Impact of Islamization on pakistans economy Essay Example
Impact of Islamization on pakistans economy Essay Example

Impact of Islamization on pakistans economy Essay Example

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  • Pages: 10 (2639 words)
  • Published: September 26, 2017
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Pakistan's economic system has failed to achieve the desired growth rates necessary for poverty alleviation, resulting in approximately 40% of the population residing below the poverty line. This percentage is higher than it was a decade ago. Several factors contribute to Pakistan's disappointing economic performance, including excessive defense spending that impedes human capital development, weak governance, corruption, instability, sectarian violence, and the ongoing Kashmir conflict. Furthermore, gender disparities persist within Pakistan and have received insufficient attention despite worsening conditions in some instances. The link between women's societal status and a country's economic growth is widely acknowledged, particularly concerning their levels of literacy. Recognizing this connection emphasizes how women's low socioeconomic standing can significantly hinder Pakistan's progress. Women's roles in Pakistani society have been influenced by Islamization policies aiming to establish an Islamic state encompassi


ng economic, political, and social aspects. Gender roles in developing economies rely heavily on deeply rooted cultural norms and traditions evident through notable regional gender differences throughout Pakistan.The impact of Islamization on women remains a contentious issue in Pakistan, with political conflicts arising. Many Islamists argue that their policies benefit women and promote equality. The Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), an Islamist alliance, emphasizes the involvement of women in their party and their dedication to social welfare and protecting women's rights as guaranteed by Islam. However, critics contend that Islamization limits opportunities for women in the public sphere, leading to negative consequences. Journalist Jugnu Mohsin describes Islamization as a hindrance to societal growth and a detriment to secular culture, particularly affecting women. Gender roles in today's Pakistan are influenced by both culture, tradition, and Islam. In general, Islamization reinforces conservative ideas about women's roles

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in society, impeding efforts to increase their participation in the public sphere and having economic implications. This paper specifically examines how Islamization affects women and its potential economic effects. Despite attempts to achieve gender equality, Pakistan has made little progress on important indicators such as female literacy rates and workforce participation; the country's sex ratio reflects higher female infant mortality rates and bias towards boys, indicating gender discrimination.The gender disparity in areas such as education and literacy has a significant impact on economic growth, making it a cause for concern. The lack of investment in education in Pakistan, particularly for girls, is evident. The country's spending on education remains at around 1% of the GDP, resulting in insufficient resources allocated to girls' education. This has led to an overall literacy rate of only 44%, with adult female literacy even lower at less than 30%. Notably, the gap between male and female literacy rates has been widening over time. In 1975, there was a 25-point difference (11% for women compared to 36% for men), which increased to 29 points by 2001 (29% for women versus 58% for men). Despite multiple government initiatives aimed at reducing gender disparities in education, significant progress has not been achieved. Instead, the number of illiterate individuals in Pakistan has doubled since 1951, with illiterate women tripling due to population growth. It is now widely recognized that high birth rates are closely linked to low levels of female literacy. Therefore, prioritizing girls' education on a national level becomes crucial. While poverty reduction requires various approaches, recent evidence suggests that investing in girls' education is the most effective way to address different development

goals.Educated women have a range of positive impacts on their families and communities. They have fewer children, provide better healthcare and nutrition for their families, experience lower child mortality rates, earn higher incomes, and are more likely to educate their own children. These benefits extend to the wider society and country as a whole.

Research has shown that educating girls in Pakistan can significantly increase agricultural productivity, which plays a significant role in the country's GDP. In fact, studies suggest that investing in girls' education yields higher returns compared to boys' education. The larger the gender gap in primary education, the greater the return on investment in girls' literacy.

It is important to acknowledge that Islamization alone cannot be solely blamed for Pakistan's low female literacy rates. Many Islamists prioritize and advocate for female education. However, cultural norms reinforced by traditional gender roles hinder female mobility and access to public spaces. This makes it challenging to enroll and retain girls in school while also reducing the economic benefits derived from their education.

Another contributing factor is the low level of female workforce participation in Pakistan. Increasing women's employment not only boosts a country's output but also significantly contributes to household income.

Recent studies indicate that resource control by either men or women has different impacts on family consumption patterns.The allocation of resources differs when women are in control compared to when men are in control. Women prioritize family welfare, such as nutrition, education, and health, while men tend to allocate resources towards alcohol and tobacco. When women have control over resources, it has a positive impact on child survival, nutrition, and school registrations more than when men are in

control. Essentially, women invest more in their children's human capital than men do. This has significant implications for long-term development.

Currently, only 15 percent of women in Pakistan participate in the formal labor force. Although this represents a three-fold increase over the past 20 years, female labor force participation is still low both absolutely and compared to similar per capita GDP countries like Bangladesh where it is 57 percent. Increasing women's presence in the workforce presents challenges and opportunities for Pakistan.

Pakistan faces challenges regarding female literacy which hampers workforce participation. However, as education levels rise there must also be an increase in labor force engagement for Pakistan to fully benefit from investing in girls' education. Despite the country's high unemployment rates, creating employment opportunities for women is a challenging task with some areas experiencing unemployment rates as high as 40 percent. Policymakers are concerned about potential rises in unemployment levels if more women enter the workforceHowever, the concerns regarding female labor force participation in Pakistan are unfounded according to microeconomic data. In fact, an economic system that includes more women tends to have lower unemployment rates. Moreover, there is a positive correlation between foreign direct investment in export-oriented sectors like textiles and increased female labor force participation. Unfortunately, Pakistan has missed out on this foreign investment in industries where many women work, impeding its progress. These jobs provide a way for female workers and their families to move into the middle class. To encourage higher female labor force participation rates in Pakistan, various structural barriers and social constraints need to be addressed. Many of these barriers are reinforced by Islamization which emphasizes women's role as household

caretakers and leads to gender segregation and disparities. This discourages formal employment opportunities for women in the country. Multinational corporations also express concern about religious extremism and mistreatment of women impacting Pakistan's attractiveness for foreign direct investment. However, the government is taking steps to support microfinance initiatives that benefit the poor and women who want to start businesses. For instance, with a $150 million loan from the ADB, Kushali Bank was established in 2000 and provided a $15 million loan to 65,000 clients in 2002 - one third of whom were adult females. Other organizations like Kashf Foundation focus exclusively on adult women and aim to reach 100,000 clients by the end of 2004.The impact of Islamization on the financial sector, specifically microfinance, has not been hindered so far. However, if interest rates were eliminated in banking, it could have a significant effect. Economists are currently studying gender disparities in Pakistan and how they affect economic growth. The contribution of Islamization policies to these disparities is unclear, but they do reinforce traditional culture which plays a major role in determining gender roles. Supporters argue that these policies protect women's dignity and honor, with Islamic parties distancing themselves from Taliban-style programs and promoting a "women-friendly" approach. On the other hand, some individuals believe that maintaining traditional roles for adult females benefits society by promoting family values. However, dissenting opinions criticize these policies as reactionary and anti-female due to the influence of Shari'a on the legal environment. There is criticism regarding gender segregation and negative attitudes towards family planning by Islamists. The tension between Shari'a and established human rights standards, particularly women's rights, is well-documented in literature.

This literature focuses on how the reintroduction of Shari'a as public law in Muslim countries undermines progress made for women under secular law. Pakistan's constitution guarantees equal rights for women and grants the government authority to protect and promote those rights through affirmative action.
The establishment of the Federal Shari'a Court (FSC) in 1980 by General Zia ul-Haq has undermined these rights over time. Islamic legal systems have resulted in gender bias within Shari'a, leading to unequal inheritance rights, regulations on termination of marriage, minimum age restrictions for marriage, and custody issues concerning children. Furthermore, women face significant disparities in financial security after divorce due to permitted polygamy. Discrimination is also evident in Pakistan's Hudood Ordinances, particularly regarding Zina (sex). The Zina Ordinance blurs the boundaries between rape and adultery, allowing a woman to be convicted of adultery if she cannot prove rape occurred. To strengthen the Federal Shari'a Court, the MMA is working on constitutional amendments and increasing the number of ulemas involved. In the Northwest Frontier Province, the MMA controls the provincial government and supports implementing recommendations from the Council for Islamic Ideology (CII). The establishment of a 14-member Nifaz-e-Shariat Council (NSC) aims to assist with implementing Islamic rules and reforms suggested by the CII. On June 2, 2003, a bill was passed by the NWFP government enforcing Shari'a law in the province. Controversial discussions include advocating for a Taliban-esque Ministry for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice with a special "Hasba force" or vice squad [17].Removing or altering religious laws that have already been established poses difficulties. Women's groups actively oppose the Islamization of society and specifically advocate for the repeal of

gender discriminatory Hudood Ordinances. During her national campaign in 1988, Benazir Bhutto placed significant emphasis on highlighting General Zia ul-Haq's biased policies towards women under his Islamization agenda. Subsequently, in August 2003, the National Commission on Status of Women publicly demanded the revocation of Hudood laws due to their disproportionate impact on impoverished and illiterate rural women. According to a report, uncertainties surrounding the Zina Ordinance accounted for up to 88% of women imprisoned in Pakistan. However, there are doubts regarding the validity of these claims. The MMA rejected the NCSW's findings concerning the Hudood laws, while the Musharraf government distanced itself from the report and received support from the MMA for constitutional amendments that granted political power to the military. Accurately assessing the effects of Islamic legal reforms in Pakistan, which exhibit bias against women, is challenging. Human rights activists focus on specific instances of discrimination even if they occur infrequently. Nonetheless, disregarding these instances as inconsequential can be misleading overall. The implementation of Islamic legal reforms and Hudood ordinances has further entrenched male dominance over women by restricting their ability to effectively negotiate and manage resources.The introduction of gender segregation raises concerns among modernists, secularists, and women's groups who fear it may contribute to the spread of Islamization. Some may consider recent actions by Islamists towards women, such as censoring female mannequins and faces in advertisements, insignificant. However, these actions actually reinforce traditional gender roles for women, particularly in rural areas where most of the population resides. Activist Bushra Gohar points out that this conservative societal setup in NWFP already hinders women's progress and the MMA aims to further regress their advancements. Moderates

are concerned that these measures will lead to greater segregation in public spaces and workplaces.
It is important to note that these actions are not limited to just the MMA stronghold in NWFP which represents only 13% of Pakistan's population. In addition, groups associated with Jamaat-i-Islami have defaced billboards featuring women in the Punjab. Likewise, the local Jamaat-run council in Karachi has banned depictions of women in advertisements as "obscene and vulgar" [23].
The MMA claims its commitment to achieving full literacy within society within a decade; however, it also promises to ban co-education and establish separate educational institutions for women [24].The conflicting policies of segregation in Pakistan may hinder female education by adding additional costs. The disparity between male and female literacy rates is already recognized, with limited opportunities for higher education for women. In 1997, out of 172 professional colleges, only 10 were designated for women. The text discusses how reserved quotas limit access to Pakistani women. Female enrollment in professional colleges and universities was only 27% in the years 2000-2001.

The MMA (Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal) has introduced regulations that restrict healthcare access for women, including gender-specific facilities and treatment by female doctors. This move towards complete segregation between genders could extend beyond schools and healthcare facilities to public spaces and workplaces. However, this could have a negative impact on women's health in rural areas where there is already a shortage of trained female healthcare professionals.

Pakistan currently faces high maternal mortality rates, with one in every 38 women dying from pregnancy-related causes. Trained professionals attend only 20% of deliveries. Despite limited resources, Pakistan is striving to improve primary healthcare and basic facilities in rural areas to address

these issues.If Islamization persists, it may undermine efforts to empower women by limiting their access to resources. The Population Council conducted a recent study which revealed that conservative norms severely restrict healthcare access for women in rural Pakistan. As per the study, 96% of females aged 15-24 require permission to visit nearby health facilities due to concerns about family reputation and adherence to tradition. The resistance from Islamists towards household planning in Pakistan is impeding the country's economic development. Providing essential household planning services for women is vital considering that Pakistan currently has the world's fastest-growing population. It is projected that the population will increase from 150 million to 350 million by 2050, making it the fourth most populous country worldwide. Slowing down population growth is crucial for improving per capita GDP; however, the Council for Islamic Ideology (CII) opposes household planning on grounds of conflicting with Islamic principles and argues that a growing population does not burden the country. This opposition contradicts the government's development agenda and poses challenges for NGOs operating in Baluchistan and NWFP who are perceived as having Western-influenced objectives and must undergo strict screening and registration procedures. NGOs play a critical role in addressing women's health issues since the government has largely neglected its responsibilities in this domain.If the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) adheres to CII recommendations and adopts an antagonistic stance towards household planning services, it will inevitably restrict NGO activities. The World Bank and Asian Development Bank (ADB) are both involved in plans to improve the status of women in the NWFP region. They oversee the MMA's approach, with ADB's state manager, Marshuk Ali Shah, emphasizing their commitment to

empowering women and expressing concern about the potential impact of a strict stance by MMA on their relationship.

Throughout Pakistan's history, governments have used Islamization for political purposes, but assessing its societal impact on women is difficult. This paper aims to demonstrate that when Islamization reinforces conservative culture in Pakistan, there are economic consequences. To promote economic growth and development, it is important to create a more gender-neutral legal environment and address disparities in healthcare and education. Additionally, barriers hindering female workforce participation should be removed.

Closing gender gaps could potentially contribute up to 1% annual growth in per capita GNP; however, measuring the economic impact is challenging. Pakistan faces the challenge of reducing poverty while dealing with rapid population growth. In this context, it is crucial for Pakistan to evaluate whether maintaining conservative views on women associated with Islamization is sustainable.

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