Whose responsibility is it to tackle poverty and inequality? The case of women in Pakistan.

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This is a short essay that, through the case study of women in Pakistan, looks at the issue of whose responsibility it is to reduce poverty and inequality amongst different groups. Whilst it is recognised that there is no absolute 'correct'
  Whose responsibility is it to tackle poverty and inequality? ÒNo nation can rise to the height of glory, unless your women are side by side with you; we are victims of evil customs. It is a crime against humanity that our women are shut up within the four walls of their houses as prisoners. There is no sanction anywhere for the deplorable condition in which our women have to live.Ó  - Muhammad Ali Jinnah, !"#   $%&'&'  (Father of the Nation), Founder of Pakistan (in Mumtaz & Shaheed, 1987) Before I begin, I must state a qualiÞcation: this essay will not provide a deÞnitive answer to this question. Such an attempt is futile, as development studies is endlessly broad, frustratingly complicated and highly contested; ultimately, any solution to any development issue is dependent on the context of that issue: there are no panaceas. So instead, I will look at a speciÞc subtopic within the poverty-inequality nexus in a speciÞc place - gender inequality in Pakistan - and use development thinking to come to an essay answer speciÞc to this area. Hopefully, by doing this I will be able to display a framework for thinking about this question that can then be applied in various different contexts.The way poverty and inequality are deÞned and measured shapes the way in which they are tackled (Lawson et al.,  2010) and therefore whose ÔresponsibilityÕ they fall upon. At a very, very basic level, poverty is where an individual has a deÞciency in something - for example money, nutrition, power, healthcare or education - that exceeds what is deemed as Ômorally acceptableÕ and is usually measured by some form of baseline, such as the World BankÕs (2016a) use of $3.10 a day (Lister, 2004); inequality is where, among a particular group of people, there is an unequal share of something between the group members and is quantiÞed using some form of ratio Sakib Moghal  (Atkinson, 1970) - for example, income inequality, which is measured on a national scale using the Gini coefÞcient (World Bank, 2016b).Building upon these rather vague and broad deÞnitions has proved difÞcult for the academic community: what exactly poverty and inequality mean, what metrics they encompass and how they are measured are still matters of debate today (Townsend, 1971; Jackson, 1972; Townsend, 1979; Blackorby & Donaldson, 1980; Hagenaars, 1986; Hagenaars & de Vos, 1988; Temkins, 1993; Foster, 1998; Wagle, 2002; Lister, 2004; Misturelli & Heffernan, 2005; Creedy & Guyonne, 2006; Vidyasagar, 2006; Boonyabancha, 2015). The nuances of this discussion are not the business of this essay, but from this expansive literature a common message emerges: none of the large number of (sometimes conßicting) deÞnitions and measurements of poverty and inequality are necessarily wrong - they are all useful and can provide different insights about different environments. Gender inequality is one such measure. In much of the world throughout history, women have received less than men - education, renumeration, power, access to services and basic human rights are assumed by men and granted to women later, often after much protest (Blumhagen & Johnson, 1987). This deeply entrenched subordination of women in society has existed for perhaps thousands of years (Weedon, 1999; Ardener, 1993), and has been fuelled by the various socially-constructed meanings that are attached to the basic biological differences between a male and female - from physical build to sexual organs (Wollstonecraft, 1792). Indeed, the very way in which different societies deÞne women - submissive, mute, passive, dependent, ÕfeminineÕ, sensual (Coward, 1983; Ardener, 1993; Heyes, 2000) - conÞne them to roles that are fundamentally secondary to that of men, thus propagating and maintaining both structured and unstructured gender inequality (Tinker, 1990). The impacts of this inequality are overwhelmingly negative: because it is essentially a neglect of half the worldÕs population, it has been empirically linked to higher infant mortality rates, lower household incomes, lower national GDP Þgures, and even poorer business performance (UN, 1948; Anand & Sen, 1995; UNICEF, 2004; Oxfam, 2014; World Economic Forum, 2014; Kimmel, 2015; Global Partnership for Sakib Moghal  Education, 2016); In the development Þeld, it has become now widely accepted that gender quality is a necessary precursor for any society to move from ÔdevelopingÕ to ÔdevelopedÕ (Chaudhry, 2007; Desai & Potter, 2014). With this in mind, a study of how to improve gender inequality can feed into wider debates around how to promote and sustain multidimensional development in different communities across the world.According to the World Economic Forum (2015), Pakistan is statistically the second-worst country in the world (of those surveyed) for gender inequality, performing poorly on all metrics: political empowerment, health and survival, educational attainment, and (in particular) economic participation and opportunity (World Economic Forum, 2015). The World Bank (2014) corroborates this, showing that women in Pakistan are less likely to be employed, educated or in any position of political power - especially if the women are from low-income and rural backgrounds. This reasons for this poor performance are varied: political corruption (Jain, 2002), the negative interventions of international institutions and foreign governments (International Monetary Fund, 2003; Shah, 2015), economic stagnation (Roberts & Sattar, 2015), the difÞculties of grassroots activism (Brohi, 2014; Yousafzai, 2014), religious extremism (Abbas, 2005; Boone, 2016) and cultural ÔbackwardnessÕ - for want of a better word (Tilioune & Estes, 2016). An analysis of gender inequality in Pakistan, because it touches on all these issues, can therefore be seen as a microcosmic study of the wide variety of obstacles that the wider struggle for gender equality faces.In Pakistan, many have attempted to tackle gender inequality. But to whom the responsibility of this problem falls is a different question altogether; indeed, the very concept of responsibility is deeply complex and would require an essay in itself to deconstruct (McKeon, 1957; Massey, 2004; Williams, 2004). Rather than discuss this complexity, instead I will interpret the term in a manner I feel is most appropriate in the context of this essay: the responsibility of gender inequality in Pakistan falls on those who should   take responsibility, who are those who produce the best successes in tackling the most aspects (e.g. education, healthcare, marriage, employment, and human rights) of the issue. Sakib Moghal  International (inter)governmental organisations have been working on gender inequality for some time. The second wave of feminism in the 1960s (Cornwall, Harrison & Whitehead, 2007), sparked an increasing recognition of the need to consciously take gender into account in development theory and practice, and these large institutions subsequently began a period of extensive collection of gender data, proliÞc implementation of gender-related development programmes and campaigned for global gender equality (Chant & McIlwane, 2009). Their work has, according to them, been substantial (IDA, 2016; IMF, 2016; UN Women, 2016). However, the tangible impacts these organisations have had in Pakistan has been hard to come by. The World Bank does nothing more than collect gender-related data (World Bank, 2014), the IMF - despite talking a great deal about the beneÞts of gender equality (IMF, 2016) - has no evidence of any gender-related program in the country (IMF, 2013). The UN, by far the most vocal international organisation on womenÕs rights due to its dedicated arm, UN Women (2016), has an almost negligible (and arguably tokenistic) impact: in Pakistan they have trained around 5,000 women in employment skills (around 0.00004% of the female population: UN Women, 2014), donated just under $32,000 to a microcredit bank (0.025¢ per woman: ibid  ), generated 5,000 sign-ups for their ÔHeforSheÕ global gender equality campaign (UN Pakistan, 2015) and sponsored a womenÕs football event (Bjeorge & Salman, 2016).Interestingly, the international organisation with the most recorded beneÞt for Pakistani women is the bilateral organisation USAID: they have trained 9,000 women, rehabilitated 340 girlsÕ schools and provided 900 higher education scholarships (USAID, 2016b): but when one notes the fact that the US Government has donated over $60bn to Pakistan in the past 50 years (Center for Global Development, 2016) - aid that is often tied to American political interests that do not span to gender equality (Anwar & Michaelowa, 2006; USAID, 2016a) - the aforementioned beneÞt that has resulted from these billions seems rather minuscule. This could also be due to the Pakistani governmentÕs - another agent in the gender equality campaign - ineffectiveness at using this aid. The government has a similar ÔsuccessÕ story to international organisations: on paper, it seems positive (Ahmad, Sakib Moghal  2011) - indeed, Article 25 the Constitution of Pakistan expressly states that Òthere shall be no discrimination on the basis of sexÓ (National Assembly of Pakistan, 1973, p15) - but, notwithstanding improvements in education parity (Chaudhry & Rahman, 2009), the government has done rather little to act upon its statement and tackle gender inequality (Chaudhry & Rahman, 2009). This is arguably both because the issue of womenÕs empowerment is not deemed a priority, and because the government is an institution fraught with problems: it is 80% male (World Bank, 2014), is plagued with ineffectiveness and a lack of accountability, (Khan, 2001; Rai, Shah & Ayaz, 2007; Chene, 2008; Human Rights Watch, 2015; Khan, 2016), is imbued with Òboth petty and grand corruptionÓ (Chene, 2008, p3; Franco-Rodriguez et al.,  1998;; Ibrahim, 2009) and even actively suppresses human rights (such as of those in Balochistan: Human Rights Watch, 2015; DW, 2016). Arguably, the failure - or rather, ineptitude - of these international and national top-down institutions is not so much their fault   per se, but rather due to the side-effects that come from having other priorities, limited budgets, and - in the case of the government - being so fundamentally ßawed that it cannot be relied upon.But in truth, their lack of success is not primarily due to internal institutional issues. The biggest maintainer of gender inequality is PakistanÕs culture: a fascinating mix of complicated South Asian heritage, Islamic misinterpretation and dogma perpetuated by the countryÕs lack of education and a strong value placed on societal perceptions that is deeply embedded in many Pakistanis - particularly those from rural and working-class backgrounds (Brydon & Chant, 1989; Haddad & Esposito, 1998; Abbas, 2004; Chaudhry, 2007; Mumtaz & Salway, 2007; Rai, Shah & Ayaz, 2007; Naz et al., 2013; Raphel, 2014; Hassan, 2015; Human Rights Watch, 2015; Purewal & Hashmi, 2015). This patriarchal culture is responsible for the ÔbackwardÕ behaviour that outrages much of the Western world (and educated Pakistanis), such as critiques of womenÕs education activists such as Malala Yousafzai (Thomas & Shukul, 2015), protests against womenÕs rights laws (Khan, 2016) and the all-too-frequent, yet widely practiced, domestic violence against women (Zakar, Zakar & Kraemer, 2013). Ultimately, no amount of Western-inspired tokenistic sentiment and well-meant law can break these customs for the sake of gender equality (Mumtaz & Shaheed, 1987); these cultural constraints can only essentially be challenged from Sakib Moghal
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