The entire world including Pakistan is fighting against Covid-19 since its outbreak in China and the frontline fighters in this battle around the globe are doctors, paramedical staff, and security forces. Their efforts are duly recognized and is constantly appreciated through various gestures in different countries. Pakistan honored their doctors and paramedical staff by raising white flags on their houses rooftops and presenting them a public guard of honor. Other than optics, this pandemic may or should also convince countries to invest more on health sector to tackle any such pandemic in future.
However, the more ignored fact among the recent chaos is the role of Pakistani women as a frontline warrior in different capacity against COVID 19. All frontline departments have a reasonable ratio of women however, health sector in Pakistan has relatively more representation which roughly ranges between 26 to 28%. KPK health department has 14,700 doctors and 6045 paramedics staff which do not include Lady health visitors. As per the national percentage, in KPK roughly 4100 lady doctors and a large strength of women paramedic staff is on front line against COVID 19. It is interesting to mention that in some KP hospitals such as Lady Ready Hospital (LRH), more than 1100 female nurses are serving the patients which overall constitute 70% of the total nursing staff.
Pakistan currently ranks 151 out of 153 countries on the global gender parity index which is a sad reflection of government ignorance and our societal attitude. KP fare worst on gender parity index alongwith Balochistan closely followed by other provinces. Woman are stigmatized and has to face numerous hurdles while following a professional career. KP police data shows an overall increase in the number of violence cases against women registered in 2019.
The role of woman in current fight against COVID19 has offered a firsthand insight to what developing countries like Pakistan are missing and why is it important to invest more to ensure equal opportunity for woman. When COVID 19 pandemic is over, this should encourage government to focus more on ensuring gender parity translating it to increase in funds, legislation and opportunities for woman. We as a society also need to evolve from patriarchal system to a more equal system which offers equal opportunities to women.
More broadly, we must build a system which support women’s enhanced role in each facet of life and utilize their full potential. This can only be ensured by equipping women with the requisite skills, training and equal opportunities. A nation can only rise to the top of a ladder if it utilize its full resources and potentials, the sooner we realize this the better it will be for us.