Quota for women in medical colleges

Published in The Frontier Post  on 2 November 2014


Every year we have an orientation day for the new entrants in the university. After they have been introduced with the faculty and informed about the university rules, they are allowed to ask questions. Few years back one student asked a question that, “Why can’t you limit the intake of girl students. They just get married after graduation whereas boys struggle to find a job with low merit” To this one of the faculty members simply replied “Who has stopped you from studying. Why don’t you work hard. Also, allow your wife to work once you get married”

On 27 September 2014 Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) made its new admission policy public. According to this new policy, girls will not be given more than 50 percent seats even if they are on merit. The reason behind this decision of PMDC was the fact that girls don’t practice medical due to various reasons. Instead of addressing the real problem the government has conveniently decided to kill merit. Its like calling a heart surgeon to treat a bone fracture. Medical is a profession where a little negligence or incompetence can lead to someone’s death. PMDC is now openly allowing incompetent men to enter the field of medicine to avoid competent females.

Due to increasing number of female students its about time that we address the reasons behind them leaving their professions. Its never easy for a a women who has burned the midnight oil to acquire higher education to leave her profession. She has to make a choice between her family and a career, and its always the family that wins.

Countries like United Kingdom allow women to take one year leave after giving birth to a baby. This gives women enough time to spend with her newborn and breastfeed the baby for one year as recommended by the health department. Although, Pakistan is a Muslim country and Islam directs woman to breastfeed her children, women are only allowed to take 12 weeks maternity leave. Lactation break during working hours have never been given due consideration by the organizations hiring women. The woman is not even settled in her new role as a mother when she is required to go back to her work. This often results in a constant feeling of guilt of ignoring her baby and leaving him at the mercy of maids at this young age. This guilt leads to the decision of leaving professional life for good.

There are not enough day care centers where women can leave their children while they go to work. Also, there are no after school clubs where children can be occupied while mothers are at their workplace. Flexible working hours for women with small kids should also be introduced. Facilitating women in carrying out their familial duties will automatically result in women pursuing their careers. It is important to understand that given the opportunity women can lead a very successful career and a very happy family life. It needs to be understood that if you want a women to work you cannot ask her to choose either family or career. She cannot stop being a mother and a wife if she chooses a career. Working environments need to be made conducive for women. Killing merit will not solve the problem. It will instead aggravate the problems due to the incompetent lot who don’t have the merit for the jobs they are doing. This decision of PMDC makes me afraid that it will set a precedent. Tomorrow Pakistan Engineering Council might issue similar notification. Such biased decision will only result in limiting opportunities for women in every sphere of life where they already have too little choices to make.


HEC should broaden its horizon

The letter was published in Daily Dawn in September 2010

This is in reference to the letter by Ali Khan (Sept 23). It is indeed a dilemma that a country where literacy rate is already too low is slashing the budget of the Higher Education Commission.

Thousands of scholars are studying abroad pursuing a PhD funded by HEC. If the Commission stops giving funds to the universities, the scholars will have to return home without getting degrees and hence billions of rupees invested in this regard will be wasted.

The Finance Ministry should provide enough money to the HEC to complete the ongoing projects, if not for new ventures.


United Kingdom

Dams and consensus

The letter was published in Daily Dawn on 1 February 2007

UMAD Mazhar has said the government should go with the project for the greatest interest of the people (letter, Jan 25). I disagree with him when he says that there is only a small fraction of society which is against the building of dams. National consensus is needed when such a big problem is handled.

It is evident from history that the due share of water for Sindh was not given to Sindh on many occasions. That has even been accepted by our president and now he says that he is ready to take the responsibility that no such thing will happen in future.

I am not against the building of dams but they should not be built without a national consensus. If consensus is not developed, we may have to face dire consequences. This may bring a further divide between the provinces. Farmers from smaller provinces should feel secure with the construction of dams and not threatened by it.


Changing status, new challenges

The letter was published in Daily Dawn on 3 May 2008

INCREASING literacy has somehow empowered women and they are making inroads into every sphere of life, earlier considered the exclusive domain of men.

Equality has not been achieved yet, but women have proved themselves as successful pilots, doctors, lawyers, journalists, entrepreneurs and technocrats. All this is not without a price.

In retrospect, women faced crimes transferred from old times and they demanded emancipation. The main causes of passed-on crimes were that women were considered superfluous and feeble.

They were stigmatised as ill-fated In recent times women are facing sorts of newly-created crimes linked with their independence because men are not ready to accept women as equal.

They think women equality has resulted in greater ignominy for them.

This is because of taboo behaviour of women being obsequious unskilled labour or housewives.

Patriarchal society is so often being condemned these days regarding the rights of women. The question here rises that is it only the archaic system which humiliates woman and does not recognise her basic rights?

The man-dominated society might have been a reason behind her not getting the respect that she actually deserves but it is in fact women’s disempowerment which promotes heinous crimes to be carried out against them without the fear of being punished.

Since childhood every girl is taught to respect or rather we can say fear the male members of the family.

Often she has to see her mother being browbeaten, humiliated and tortured by her father. Men whatever evil they do don’t leave a scar on the family’s face but if a woman seeks a judicial help, she is looked down upon and is accused of giving a bad name to the family.

Girls from the lower strata of society are denied their basic rights. So are well-educated girls from upper strata who are not even allowed to make a choice of a life partner or to pursue a career on their own.

A woman is rarely able to fight out her case in a court of law. The question that often haunts her is where she will eventually end up after winning the case.

Indeed it is a difficult question to answer. Daarul Amaan cannot be termed a haven for any woman coming from a sound family. The answer to this question lies in empowering women.

Women should not only be educated but should also be made financially independent.

Men greatly fear that if a woman will start working, she won’t allow herself to be humiliated or tortured by them.

NGOs that are working for women’s welfare should also launch some programmes to enlighten men about women’s right.

Law-enforcement agencies should also respect those women who seek their help in solving their problems.