[Opinion] Status of women in Gilgit – Baltistan

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Shamim Ali

The population of the newly named province of Gilgit-Baltistan is around 2.0million and 99% of the populations are the followers of Islam. We believe in Quran and the Quran says that men and women be equal before God, and gave them diverse of rights such as the right to inheritance, the right to choose their own partners in marriages, the right to work and the right to vote.

For centuries, women from Gilgit- Baltistan have been deprived of these rights either by government verdict or by their husbands, fathers, brothers and the society around her. She is also denied to speak up for her rights by highlighting their values and cultures.

Today, on the International Women’s Day, I would like to highlight some of the achievement and failure points from our last event. No doubt women have made progress in many ways; from education to working for different organizations and also taking part in politics. These credits go to the international and national non-profit organizations (NGOs) working in the region for the last thirty years. These NGOs have worked their best level to provide opportunities to women in all life aspects.

But there are some major areas to highlight on this event to share with all readers of Pamir Times and women who play significant roles in our society for the upliftment of social development in general and women’s equality in particular. Some of the highlighted obstacles are as under;

First, celebrating the women’s international day in my country and region, I always take a moment to realize the pros and cons, the achievements and failures of our voices from the last event for the right of equality but not for women’s right specifically. No doubt the female education ratio has increased since last decade but still women have few seats in our Provincial assembly. No doubt we have better and competent women politicians in our province but the uneducated and old man is preferred as better politician in our society and our assembly.

Second, education is very important both for men and women but when we go through the history of girl’s education in some parts of our region, parents or societies are not in favor of providing equal right of education for girls. In some parts of our region numerous schools for girls have been burned down and girls have even been killed for daring to go to school.

Women is not given the equal right to marry by her choice, notwithstanding the fact that women have the right to choose their life partner. During the last five years, six professional women were killed by their fathers, brothers and relatives because they chose to marry by their own choice. They were using their right for their life. They were brutally killed by hitting axes on their necks and killing them by using electric wires and ropes around their necks.

Third, gender based violence are increased in our society and region. Women and girls are killed in the name of honour. Some areas, including the region’s only university, are becoming place where the people hesitate to interact because of social prejudices.

Moreover, women were killed because they could not feed them food and were forced for begging. Women were forbidden to work and leave the house without a male company. Women from some regions are not allowed to seek medical help from a male doctor and are forced to cover themselves from head to toe with the shuttle-cock shaped Burqa even their eyes.

So far, women have been allowed work, almost in all fields and organizations and some of our women are working on leading positions in non-profit organizations and in the government sector. Despite all these changes many challenges, some discussed above, still remain.

The repression of women is still prevalent in rural areas where many families still restrict their own mothers, sisters, wives and daughters from participation in public life and other public services. Still we need to work together for the right of equity and equality. I hope we, educated men and educated women together will work towards resolutions of these issues.

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Pamir Times

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Pamir Times is the pioneering community news and views portal of Gilgit – Baltistan, Kohistan, Chitral and the surrounding mountain areas. It is a voluntary, not-for-profit, non-partisan and independent venture initiated by the youth.