The blatant underinvestment in women’s education in places like rural Pakistan has crippling effects on society. Like most societies, education and health are strongly related in rural Pakistan, a place where women’s literacy rates are among the lowest in the world. Places like rural Pakistan value fertility leaving women and men’s place in society very clear: men work, take place in politics and obtain more than basic education while many women are expected to produce and care for children. Figures from the early 1990s show that 30.2 thousand girls attended primary school compared to 85.4 boys that same year (907). These numbers get proportionately smaller and smaller by middle school and high school age approaches as boys become working men and girls become mothers.
Women’s health which is usually correlated with their level of education determines the health of the children who are the future of society. Because women are not able to move physically as freely in society as men are, their health is bound to their local practices and beliefs. With lack of local medical facilities in Islamabad, Rajpur (rural village in Pakistan), many women live by spiritual medical practices especially when performing child-birth which often involves dangerous practices. One such practice involves cutting off the babies umbilical cord with a knife rubbed in sand and ash which can lead to tetanus and infections (909). Instances like the aforementioned are common in child-birthing in rural Pakistan due to lack of proper education and training. The medical experts usually do not have official education passed basics and what has been handed down through the generations and while cultural practices and beliefs has to be incorporated into every aspect of a society, lack of education is to blame for the risky births that are performed.
The rural village in Pakistan is just one instance of education being connected to health and opportunity. Across the world, women without education are left behind to tend to the child-rearing and home-making while their male counterparts are able to make decisions for their homes, lives and societies. While this cannot be fully blamed on primary education, it is much harder for women to get through to higher education in such societies. After learning some of the basics in literacy and arithmetic, women are expected to fully pursue and education of domestic practicalities. The little bit of education they have binds them to their current lives as mothers and wives, which may be all these women want for themselves. My point is that young girls are allowed to be equals with boys for only a few moments in their lives before they are expected to completely stop and this not only affects them, but it affects their future children as well which is the society. Primary education is the building block for men and women and because women hold the future of society in their wombs, it is important that they have access to this education without interruption.
Link to Tassawar S. Ibraz, Anjum Fatima and Naheed Aziz’s article in which this post was based on:
“Uneducated and Unhealthy: The Plight of Women in Pakistan”