Patriarchy, militarization, and the gender gap in education: The case of Pakistan

Type Thesis or Dissertation - Doctor of Philosophy
Title Patriarchy, militarization, and the gender gap in education: The case of Pakistan
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2009
This study investigated the effects of patriarchy and militarization on women’s
educational attainment in Pakistan, where the literacy rate is among the lowest in the world,
roughly two-thirds of all women cannot read or write, and even modest goals of girls’
primary school enrollments seem elusive. Some progress has been made toward universal
primary school enrollment, but by and large, secondary and tertiary education has remained
beyond the reach of women in many parts of South Asia, including Pakistan.
Efforts to improve women’s education in Pakistan have focused on issues related to
underdevelopment, poverty, and religious fundamentalism. Consequently, most literature
addresses school, family, and community factors as the primary barriers to participation in
education. My thesis represents the first attempt at exploring the power relations emerging
from patriarchy and militarization, and their collective contribution to gender differences in
educational attainment in Pakistan.
Using data from the Adolescent and Youth Survey of Pakistan, conducted by the
Population Council and the government of Pakistan in 2001-2002, I have investigated the
reasons for persistence in women’s low educational attainment. I used binary logistic
regression to analyze three dependent variables: currently attending school, primary school
completion, and ever attended school.
Results of this study suggest that girls are at a distinct disadvantage relative to boys in
educational attainment. Girls are also far less likely to seek an education because of
perceived social undesirability of schooling and lack of empowerment to make decisions
regarding their lives. A further analysis reveals that the disadvantages increase during the
military government. The findings of this study have implications for providing policy
direction toward achieving gender parity in education as a first step and subsequently striving
for universal primary education in postcolonial conflict zones. More specifically, the findings
point to a need to look beyond establishing girls’ primary schools for a solution to the
education crisis.

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