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Global Go To Think Tank Index (GGTTI) 2020 launched                    111,75 Think Tanks across the world ranked in different categories.                SDPI is ranked 90th among “Top Think Tanks Worldwide (non-US)”.           SDPI stands 11th among Top Think Tanks in South & South East Asia & the Pacific (excluding India).            SDPI notches 33rd position in “Best New Idea or Paradigm Developed by A Think Tank” category.                SDPI remains 42nd in “Best Quality Assurance and Integrity Policies and Procedure” category.              SDPI stands 49th in “Think Tank to Watch in 2020”.            SDPI gets 52nd position among “Best Independent Think Tanks”.                           SDPI becomes 63rd in “Best Advocacy Campaign” category.                   SDPI secures 60th position in “Best Institutional Collaboration Involving Two or More Think Tanks” category.                       SDPI obtains 64th position in “Best Use of Media (Print & Electronic)” category.               SDPI gains 66th position in “Top Environment Policy Tink Tanks” category.                SDPI achieves 76th position in “Think Tanks With Best External Relations/Public Engagement Program” category.                    SDPI notches 99th position in “Top Social Policy Think Tanks”.            SDPI wins 140th position among “Top Domestic Economic Policy Think Tanks”.               SDPI is placed among special non-ranked category of Think Tanks – “Best Policy and Institutional Response to COVID-19”.                                            Owing to COVID-19 outbreak, SDPI staff is working from home from 9am to 5pm five days a week. All our staff members are available on phone, email and/or any other digital/electronic modes of communication during our usual official hours. You can also find all our work related to COVID-19 in orange entries in our publications section below.    The Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) is pleased to announce its Twenty-third Sustainable Development Conference (SDC) from 14 – 17 December 2020 in Islamabad, Pakistan. The overarching theme of this year’s Conference is Sustainable Development in the Times of COVID-19. Read more…       FOOD SECIRITY DASHBOARD: On 4th Nov, SDPI has shared the first prototype of Food Security Dashboard with Dr Moeed Yousaf, the Special Assistant to Prime Minister on  National Security and Economic Outreach in the presence of stakeholders, including Ministry of National Food Security and Research. Provincial and district authorities attended the event in person or through zoom. The dashboard will help the government monitor and regulate the supply chain of essential food commodities.

Women at a loss

World Bank’s Human Capital Index (HCI) notes that a female child born in 2020 will be 44 per cent less productive than those born in the pre-pandemic years. HCI measures the contribution of health and education to the world’s citizens’ productivity and economic potential.

As per recent World Bank reports, a female child born in Pakistan today has 59 per cent fewer chances of reaching her full potential. The number is the lowest amongst all countries in the region, and most others in lower-income groups. If the HCI measures are believed, Pakistan is wasting nearly 60 per cent of its human potential.

Moreover, Pakistan ranks 154 out of 184 countries on the Human Development Index (HDI), another UNDP measurement based on life expectancy, education and per capita income. The rankings are a definite cause of worry for a country grappling with several socio-economic concerns. The most troubling part is that when the HCI and HDI rankings for Pakistan are discounted for gender inequality, we find ourselves among the worst performers in the nations’ league.

The startling number of out-of-school children is a prime issue for Pakistan, especially when it comes to girls’ education. Only 27.6 per cent of women have earned secondary level education. This compares poorly with 45.7 per cent achievement for their male counterparts.

With millions of young women unable to continue their education online, young mothers deprived of routine antenatal checkups, coupled with reduced family income in the year 2020, the future appears even bleaker.

The year of the pandemic’s spread has significantly impacted the lives of women everywhere, with the United Nations calling gender-based violence in 2020 a shadow pandemic.

There have been news reports of a surge in domestic violence, honour killings and gender-based violence during the lockdown that has led to an increase in depression, aggression and violent behaviour within households.

With a notable increase in rape cases during the first quarter of 2020, the reported number stands at 1,868. The lockdown, otherwise an effective strategy for containing Covid-19, could not prevent female kidnappings — the number of kidnapped women in the last half of 2020 was a staggering 6,720.

The shift to remote learning and working systems during the pandemic further proved that women are not safe in cyber-spaces, as cases of online harassment increased manifold in the last year.

In the pandemic year, 4,737 women suffered sexual violence, and 1,843 faced severe domestic violence. Unfortunately, most social welfare helplines at the provincial level were shut down during the Covid- -19 lockdown in Pakistan. The police helpline and the Ministry of Human Rights Helpline, which remained available, received approximately 40,000 calls a month seeking a referral, legal advice and actual physical recovery.

National Disaster Management Authority of Pakistan also has a dedicated Gender and Child Cell to support the most vulnerable population during emergencies. After the Sheikhupura gang-rape incident in December, one can only hope that a better emergency helpline system for women and children is established.

As the world moves into 2021, a woman still has many hurdles to cross to succeed in Pakistan.

Female participation in the labour market continues to remain low (21.9 percent compared to 81.7 per cent for men).

One of the primary reasons for women lagging in entrepreneurial ventures is a lack of access to finances. The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has noted that only 3 per cent of small and medium business loans go to women. Only 19 per cent of the microfinance loans go to women.

The Ehsaas programme aimed at supporting women from the low-income background is a step in the right direction.

Notifications such as the Policy for Counteracting Harassment Issues in Educational Institutions, bills like the Protection against Harassment of Women at Workplace Amendment Bill 2019 show the government’s intent to sensitise institutions to the predicament of Pakistani women.

In a significant move at the start of the 2021, Lahore High Court has directed the Government of the Punjab to abolish the virginity tests.

In 2021, actionable research will play a pivotal role in informing policymakers to make better decisions regarding increasing gender equality. Decisive policy changes are pivotal for Pakistan’s improved performance in the HDI and the HCI.

Policymakers and researchers must work together this year to find effective ways to protect and promote the country’s female population. Programmes focused on promoting equality overall should be a focus of research now. Social protection schemes will also help foster a culture of safety and openness and reduce the ever-widening gender gap.

A focus on women empowerment in 2021 is critical to the country’s socio-economic growth. The hope remains that Pakistan, through dedicated effort, will see a change for the better in women’s safety and gender equality measures.

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The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint or stance of SDPI.