Gender, WASH and education case study: Enhancing girls’ participation in schools in Pakistan

In 2010, Pakistan was ranked 125 out of 169 countries in the United Nations (UN) Human Development Index, and falls under the category of ‘medium’ human development.1 It has a population of 176 million, around 48 per cent of whom are women. It is estimated that half of the population is illiterate, including two out of three women. Poverty is widespread, with one in four people living below the poverty line, unable to meet their basic needs. Half of them live in the Punjab, Pakistan’s most populous province.
It is estimated that 6.8 million children are out of school – the second largest out-of-school population in the world after Nigeria according to Global Monitoring Report 2010 – accounting for 7 per cent of global absentees.2 In recent years, the country’s literacy rate has improved at a moderate pace. According to data from the 2007–08 Pakistan Social and Living Standards Measurement (PSLM) Survey, the overall literacy rate (those aged ten years old and above) was 56 per cent, and rose by 1 per cent to 57 per cent in 2008-2009.