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Lack of access to education for girls is part of a broader landscape of gender inequality in Pakistan.
By grade six, 59 percent of girls are out of school, versus 49 percent of boys.
Only 13 percent of girls are still in school by ninth grade.
Both boys and girls are missing out on education in unacceptable numbers, but girls are worst affected.
Political instability, disproportionate influence on governance by security forces, repression of civil society and the media, violent insurgency, and escalating ethnic and religious tensions all poison Pakistan’s current social landscape.
Pakistan’s highly decentralized structure of government means that many decisions regarding education policy are made at the subnational level.
The result is a separate planning process in every province, on a different timeline, with varying approaches, levels of effectiveness and commitment to improving access to education for girls.
Across all provinces generation after generation of children, especially girls, are locked out of education—and into poverty.
In interviews for this report, girls talked again and again about their desire for education, their wish to “be someone,” and how these dreams had been crushed by being unable to study.
While handing off responsibility to private school operators and religious schools might seem like a solution, nothing can absolve the state of its obligation, under international and domestic law, to ensure that all children receive a decent education—something that simply is not happening in Pakistan today.
Moreover, despite all the barriers, many people interviewed for this report described a growing demand for girls’ education, including in marginalized communities.