration required of candidates, Kohli listed just two beds, five mattresses, cooking pots and a bank account with life savings of 2,800 rupees, wages for labourers in Karachi are around 500 rupees a day.

She’s a member of a minority group – Hindus represent less than 6 per cent of the country’s total population. The vision of tolerance and inclusion of Pakistan’s founding father, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, has sadly been eroded as we can see from the 500 Pakistani Hindus who recently fled to India to escape discrimination.

She’s uneducated and does not boast the political connections or patronage of most politicians. In fact she has ruffled feudal feathers, escaping captivity from her former landlord and fighting in the courts for the release of other bonded labourers.

And then of course, she’s a woman.  Only 3 per cent of all candidates contesting the general seats for the National Assembly were women.

And yet…. in spite of the inevitable establishment backlash seeking to devalue her credentials, on 11th May six thousand people voted for her. Although not enough to win the seat, the fact of Kohli’s standing is in itself a remarkable act.

Malala’s Speech Gives Hope to Girls Worldwide

Mehreen Arshad Sheikh's picture

"Let us pick up our books and our pens. They are our most powerful weapons,” said Malala Yousafzai, the 16-year-old Pakistani girl shot in the head on her way back from school in Pakistan’s Swat Valley last October.

“One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world. Education is the only solution. Education first,” she continued from the podium at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on July 12, her 16th birthday. July 12 — “Malala Day” — will now be marked and celebrated by citizens worldwide, a day where people can advocate for education and girls’ empowerment.

If you missed Malala’s speech at the UN, you can watch the full video below.

A Lesson from Malala: Girls’ Education Pays Off

Sri Mulyani Indrawati's picture



When I heard the news last autumn that 15-year-old Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan had been shot simply for standing up for her right as a girl to get an education, I was horrified.

It also reminded me how lucky I was.

When I was offered a rare scholarship to study abroad, it wasn’t acceptable for me, as a young married Indonesian woman, to live apart from my husband. My mother laid out two options: Either he would join me, which meant giving up his job, or I had to decline the offer.

I know it was her way to advocate for my husband to support me, which he did without hesitation. We both went to the United States to complete our master’s degrees. I combined it with a doctorate in economics, and we had our first child, a daughter, while we both were graduate students.

Is Upgrading Informal Housing a Step in the Right Direction?

Parul Agarwala's picture

Within the next 30 years, urban populations in developing countries will double and UN-Habitat estimates that around 3 billion people will need housing and basic infrastructure. Already, 70% of existing housing in developing countries is built informally without appropriate structural standards. Thus, the challenge lies in reconciling informal settlements with existing and future planned environments.

In light of these challenges, the South Asia urban team at the World Bank, as part of its urbanization webinar series, organized a discussion on “Upgrading Housing in Informal Settlements.” This webinar highlighted the challenges of upgrading housing in informal settlements, and shared lessons from around the globe where targeted policy interventions and grassroots movements have mobilized resources to create success stories. Guest speakers and experts around the world joined the discussion on informal settlements.

Is Urban Planning Necessary?

Chyi-Yun Huang's picture
During the South Asia Region workshop on "Promoting Access to Land and Housing", one underlying thread that ran through the discussions was on effective urban planning. Often, we encounter doubts on the usefulness of urban planning. While urban planning manifests in various forms, perhaps the most questionable one is comprehensive long term planning.

M-government? – Innovations from Punjab

Ana Bellver Vazquez-Dodero's picture

Two recent blogs (Mobile Apps for Health, Jobs and Poverty Data  and Transformational Use of ICTs in Africa) talked about how mobile applications facilitate access to services in the financial, trade, agriculture, and social sectors.
 
Despite proliferation in business applications, most government applications only provide information about public services and agencies. The potential is huge and now there is a level playing field for developed and developing countries.  Take the USA where government applications are still quite limited in scope and quantity (see the 10 best).  Aware of their unleashed potential, President Obama issued a directive on May, 23rd 2012 to every federal agency “to make two government services the American people depend on, available on mobile phones.”  Yes, May 2012.

Getting to Work: Tackling Youth Unemployment in South Asia

Mabruk Kabir's picture

 “Young people ought not to be idle,” quipped Margaret Thatcher, “It is very bad for them.” That was twenty years ago. With over a million youth currently out of work in Britain today – 21% of the population – her words remain unfortunately prophetic. And it’s not just industrial countries that are in a funk. The “arc of unemployment” does not discriminate: it cuts across southern Europe through the Middle East to South Asia. Almost half of the world’s young people live along this arc, and it is a demographic dividend that is quickly becoming a demographic liability.

Consider South Asia: a region home to the largest proportion of unemployed and inactive youth in the developing world, a whopping 31%. Many attribute this to social norms, as many South Asian women do not work for cultural reasons. But with a growing middle class, gender norms are rapidly evolving.

Joining Forces to Overcome Violence Against Women in South Asia

Maria Correia's picture

Violence against women is a pervasive problem worldwide, causing the deaths of more women between the ages of 19 and 44 than wars, cancer, or car accidents. In South Asia, gender violence is widespread and persists in many forms, as the statistics below demonstrate: 
 
  • Every week in Bangladesh, more than ten women suffer from an acid attack
  • In India, 22 women are killed every day in dowry-related murders
  • 
In Sri Lanka, 60 percent of women report having suffered physical abuse
  • 
In Pakistan, more than 450 women and girls die every year in so-called “honor killings”
  • And in Nepal, the practice of enslaving young girls, whereby parents sell their young daughters – typically age 6-7 – to be girl servants is still widely practiced


We cannot allow this to continue.

Urbanization and Affordable Housing

Judy Deng's picture

Many regions and countries face urbanization challenges, South Asia is no exception. Although the region is currently the least urbanized region in the world, its urbanization rate is on par with Africa and East Asia with a projected influx of 315 million into urban areas by 2030. As such, the World Bank flagship program on urbanization strives to link key policymakers and practitioners to promote a more efficient urbanization process in South Asia through the exchange of experiences and ideas. The 3rd workshop in this series gathered over 80 professionals from 7 South Asian countries, the World Bank and the Korea Research Institute for Human Settlements in the beautiful city of Thimphu, Bhutan.

Recovering jobs and building security in Pakistan

Kiran Afzal's picture


 Local businesses can create jobs in Pakistan's conflict areas (Credit: Zerega, Flickr)
 

How can you effectively support areas shaken by years of regional instability? The Western border areas of Pakistan are one such region, where a 2009 insurgency and subsequent military operations in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) led to one of the worst crises in the country's history. More than 2 million people were forced to leave their homes and considerable damage was caused to physical and social infrastructure. The unprecedented floods of 2010 only made the situation worse.


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