Concern over less share for women in decision-making
By Amin Ahmed
ISLAMABAD: A United Nations report on women says they continue to be underrepresented in national parliaments, on average occupying only 17 per cent of seats.
The report “Women’s World 2010: Trends and Statistics”, released on the World Statistics Day on Wednesday, states the share of women as ministers also averages 17 per cent, indicating their less representation in decision-making.
The highest positions are even more elusive: only seven of 150 elected heads of states in the world are women, and only 11 of 192 heads of governments. At the local level, elected female councilors are underrepresented worldwide and female mayors even more so.
Reviewing the situation in Pakistan, the report said in the largest-ever federal cabinet, there was only one female member, looking after the affairs of population welfare while there is no minister for women development. However, there are three female ministers of state having minimal powers. The National Assembly is headed by a woman, while there are six female chairpersons of National Assembly standing committees, and six parliamentary secretaries.
In the Senate, there are four women from each province in addition to one female senator from the federal area. The Senate has four female members on its standing committees. Its committee on women development has 12 female senators as members.
The report stated that violence against women Â– physical, sexual, psychological and economic — was a universal phenomenon within and outside their homes. Women are abused physically and sexually by intimate partners at different rates throughout the world. “Younger women are more at risk than older women….” The report said customs put ‘considerable pressure’ on women to accept being beaten by their husbands, even for trivial reasons.
According to the report, in today’s world, there are 57 million more men than women. “This surplus of men is concentrated in the youngest age groups and steadily diminishes until it disappears at about age 50, thereafter becoming a surplus of women owing to their longer life expectancy.”
The report said despite progress accomplished in ensuring equal status for women and men throughout the world, still much more needs to be done. “In education, there is progress — albeit slow and uneven,” the report said. It added that women account for two thirds of the world’s 774 million adult illiterates, a proportion unchanged over the past two decades.
Terming the overall progress in primary education in the past decade encouraging, the report said 72 million children — 54 per cent of them girls — were out of school.
It said globally, women’s participation in the labour market remained steady in the two decades from 1990 to 2010, hovering around 52 per cent. The report said in all regions, women spend at least twice as much time as men on unpaid domestic work. “Women who are employed spend an inordinate amount of time on the double burden of paid work and family responsibilities; when unpaid work is taken into account, women’s total work hours are longer than men’s in all regions.”