Women in Pakistan have been grappling with lots of societal challenges consecutively, and among them, health disparities stand as an absolute challenge for women. Health disparities in Pakistan have been intensifying each passing day to leave a profound impact on women towards their health. A recent World Economic Forum report has shed light on a crucial and often neglected aspect of societal progress – women’s health. According to the recent report, Closing Women’s Health Gap: trillion-dollar Opportunities to Improve Lives and Economies, addressing the health disparities women face not only promises a leap towards gender quality but also unveils a pathway to economic prosperity.
It was estimated that more than 25 per cent of women spend their lives in poor health compared to men. These figures are astounding. It is baffling to comprehend the state quo in Pakistan where a significant number of women find their lives in poor health. Even cases are underreported due to poor keep-recording and the apathy of our policymakers in the country.
Certainly, closing this gap is not merely an imperative, but an economic necessity. Investing in women’s health promises a 1.7 per cent rise in per Capita GDP and can turn every dollar put in into a threefold economic growth. No doubt, the urgency of this issue can’t be overstated in Pakistan. Pakistani women face a multitude of health challenges, exacerbated by limited access to quality healthcare, nutritional deficiencies, and societal norms that prioritise male health.
In no country, where women face such significant health disparities except Pakistan, women often get baffled to inspect this gap which never has been bridged. We often argue about some vital questions regarding women’s inequalities and gender discrimination, but still, no step has been taken on such societal progress yet in Pakistan. As a journalist, recently, I have gazed at a video on social media, in the UK where women are more prioritized than men. Policymakers in Western countries always contemplate women’s rights, incorporating gender discrimination, health relevance and many other entitlements. Therefore, women in such countries often reach imperative stages, which even Pakistani women can’t imagine.
The implications of these challenges are crystal clear and profound: they not only leave an impact on women’s quality of life, but also hamper their ability to participate fully in the workforce and, by extension, national economic development. These harsh challenges for women also discourage them from participating in multifarious social works, and they often consider health disparities a long-standing and endless subject in the country. They are denied their basic rights, and it can have a great impact on society.
Nevertheless, fortunately, the recent initiative by the WEF to launch the Global Alliance for Women’s Health is a laudable step. Because, for Pakistani, engaging with such global platforms can provide significant insights and resources to tackle the health challenges Pakistani women face. The alliance’s focus on financing, science and innovation, and agenda-setting resonates with the approach needed to address health disparities in Pakistan. Investing in women’s health transcends individual benefits – it is a sheer investment in the very fabric of society.
Finally, the organisations and other relevant stakeholders now should keep an eye on this widespread problem and must join hands collaboratively to improve and provide sufficient health materials for women, and put a pause on health disparities in the country once and for all. By prioritizing women’s health, we can unlock potential, drive economic growth, and build a more equitable and prosperous future.
The writer is a freelance columnist.