Many girls in Pakistan, especially in rural areas, cannot go to school because their parents fear that sending them outside their neighborhoods would go against their 'family honour', states a World Bank report.
"The net primary enrolment rate for girls in Pakistan is only about 42 to 45 percent. As the girls transit to middle school, there are a high number of dropouts. So virtually, very, very few girls go on to complete middle school and very, very few thereafter go onto secondary or high school," said the report.
AdvertisementStating that the overall concern about the security of the girl and the reputation of the family was restricting women's movement outside their homes, the Country Gender Assessment (CGA) report stated that it was also "limiting their access not only to education but also to medical care, opportunities for paid work, voting, and other forms of political and community participation".
The report quoted Naseem, a mother from Lodhran in southern Punjab, as saying: "Our village elder, my father, said that if our daughter goes outside the village to study, it will become a problem of our honour."
The findings have prompted the World Bank to mull the "idea of offering families in Pakistan stipends to ensure that girls have safe transportation to schools. It's an idea the bank would like to propose to the government of Pakistan," said Tara Vishwanath, the lead author behind the World Bank report.
"They are concerned about allowing a girl to walk outside her community alone. And that comes not necessarily from the fear of them being kidnapped or anything like that. It's much more related to the cultural practices which take the form of seclusion practices - purdah - and things that we know about."
Alongside the financial constrain of constructing more schools in local communities, the report highlights a major hurdle - there are simply too few educated women in many Pakistani villages to staff schools for girls.
A lead economist in the World Bank's South Asia Region, Vishwanath says that restrictions on mobility are undercutting the ability of women to access services.
The report also notes improvements in Pakistan in several sectors. Vishwanath says that overall the gains have mostly been in immunization of children and small improvements in antenatal care.