Rural girls in Pakistan: Constraints of policy and culture
Cynthia Lloyd, Cem Mete, and Monica Grant
ot all girls suffer the same educational disadvantages in Pakistan. Girls living in urban areas whose families come from the highest quartile of the income distribution are almost as likely as their male peers to have attended school or completed the five grades of primary schooling. By contrast, no more than a third as many girls as boys from the lowest income quartile of the income distribution who live in rural areas of Pakistan have ever attended school, and less than a quarter as many girls as boys in the same circumstances have completed primary school. Poor girls living in rural areas thus suffer a triple disadvantage, with their poverty and rural location compounding the gender-based disadvantage experienced by their better-off urban peers. The identification of policy prescriptions that could lead to the achievement of universal primary schooling in the context of these overlapping layers of disadvantage requires a full understanding of their determinants in Pakistan. In explaining the relatively large and persistent countrywide gender gap in schooling, experts have typically given weight to both demand- and supply-side constraints. These include poverty and parental concerns about the safety and mobility of their daughters on the demand side and underinvestment in girls’ schooling on the supply side. The very recent rapid rise in private school enrollment at the primary level in rural Pakistan (Sathar and others 2006; Andrabi, Das, and Khwaja 2002, 2006) suggests the possibility, however, that there may be a large reservoir of unmet
RURAL GIRLS IN PAKISTAN: CONSTRAINTS OF POLICY AND CULTURE
demand for girls’ schooling in rural areas. These recent and dramatic shifts in the distribution of enrollment between the public and private sectors challenge us to seek a deeper understanding of the factors that may contribute to the...