South Asia is consisting of eight countries namely Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal. Maldives, Bhutan and Sri Lanka. It is a region of diverse cultures and ethnicity. It is inextricably intertwined with different cultures, religions and societies. Furthermore, it is one of the most populated regions of the world. However, women are in a dismal condition in this region. Women are more than 48% of the total population in this region (World Bank). Nevertheless, women empowerment is an elusive dream in this region. In fact, women empowerment is a myth in South Asia. Women are the victim of gender discrimination, gender-based violence, patriarchal values and social norms in this complex society. Despite considerable progress in some areas, a critical gender gap persists. Here is an in-depth analysis by dissertation experts of The Academic Papers UK of the status of women in the region of South Asia:
Factors Impeding Women Empowerment In South Asia:
First and foremost, South Asia is full of patriarchal culture and social norms. Women are being subjugated in all spheres of life. South Asian uses the lens of stereotype to see women. In most areas, men are at the helm of affairs. Most of the women are restricted to domestic chores and they are not allowed to live restriction-free lives. In short, men are controlling and dictating things based on socially constructed ideas. The decision making power lies in the hands of men. Hence, they manipulate things by keeping their interests in mind.
A deep analysis of South Asian countries suggests that there is a high degree of gender-based violence. According to the UN women, more than 37% of women in South Asia have experienced some type of violence at the hands of their partners (WHO, 2013). There is an increasing trend of rapes per year and honour killings in the region of South Asia.
Poor Health Facilities:
Women are often denied the right to health facilities. Women need health information and services related to reproduction and sex. For example, there is a sharp increase in the cases of breast cases in these countries due to the non-availability of health facilities. The recent pandemic COVID-19 is a just glimpse of the dismal state of health facilities for women. According to the UNICEF report, it was estimated that 4.5 million girls will be unable to return to school due to deteriorating access to sexual and reproductive health facilities.
Limited Representation in Power Corridors:
There is a very low representation of women in the political sphere of these countries. You need strong legislation and policies to achieve women empowerment. Therefore, it is very important to include women in policy formulation and the decision-making process. Furthermore, their share in political representation in politics must be increased. You can use the quota system temporarily to include them in the political process. According to the report of the UN, only 15% of the women are members of national parliaments in all the countries of South Asia.
Early Age Marriages:
The South Asian region has a culture of early marriages that lead to great complications for women. It is also a prominent example of the objectification of women. Early marriages have severe consequences for girls. They suffer from lethal health complications and mental disorders. They also go through the hard stage of pregnancy at an age when they have the age of playing and studying. It leads to the Pandora box of problems for the females. It leads to the problem of contraception and many other feminine problems.
A bigger chunk of women is dependent on their males as they are breadwinners in the South Asian region. It is difficult to find The economic dependency of women hinders the process of women empowerment in this region. You will rarely find businesswomen in these countries. Due to poor economic conditions, it becomes easy to exploit them. In addition, they also become the victim of the policies of an international financial institution like the structural adjustment program of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Therefore, there is an emergency need for the economic independence of women.
Inequality in Education:
There is a stark difference in the quality of education for women and men in the South Asian region. According to the data of the World Bank, there is a 65% literacy rate of females whereas there is 81% of literacy rate of males (World bank, 2019). It is a huge difference in terms according to the proportionality of the population. Furthermore, females have lesser opportunities for education as compared to males. Most of the girls, get the education for getting a good proposal of marriage. That’s the irony of female’s education in South Asian countries. Parents invest in their male children to get a quality education while ignoring their female children. Moving on, there is an immense need to minimizing the gender gap in education to utilize the full potential of the population. Therefore, equality in education is the watershed point of women empowerment.
The Way Forward:
To tackle the menace of women subjugation, we need a regional effort and cooperation. Different global and regional organizations are playing their role to empower women. However, we need to expedite this process to get some effective results regarding women empowerment. For Instance, SAARC (South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation) can play an instrumental role in formulating the regional policy to empower women. It can form different committees to have to monitor the performance of its member countries.
It must be allowed to impose different sanctions if any country does not follow its binding policies related to women empowerment. In addition, at the local level, South Asian countries need to increase women representation in all types of decision making processes including social, political and economic decisions. It will give impetus to the process of women emancipation and empowerment.
The Bottom Line:
In short, there is a dire need for women empowerment in the region of South Asia. The inclusion of women in all spheres of life can bring about revolutionary changes in the region. It is time to end the subjugation of women and create a conducive environment to let them flourish. Indeed, it is a gigantic task that needs a lot of energy and time but we have to start from somewhere. If we procrastinate the implementation of women empowerment initiatives, it will become a more difficult and complex issue to handle. Considering all these impediments, we can still knock out gender-based violence and discrimination. Therefore, we need a holistic approach to turn an elusive dream of women empowerment into a reality.