Inclusivity in Climate change: how far have the women come?

Fozia Parveen*

Women’s Day is a reminder for us to look at how the world is shaping around us in this day and age. Pakistan’s average CO2 emissions is 1.05 tonnes per capita compared to the global average of 4.82 tonnes per capita. Regardless of our contribution to global greenhouse (GHG) emissions, we have been declared the 5th country most vulnerable to the impacts of Climate change. Roughly half of the workforce in agriculture comprises of women and they have a major role to play in food security. Women therefore, have a significant role to play in adapting sustainably to the impacts of climate change. 

The first World Women’s Congress (8-12 November 1991) for a Healthy Planet in Miami, Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO) brought together more than 1,500 women from 83 countries to work jointly on a strategy for UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). If the peasant women from India could stop cutting of trees and commercial activity under the Chipko Movement in the 1970s, the more informed and more educated women have even bigger responsibilities in saving the planet, especially in this age of information and technology. Despite all the efforts, the women’s agenda 21 was not very inclusive and the following year, UNCED’s agenda 21 did not include many points from the said agenda. However, this still was a very positive step towards making women a part of the process. 

It is well established that women are severely affected by climate change and natural disasters and this impact is created by the prevailing inequality in the society, on top of poverty, discrimination and patriarchy i.e. the inequitable social and cultural norms. It is therefore that we need an ecological accounting system, capable of tracking and promoting climate just economic practices at every level, from local to global and is also inclusive of all intersections of society. This then brings the focus on the concept of globalisation and capitalism. By creating the concept that world is homogenous and economic globalisation is achievable, cultures and identities are being destroyed. The capability of small scale local businesses and their capability of being climate just is being undermined. This also indirectly affects women as most women run very local and small scale businesses. Due to their limited resources they either become prey to bigger business and get very little pay for the work they do or never really reach the consumers that would value their work. The corporate world has in fact jeopardised small and sustainable businesses in general and small and sustainable women businesses in particular.

The corporate world has colonised everything from TV, education and education systems, supporting women initiative, becoming green, universalising consumer and commercialising youth etc. They are involved in all sectors from food to water, food and energy to biotechnology and so on.  The degree of injustice is remarkable as Michael Jordan was paid $20 million for promoting NIKE shoes, which is far greater than the total annual payroll of all the employees in the Indonesian factories that make the shoes (5 cents/hour). Women often stand at the centre of these injustices and their voice therefore matters.

The corporates need to understand that their mandatory corporate social money initiatives are not representative of the environmental damage they pose on the planet. As biggest polluters their responsibilities go way beyond corporate social responsibility (CSR). Women can raise their voice in endorsing the concept of extended producer responsibility (EPR) instead, where the producer is responsible for the extended life of their product. 

More and more women need to come in businesses, and key decision making positions especially at a national and international level so that their sensitive approach can make the planet sustainable and also sensitise people around them.


Beautiful people

Being bullied for my weight is the earliest memory I have of school. Being told that “you’re a fat tub of lard…” is my strongest memory of an interaction with a trusted relative from my formative years. Throughout my school years I hid in classrooms and libraries so I could avoid the verbal, sometimes physical hostility, from some of my peers. I was weak for I had not known what strength was. I was not empowered for I could not find my voice. I was lost for solutions because I hid what hurt me day in and day out. 

So – when a little while ago I made a Meer Monday promise of writing something about body image, I had naturally considered the trajectory of childhood obesity, associated playground bullying and the challenges of social exclusion and discrimination manifesting into low self-esteem, anxiety and depression. 

However, I am painfully reminded on a regular basis that the ridicule, bullying and victimisation has not ended on the concreted playgrounds of our educational institutions. It transgresses and follows us into our adult lives, work spaces, social spaces and worst of all, the havens that we call home and family. 

So it stands to reason that we talk about all of that today. However, before we proceed, I would like to offer disclaimers. This extended monologue is NOT about the scientific reasons of obesity or indeed, any short-cut solutions. It is a narrative, which focuses on the effects of negative experiences pertaining to body image and societal reactions. 

I have deviated from my usual clinical style of writing, which is succinct, factual and usually drawing upon statistics. Instead, there shall be an outpour of personal experience with the intentions of giving an insider’s view of what is wrong with and what needs to be focused upon in order to nurture a society, which can move beyond its stereotypes and prejudices.  

I was at a wedding over the weekend and was reprimanded on an individual’s inability for “not recognising you…you have gained so much weight, how did you let yourself go?”, as well as being the comedic interval for some “Oh, so fat you have gotten, max lol” (then said individual proceeded to do a King Kong expression). The best ones are of course the aunties with the life changing advice of “Eat salads and go to the gym”. I could applaud such astute and gifted advice. 

Some of them are even quite concerned about your life moving forward, “You know, if you don’t lose weight then you shall only get married to someone like you”. What? To a progressive liberal who has been emancipated through the culmination of his life experiences leading him to accept and love humanity based on the credentials of their personality, moral values and NOT their dress size? Thank you Aunty, I shall have one of them to go right now. 

Not having a friend until college years challenged my concepts of healthy friendships and relationships. The longest running cognitive defect I have carried has been the lack of self-worth and believing that I do not deserve friends, do not deserve kindness and do not deserve love because of how I look. It was not until I was in Oxford that I found the most fundamental aspect of an individual’s social growth and progress – the facilitation of accepting of oneself wholly; recognition for the value of one’s existence and most importantly NOT being apologetic about it. 

How did that come to be for me? I was lucky to find a group of friends who looked beyond physical appearances. They recognised me for what I had to offer regarding my values, ideologies and most importantly, the quality of friendship. They have fiercely challenged my biases against myself and reprimanded me against the unkindness I have shown myself. 

The outcome of this is a thirty-one-year-old unmarried overweight brown female who values and believes in herself and her contribution to the lives of those individuals who are linked to her (oh, and she now has a tendency of owning the dance floor once she gets the moves going – thank you, Abhilasha). 

The perceptive ones amongst you will have noted the references made to certain parameters of age, race and marital status. All of these are further examples of artefacts that have no real significance except being arbitrary descriptors, which are utilised to judge and draw an irrelevant correlation to the worth of an individual’s existence. Unfortunately, these artefacts will continue to plague individuals and their self-worth unless a conscious effort is made to alter this. 

So where do we begin? Firstly, challenge yourself. Do you hold discriminatory values? Do you make jest of an individual’s personal features be it weight, appearance, mannerisms etc? Do you laugh at the fat jokes, black jokes, gay jokes, sexist jokes? Stop doing it and where appropriate (hint: appropriate at ALWAYS) make an apology for your decorum. 

Secondly, identify bullying behaviour. Is this happening in your child’s school or playground? Is this happening in your home? Who is it happening to? How is this affecting them? Challenge such behaviour – do it with kindness but with assertiveness. 

Thirdly, educate. I firmly believe that a moral education begins long before a child enters school, in the confines of their home and personal environment. Teach them about acceptance, kindness and eradicate archaic social concepts of what a right and wrong body should look like. Show them how to empower those who are broken and vulnerable. Enable them to create spaces of fairness and justice, where bullies are challenged. 

Fourthly, challenge institutions. Schools, colleges and universities are sacred intellectual spaces. Their responsibility does not stop once the examination papers have been handed in. They are a key component in shaping the environment where individuals grow, develop their sense of personality and find their social standing. Arguably it therefore becomes our duty to ensure our intellectual spaces facilitate anti-bullying and anti-harassment policies. Expect these institutions, which have a moral and legal obligation to safeguard our children, to gather information of the social practices within their grounds and inform us about the experiences of our youth. Only then we can collectively attempt to make individual experiences better and not lead people down paths of doubt, low self esteem and broken morale. 

-by Dr Huma R Khan

Understating Plastic to minimise plastic waste

‘Say no to plastic because a plastic bag takes 200-1000 years to degrade’ each time I say this in my anti plastic campaign, I wonder what has the humble plastic got to do with all this? It has only been around to help us, completely misused by us. Plastic is not the monster. We are the monsters. There is a plastic monster in each and every one of us that needs to be exorcized. Thus, as a part of our campaign against single use plastic and in celebration of plastic free July, I decided to write a series of blogs for awareness and education on plastic so that it can be refused. This is a basic scientific article on plastic and what all of us should know about it. The blogs to follow will recommend future steps and ways to avoid them. So, here we go!

Figure 1: Lifecycle of plastics (source:WWF)

The first synthetic plastic called celluloid was plant based, made from cellulose. In 1869, John Wesley Hyatt used cellulose nitrate as a substitute for ivory. Celluloid found its use in photographic films, buttons, combs, eye frames etc. Other naturally occurring substance such as horns of animals, shellac, gutta-percha were also used as plastic material.

John Rex Whinfield invented a new polymer in 1941 when he condensed ethylene glycol with terephthalic acid. The condensate was polyethylene terephthalate (PET or PETE).

It was in 1951, that two chemists at Phillips Petroleum Company in Bartlesville discovered polypropylene and polyethylene and revolutionised the world of plastic as we know it today. This great discovery although inexpensive has cost a great deal to our environments as the environment has evolved to deal with this discovery. It has therefore resulted in a large amount of solid waste dominated by plastic that will take thousands of years to degrade. The road from petroleum to plastic is as follows:

Petroleum drilling –> Crude oil and natural gas refining to petrochemicals, fuel, ethane and propane etc –> Ethane and propane are cracked into ethylene and propylene at high temperature –> Catalysts are combined with them to form fluff (polymer) –> Fluff is combined with additives –> Polymer is melted in an extruder –> Melted plastic is turned into small pellets by a pelletizer –> Pellets are shipped and converted into desired products using various processes (see Annexe I for the processes)

Nearly all the plastic around us is now synthetic and made from polymers, as presented already. There are different types of plastics (Figure 2)

Figure 2: Plastic types and recycling frequency (source: BBC)

Polyethylene terephthalate (PET or PETE)

PET has good gas and moisture barrier, high heat resistance, is clear, hard, tough and solvent resistant, Items made from PET are mostly recycled.PET(E) plastic is used to make many common household items like mineral water, beverage bottles, medicine jars, rope, clothing and carpet fibre etc 

High Density Polyethylene (HDPE)

HDPE has Excellent moisture barrier properties, excellent chemical resistance, hard to semi-flexible and strong Soft waxy surface, permeable to gas, HDPE films crinkle to the touch ,pigmented bottles and stress resistant. High-Density Polyethylene products are very safe and are not known to transmit any chemicals into foods or drinks. HDPE products are commonly recycled. Items made from this plastic include containers for milk, motor oil, shampoos and conditioners, soap bottles, detergents, toys, buckets, rigid pipes, plant pots, plastic furnitures and bleaches. It is NEVER safe to reuse an HDPE bottle as a food or drink container if it didn’t originally contain food or drink. 

Polyvinyl Chloride

PVC has excellent transparency, is hard, rigid (flexible when plasticised), has good chemical resistance, long term stability, good weathering ability, stable electrical properties, low gas permeability. Polyvinyl Chloride is sometimes recycled. PVC is used for all kinds of pipes and tiles, but is most commonly found in plumbing pipes. Credit cards, carpet backing and other floor covering, window and door frame and synthetic leather products. This kind of plastic should not come in contact with food items as it can be harmful if ingested. 

Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE)

LDPE is tough hand flexible, waxy surface, soft – scratches easily, good transparency, low melting point, stable electrical properties, good moisture barrier properties. Low-Density Polyethylene is sometimes recycled. It tends to be both durable and flexible. Items such as cling-film, sandwich bags, squeezable bottles, irrigation pipes, thick shopping bags, wire and cable application, and plastic grocery bags are made from LDPE. 

Polypropylene (PP)

PP has excellent chemical resistance, high melting point, hard but flexible, waxy surface, translucent, strong. Polypropylene is occasionally recycled. PP is strong and can usually withstand higher temperatures. It is used to make lunch boxes, margarine containers, ketchup and syrup bottles, potato crisp bags, biscuit wrappers, drinking straws, hinged lunch boxes, yogurt pots, syrup bottles, prescription bottles. Plastic bottle caps are often made from PP. 


PS has clear to opaque glassy surface rigid or foamed hard, brittle, high clarity, affected by fats and solvents. Polystyrene is commonly recycled, but is difficult to do. Items such as disposable coffee cups, plastic food boxes, plastic cutlery, egg boxes, coat hangers, fast food trays, and packing foam are made from PS. 


There are other polymers that have a wide range of uses, particularly in engineering sectors. They are identified with the number 7 and OTHER (or a triangle with numbers from 7 to 19). e.g. Nylon (PA), Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), Polycarbonate (PC), Layered or multi-material mixed polymer.

Code 7 is used to designate miscellaneous types of plastic not defined by the other six codes. Polycarbonate and Polylactideare included in this category. These types of plastics are difficult to recycle. Polycarbonate (PC) is used in baby bottles, compact discs, and medical storage containers. 

note: A number of additives are added to plastic and they include colorants, foaming agents, antioxidant, lubricants, flame retardants, anti microbials, plastisizers, etc to achieve the desired quality in the final products

The more you learn about plastic the more complicated it gets but perhaps to unlearn our plastic use habit we need to know all of this..

Talk to you soon

Meanwhile refuse all plastic you can

live simply

live happily

and don’t forget to spread love and not plastic pollution

Annexe I

Injection Molding: The plastic compound, heated to a semifluid state, is squirted into a mold under great pressure and hardens quickly. The mold then opens and the part is released. Suited for mass production such as bottle caps and toys etc

Extrusion Molding: Most widely used. A heated plastic compound is forced continuously through a forming die made in the desired shape (like squeezing toothpaste from a tube, it produces a long, usually narrow, continuous product). The formed plastic cools under blown air or in a water bath and hardens on a moving belt. Rods, tubes, pipes, and sheet and thin film (such as food wraps) are extruded then coiled or cut to desired lengths.

Blow Molding: pressure is used to form hollow objects, such as the soda pop bottle or two-gallon milk bottle, in a direct or indirect method. In the direct blow-molding method, a partially shaped, heated plastic form is inserted into a mold. Air is blown into the form, forcing it to expand to the shape of the mold. In the indirect method, a plastic sheet or special shape is heated then clamped between a die and a cover. Air is forced between the plastic and the cover and presses the material into the shape of the die.

Few links


Sustainable Development Goals

Why should everyone know about them 

Huma, asked me to write and introductory post on SDGs to which I instantly agreed. Partly because everyone should know it and partly because there is suddenly so much more activism in this world that lacks knowledge. 

Here are a few things you need to know before I speak about SDGs.

Report of The World Commission on Environment and Development: Our Common Future

  • In 1983, the United Nations Secretary-General invited Norwegian prime minister Gro Harlem Brundtland to chair this commission.
  • The Brundtland Commission delivered its report on Our Common Future in 1987.
  • The concept of ‘sustainable development’ was launched.
  • It led to the first Earth Summit – the UN Conference on Environment and Development – at Rio de Janeiro in 1992, and to the formulation of Agenda 21.

Our common future was a report with a tagline ‘From one earth to one world’ had three parts 

  • Part I- Common Concerns 
    • Part II- Common Challenges 
    • Part III- Common Endeavors
  • The report alerted the world to the urgency of making progress toward economic development that could be sustained without depleting natural resources or harming the environment.
  • Chapters distribution is as follows

Chapter 1: A Threatened Future 
Chapter 2: Towards Sustainable Development 
Chapter 3: The Role of the International Economy 
Chapter 4: Population and Human Resources 
Chapter 5: Food Security: Sustaining the Potential 
Chapter 6: Species and Ecosystems: Resources for Development 
Chapter 7: Energy: Choices for Environment and Development 
Chapter 8: Industry: Producing More with Less 
Chapter 9: The Urban Challenge 
Chapter 10: Managing the Commons 
Chapter 11: Peace, Security, Development, and the Environment 

  • The report also Defined sustainable development as 

“Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

  • It Led to the production of Agenda 21- An action plan of the UN with regard to sustainable development, actions to be taken globally, nationally and locally, in order to make life on earth sustainbale-.
  • It aimed to discuss the environment and development as a single issue.
  • It highlighted three fundamental components of sustainable development 
    • The Environment 
    • The Economy
    • The Society

The Brundtland Report was primarily concerned with securing a global equity, redistributing resources towards poorer nations whilst encouraging their economic growth. The report also suggested that equity, growth and environmental maintenance are simultaneously possible and that each country is capable of achieving its full economic potential whilst at the same time enhancing its resource base. The report also recognized that achieving this equity and sustainable growth would require technological and social change.

The report highlighted three fundamental components to sustainable development: environmental protection, economic growth and social equity. The environment should be conserved and our resource base enhanced, by gradually changing the ways in which we develop and use technologies. Developing nations must be allowed to meet their basic needs of employment, food, energy, water and sanitation. If this is to be done in a sustainable manner, then there is a definite need for a sustainable level of population. Economic growth should be revived and developing nations should be allowed a growth of equal quality to the developed nations.

Figure 1: fundamental components of Sustainable development 

Figure 1 can be elaborated using figure 2.

Figure 2: Fundamental components of SD-detailed

The agenda 21 was basically superseded by agenda 2030. A set of goals to be met by 2030.

Agenda 2030

  • In 2015, countries adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals. In 2016, the Paris Agreement on climate change entered into force, addressing the need to limit the rise of global temperatures.
  • Declaration.
  • Vision
  • Commitment 
  • The new agenda
    • 17 goals and 169 associated targets that came into effect on 1st January 2016 to guide the decisions in the next 15 years. 
    • Means of Implementation
  • The world will be a better place in 2030 if we succeed in our objectives.


This Agenda is a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity. It also seeks to strengthen universal peace in larger freedom. We recognize that eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions, including extreme poverty, is the greatest global challenge and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development. All countries and all stakeholders, acting in collaborative partnership, will implement this plan. We are resolved to free the human race from the tyranny of poverty and want and to heal and secure our planet. We are determined to take the bold and transformative steps which are urgently needed to shift the world onto a sustainable and resilient path. As we embark on this collective journey, we pledge that no one will be left behind. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals and 169 targets which we are announcing today demonstrate the scale and ambition of this new universal Agenda. They seek to build on the Millennium Development Goals and complete what these did not achieve. They seek to realize the human rights of all and to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls. They are integrated and indivisible and balance the three dimensions of sustainable development: the economic, social and environmental. 

The Goals and targets will stimulate action over the next fifteen years in areas of critical importance for humanity and the planet:

Figure 3: The 5P’s of Sustainable development 

The Goals and targets will stimulate action over the next fifteen years in areas of critical importance for humanity and the planet:


We are determined to end poverty and hunger, in all their forms and dimensions, and to ensure that all human beings can fulfil their potential in dignity and equality and in a healthy environment. 


We are determined to protect the planet from degradation, including through sustainable consumption and production, sustainably managing its natural resources and taking urgent action on climate change, so that it can support the needs of the present and future generations. 


We are determined to ensure that all human beings can enjoy prosperous and fulfilling lives and that economic, social and technological progress occurs in harmony with nature. 


We are determined to foster peaceful, just and inclusive societies which are free from fear and violence. There can be no sustainable development without peace and no peace without sustainable development.


We are determined to mobilize the means required to implement this Agenda through a revitalised Global Partnership for Sustainable Development, based on a spirit of strengthened global solidarity, focussed in particular on the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable and with the participation of all countries, all stakeholders and all people.

The interlinkages and integrated nature of the Sustainable Development Goals are of crucial importance in ensuring that the purpose of the new Agenda is realised. If we realize our ambitions across the full extent of the Agenda, the lives of all will be profoundly improved and our world will be transformed for the better.

(we: the people of this planet)

Goal 1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere 

1.1 By 2030, eradicate extreme poverty for all people everywhere, currently measured as people living on less than $1.25 a day 

1.2 By 2030, reduce at least by half the proportion of men, women and children of all ages living in poverty in all its dimensions according to national definitions  
1.3 Implement nationally appropriate social protection systems and measures for all, including floors, and by 2030 achieve substantial coverage of the poor and the vulnerable  
1.4 By 2030, ensure that all men and women, in particular the poor and the vulnerable, have equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to basic services, ownership and control over land and other forms of property, inheritance, natural resources, appropriate new technology and financial services, including microfinance 
1.5 By 2030, build the resilience of the poor and those in vulnerable situations and reduce their exposure and vulnerability to climate-related extreme events and other economic, social and environmental shocks and disasters  
1.a Ensure significant mobilization of resources from a variety of sources, including through enhanced development cooperation, in order to provide adequate and predictable means for developing countries, in particular least developed countries, to implement programmes and policies to end poverty in all its dimensions 
1.b Create sound policy frameworks at the national, regional and international levels, based on pro-poor and gender-sensitive development strategies, to support accelerated investment in poverty eradication actions

Goal 2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture 

2.1 By 2030, end hunger and ensure access by all people, in particular the poor and people in vulnerable situations, including infants, to safe, nutritious and sufficient food all year round 
2.2 By 2030, end all forms of malnutrition, including achieving, by 2025, the internationally agreed targets on stunting and wasting in children under 5 years of age, and address the nutritional needs of adolescent girls, pregnant and lactating women and older persons 
2.3 By 2030, double the agricultural productivity and incomes of small-scale food producers, in particular women, indigenous peoples, family farmers, pastoralists and fishers, including through secure and equal access to land, other productive resources and inputs, knowledge, financial services, markets and opportunities for value addition and non-farm employment  
2.4 By 2030, ensure sustainable food production systems and implement resilient agricultural practices that increase productivity and production, that help maintain ecosystems, that strengthen capacity for adaptation to climate change, extreme weather, drought, flooding and other disasters and that progressively improve land and soil quality 
2.5 By 2020, maintain the genetic diversity of seeds, cultivated plants and farmed and domesticated animals and their related wild species, including through soundly managed and diversified seed and plant banks at the national, regional and international levels, and promote access to and fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge, as internationally agreed 
2.a Increase investment, including through enhanced international cooperation, in rural infrastructure, agricultural research and extension services, technology development and plant and livestock gene banks in order to enhance agricultural productive capacity in developing countries, in particular least developed countries 
2.b Correct and prevent trade restrictions and distortions in world agricultural markets, including through the parallel elimination of all forms of agricultural export subsidies and all export measures with equivalent effect, in accordance with the mandate of the Doha Development Round  
2.c Adopt measures to ensure the proper functioning of food commodity markets and their derivatives and facilitate timely access to market information, including on food reserves, in order to help limit extreme food price volatility

Goal 3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

3.1 By 2030, reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births 
3.2 By 2030, end preventable deaths of newborns and children under 5 years of age, with all countries aiming to reduce neonatal mortality to at least as low as 12 per 1,000 live births and under-5 mortality to at least as low as 25 per 1,000 live births 
3.3 By 2030, end the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and neglected tropical diseases and combat hepatitis, water-borne diseases and other communicable diseases 
3.4 By 2030, reduce by one third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment and promote mental health and well-being  
3.5 Strengthen the prevention and treatment of substance abuse, including narcotic drug abuse and harmful use of alcohol  
3.6 By 2020, halve the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents 
3.7 By 2030, ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services, including for family planning, information and education, and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programmes 
3.8 Achieve universal health coverage, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential health-care services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all  
3.9 By 2030, substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water and soil pollution and contamination  
3.a Strengthen the implementation of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in all countries, as appropriate 
3.b Support the research and development of vaccines and medicines for the communicable and non-communicable diseases that primarily affect developing countries, provide access to affordable essential medicines and vaccines, in accordance with the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health, which affirms the right of developing countries to use to the full the provisions in the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights regarding flexibilities to protect public health, and, in particular, provide access to medicines for all  
3.c Substantially increase health financing and the recruitment, development, training and retention of the health workforce in developing countries, especially in least developed countries and small island developing States 
3.d Strengthen the capacity of all countries, in particular developing countries, for early warning, risk reduction and management of national and global health risks

Goal 4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all 

4.1 By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes  
4.2 By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education so that they are ready for primary education 
4.3 By 2030, ensure equal access for all women and men to affordable and quality technical, vocational and tertiary education, including university 
4.4 By 2030, substantially increase the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship 
4.5 By 2030, eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and children in vulnerable situations  
4.6 By 2030, ensure that all youth and a substantial proportion of adults, both men and women, achieve literacy and numeracy 
4.7 By 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development  
4.a Build and upgrade education facilities that are child, disability and gender sensitive and provide safe, non-violent, inclusive and effective learning environments for all  
4.b By 2020, substantially expand globally the number of scholarships available to developing countries, in particular least developed countries, small island developing States and African countries, for enrolment in higher education, including vocational training and information and communications technology, technical, engineering and scientific programmes, in developed countries and other developing countries 
4.c By 2030, substantially increase the supply of qualified teachers, including through international cooperation for teacher training in developing countries, especially least developed countries and small island developing States

Goal 5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls 

5.1 End all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere  
5.2 Eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation  
5.3 Eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation 
5.4 Recognize and value unpaid care and domestic work through the provision of public services, infrastructure and social protection policies and the promotion of shared responsibility within the household and the family as nationally appropriate 
5.5 Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life  
5.6 Ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights as agreed in accordance with the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development and the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome documents of their review conferences 
5.a Undertake reforms to give women equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to ownership and control over land and other forms of property, financial services, inheritance and natural resources, in accordance with national laws 
5.b Enhance the use of enabling technology, in particular information and communications technology, to promote the empowerment of women 
5.c Adopt and strengthen sound policies and enforceable legislation for the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls at all levels

Goal 6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

6.1 By 2030, achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all  
6.2 By 2030, achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations  
6.3 By 2030, improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally 
6.4 By 2030, substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity  
6.5 By 2030, implement integrated water resources management at all levels, including through transboundary cooperation as appropriate  
6.6 By 2020, protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes 
6.a By 2030, expand international cooperation and capacity-building support to developing countries in water- and sanitation-related activities and programmes, including water harvesting, desalination, water efficiency, wastewater treatment, recycling and reuse technologies 
6.b Support and strengthen the participation of local communities in improving water and sanitation management

Goal 7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all

7.1 By 2030, ensure universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services  
7.2 By 2030, increase substantially the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix  
7.3 By 2030, double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency 
7.a By 2030, enhance international cooperation to facilitate access to clean energy research and technology, including renewable energy, energy efficiency and advanced and cleaner fossil-fuel technology, and promote investment in energy infrastructure and clean energy technology  
7.b By 2030, expand infrastructure and upgrade technology for supplying modern and sustainable energy services for all in developing countries, in particular least developed countries, small island developing States, and land-locked developing countries, in accordance with their respective programmes of support

Goal 8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all

8.1 Sustain per capita economic growth in accordance with national circumstances and, in particular, at least 7 per cent gross domestic product growth per annum in the least developed countries 
8.2 Achieve higher levels of economic productivity through diversification, technological upgrading and innovation, including through a focus on high-value added and labour-intensive sectors  
8.3 Promote development-oriented policies that support productive activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and encourage the formalization and growth of micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises, including through access to financial services  
8.4 Improve progressively, through 2030, global resource efficiency in consumption and production and endeavour to decouple economic growth from environmental degradation, in accordance with the 10-year framework of programmes on sustainable consumption and production, with developed countries taking the lead  
8.5 By 2030, achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value 
8.6 By 2020, substantially reduce the proportion of youth not in employment, education or training  
8.7 Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms 
8.8 Protect labour rights and promote safe and secure working environments for all workers, including migrant workers, in particular women migrants, and those in precarious employment  
8.9 By 2030, devise and implement policies to promote sustainable tourism that creates jobs and promotes local culture and products  
8.10 Strengthen the capacity of domestic financial institutions to encourage and expand access to banking, insurance and financial services for all  
8.a Increase Aid for Trade support for developing countries, in particular least developed countries, including through the Enhanced Integrated Framework for Trade-Related Technical Assistance to Least Developed Countries 
8.b By 2020, develop and operationalize a global strategy for youth employment and implement the Global Jobs Pact of the International Labour Organization

Goal 9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation

9.1 Develop quality, reliable, sustainable and resilient infrastructure, including regional and transborder infrastructure, to support economic development and human well-being, with a focus on affordable and equitable access for all  
9.2 Promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and, by 2030, significantly raise industry’s share of employment and gross domestic product, in line with national circumstances, and double its share in least developed countries 
9.3 Increase the access of small-scale industrial and other enterprises, in particular in developing countries, to financial services, including affordable credit, and their integration into value chains and markets  
9.4 By 2030, upgrade infrastructure and retrofit industries to make them sustainable, with increased resource-use efficiency and greater adoption of clean and environmentally sound technologies and industrial processes, with all countries taking action in accordance with their respective capabilities  
9.5 Enhance scientific research, upgrade the technological capabilities of industrial sectors in all countries, in particular developing countries, including, by 2030, encouraging innovation and substantially increasing the number of research and development workers per 1 million people and public and private research and development spending 
9.a Facilitate sustainable and resilient infrastructure development in developing countries through enhanced financial, technological and technical support to African countries, least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States 
9.b Support domestic technology development, research and innovation in developing countries, including by ensuring a conducive policy environment for, inter alia, industrial diversification and value addition to commodities  
9.c Significantly increase access to information and communications technology and strive to provide universal and affordable access to the Internet in least developed countries by 2020

Goal 10. Reduce inequality within and among countries

10.1 By 2030, progressively achieve and sustain income growth of the bottom 40 per cent of the population at a rate higher than the national average  
10.2 By 2030, empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status  
10.3 Ensure equal opportunity and reduce inequalities of outcome, including by eliminating discriminatory laws, policies and practices and promoting appropriate legislation, policies and action in this regard  
10.4 Adopt policies, especially fiscal, wage and social protection policies, and progressively achieve greater equality 
10.5 Improve the regulation and monitoring of global financial markets and institutions and strengthen the implementation of such regulations 
10.6 Ensure enhanced representation and voice for developing countries in decision-making in global international economic and financial institutions in order to deliver more effective, credible, accountable and legitimate institutions  
10.7 Facilitate orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people, including through the implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies  
10.a Implement the principle of special and differential treatment for developing countries, in particular least developed countries, in accordance with World Trade Organization agreements  
10.b Encourage official development assistance and financial flows, including foreign direct investment, to States where the need is greatest, in particular least developed countries, African countries, small island developing States and landlocked developing countries, in accordance with their national plans and programmes  
10.c By 2030, reduce to less than 3 per cent the transaction costs of migrant remittances and eliminate remittance corridors with costs higher than 5 per cent

Goal 11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

11.1 By 2030, ensure access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services and upgrade slums  
11.2 By 2030, provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all, improving road safety, notably by expanding public transport, with special attention to the needs of those in vulnerable situations, women, children, persons with disabilities and older persons 
11.3 By 2030, enhance inclusive and sustainable urbanization and capacity for participatory, integrated and sustainable human settlement planning and management in all countries  
11.4 Strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage 
11.5 By 2030, significantly reduce the number of deaths and the number of people affected and substantially decrease the direct economic losses relative to global gross domestic product caused by disasters, including water-related disasters, with a focus on protecting the poor and people in vulnerable situations 
11.6 By 2030, reduce the adverse per capita environmental impact of cities, including by paying special attention to air quality and municipal and other waste management  
11.7 By 2030, provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, in particular for women and children, older persons and persons with disabilities 
11.a Support positive economic, social and environmental links between urban, peri-urban and rural areas by strengthening national and regional development planning  
11.b By 2020, substantially increase the number of cities and human settlements adopting and implementing integrated policies and plans towards inclusion, resource efficiency, mitigation and adaptation to climate change, resilience to disasters, and develop and implement, in line with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, holistic disaster risk management at all levels 
11.c Support least developed countries, including through financial and technical assistance, in building sustainable and resilient buildings utilizing local materials

Goal 12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

12.1 Implement the 10-year framework of programmes on sustainable consumption and production, all countries taking action, with developed countries taking the lead, taking into account the development and capabilities of developing countries  
12.2 By 2030, achieve the sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources  
12.3 By 2030, halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses 
12.4 By 2020, achieve the environmentally sound management of chemicals and all wastes throughout their life cycle, in accordance with agreed international frameworks, and significantly reduce their release to air, water and soil in order to minimize their adverse impacts on human health and the environment 
12.5 By 2030, substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse 
12.6 Encourage companies, especially large and transnational companies, to adopt sustainable practices and to integrate sustainability information into their reporting cycle  
12.7 Promote public procurement practices that are sustainable, in accordance with national policies and priorities  
12.8 By 2030, ensure that people everywhere have the relevant information and awareness for sustainable development and lifestyles in harmony with nature  
12.a Support developing countries to strengthen their scientific and technological capacity to move towards more sustainable patterns of consumption and production 
12.b Develop and implement tools to monitor sustainable development impacts for sustainable tourism that creates jobs and promotes local culture and products  
12.c Rationalize inefficient fossil-fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption by removing market distortions, in accordance with national circumstances, including by restructuring taxation and phasing out those harmful subsidies, where they exist, to reflect their environmental impacts, taking fully into account the specific needs and conditions of developing countries and minimizing the possible adverse impacts on their development in a manner that protects the poor and the affected communities

Goal 13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts*

13.1 Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries  
13.2 Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planning  
13.3 Improve education, awareness-raising and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning 
13.a Implement the commitment undertaken by developed-country parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to a goal of mobilizing jointly $100 billion annually by 2020 from all sources to address the needs of developing countries in the context of meaningful mitigation actions and transparency on implementation and fully operationalize the Green Climate Fund through its capitalization as soon as possible  
13.b Promote mechanisms for raising capacity for effective climate change-related planning and management in least developed countries and small island developing States, including focusing on women, youth and local and marginalized communities 

* Acknowledging that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is the primary international, intergovernmental forum for negotiating the global response to climate change.

Goal 14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development

14.1 By 2025, prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution 
14.2 By 2020, sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts, including by strengthening their resilience, and take action for their restoration in order to achieve healthy and productive oceans 
14.3 Minimize and address the impacts of ocean acidification, including through enhanced scientific cooperation at all levels 
14.4 By 2020, effectively regulate harvesting and end overfishing, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and destructive fishing practices and implement science-based management plans, in order to restore fish stocks in the shortest time feasible, at least to levels that can produce maximum sustainable yield as determined by their biological characteristics 
14.5 By 2020, conserve at least 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas, consistent with national and international law and based on the best available scientific information 
14.6 By 2020, prohibit certain forms of fisheries subsidies which contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, eliminate subsidies that contribute to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and refrain from introducing new such subsidies, recognizing that appropriate and effective special and differential treatment for developing and least developed countries should be an integral part of the World Trade Organization fisheries subsidies negotiation  
14.7 By 2030, increase the economic benefits to Small Island developing States and least developed countries from the sustainable use of marine resources, including through sustainable management of fisheries, aquaculture and tourism 
14.a Increase scientific knowledge, develop research capacity and transfer marine technology, taking into account the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission Criteria and Guidelines on the Transfer of Marine Technology, in order to improve ocean health and to enhance the contribution of marine biodiversity to the development of developing countries, in particular small island developing States and least developed countries 
14.b Provide access for small-scale artisanal fishers to marine resources and markets 
14.c Enhance the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources by implementing international law as reflected in UNCLOS, which provides the legal framework for the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources, as recalled in paragraph 158 of The Future We Want

Goal 15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss

15.1 By 2020, ensure the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of terrestrial and inland freshwater ecosystems and their services, in particular forests, wetlands, mountains and drylands, in line with obligations under international agreements  
15.2 By 2020, promote the implementation of sustainable management of all types of forests, halt deforestation, restore degraded forests and substantially increase afforestation and reforestation globally 
15.3 By 2030, combat desertification, restore degraded land and soil, including land affected by desertification, drought and floods, and strive to achieve a land degradation-neutral world 
15.4 By 2030, ensure the conservation of mountain ecosystems, including their biodiversity, in order to enhance their capacity to provide benefits that are essential for sustainable development 
15.5 Take urgent and significant action to reduce the degradation of natural habitats, halt the loss of biodiversity and, by 2020, protect and prevent the extinction of threatened species  
15.6 Promote fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources and promote appropriate access to such resources, as internationally agreed 
15.7 Take urgent action to end poaching and trafficking of protected species of flora and fauna and address both demand and supply of illegal wildlife products  
15.8 By 2020, introduce measures to prevent the introduction and significantly reduce the impact of invasive alien species on land and water ecosystems and control or eradicate the priority species 
15.9 By 2020, integrate ecosystem and biodiversity values into national and local planning, development processes, poverty reduction strategies and accounts 
15.a Mobilize and significantly increase financial resources from all sources to conserve and sustainably use biodiversity and ecosystems 
15.b Mobilize significant resources from all sources and at all levels to finance sustainable forest management and provide adequate incentives to developing countries to advance such management, including for conservation and reforestation 
15.c Enhance global support for efforts to combat poaching and trafficking of protected species, including by increasing the capacity of local communities to pursue sustainable livelihood opportunities

Goal 16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

16.1 Significantly reduce all forms of violence and related death rates everywhere 
16.2 End abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children  
16.3 Promote the rule of law at the national and international levels and ensure equal access to justice for all 
16.4 By 2030, significantly reduce illicit financial and arms flows, strengthen the recovery and return of stolen assets and combat all forms of organized crime  
16.5 Substantially reduce corruption and bribery in all their forms 
16.6 Develop effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels 
16.7 Ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels  
16.8 Broaden and strengthen the participation of developing countries in the institutions of global governance 
16.9 By 2030, provide legal identity for all, including birth registration 
16.10 Ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements  
16.a Strengthen relevant national institutions, including through international cooperation, for building capacity at all levels, in particular in developing countries, to prevent violence and combat terrorism and crime  
16.b Promote and enforce non-discriminatory laws and policies for sustainable development.

Goal 17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development 


17.1 Strengthen domestic resource mobilization, including through international support to developing countries, to improve domestic capacity for tax and other revenue collection  
17.2 Developed countries to implement fully their official development assistance commitments, including the commitment by many developed countries to achieve the target of 0.7 per cent of ODA/GNI to developing countries and 0.15 to 0.20 per cent of ODA/GNI to least developed countries; ODA providers are encouraged to consider setting a target to provide at least 0.20 per cent of ODA/GNI to least developed countries 
17.3 Mobilize additional financial resources for developing countries from multiple sources 
17.4 Assist developing countries in attaining long-term debt sustainability through coordinated policies aimed at fostering debt financing, debt relief and debt restructuring, as appropriate, and address the external debt of highly indebted poor countries to reduce debt distress 
17.5 Adopt and implement investment promotion regimes for least developed countries 


17.6 Enhance North-South, South-South and triangular regional and international cooperation on and access to science, technology and innovation and enhance knowledge sharing on mutually agreed terms, including through improved coordination among existing mechanisms, in particular at the United Nations level, and through a global technology facilitation mechanism 
17.7 Promote the development, transfer, dissemination and diffusion of environmentally sound technologies to developing countries on favourable terms, including on concessional and preferential terms, as mutually agreed 
17.8 Fully operationalize the technology bank and science, technology and innovation capacity-building mechanism for least developed countries by 2017 and enhance the use of enabling technology, in particular information and communications technology 


17.9 Enhance international support for implementing effective and targeted capacity-building in developing countries to support national plans to implement all the sustainable development goals, including through North-South, South-South and triangular cooperation 


17.10 Promote a universal, rules-based, open, non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system under the World Trade Organization, including through the conclusion of negotiations under its Doha Development Agenda  
17.11 Significantly increase the exports of developing countries, in particular with a view to doubling the least developed countries’ share of global exports by 2020  
17.12 Realize timely implementation of duty-free and quota-free market access on a lasting basis for all least developed countries, consistent with World Trade Organization decisions, including by ensuring that preferential rules of origin applicable to imports from least developed countries are transparent and simple, and contribute to facilitating market access 

Systemic issues 

Policy and institutional coherence 

17.13 Enhance global macroeconomic stability, including through policy coordination and policy coherence 
17.14 Enhance policy coherence for sustainable development 
17.15 Respect each country’s policy space and leadership to establish and implement policies for poverty eradication and sustainable development 

Multi-stakeholder partnerships

17.16 Enhance the global partnership for sustainable development, complemented by multi-stakeholder partnerships that mobilize and share knowledge, expertise, technology and financial resources, to support the achievement of the sustainable development goals in all countries, in particular developing countries  
17.17 Encourage and promote effective public, public-private and civil society partnerships, building on the experience and resourcing strategies of partnerships 

Data, monitoring and accountability 

17.18 By 2020, enhance capacity-building support to developing countries, including for least developed countries and small island developing States, to increase significantly the availability of high-quality, timely and reliable data disaggregated by income, gender, age, race, ethnicity, migratory status, disability, geographic location and other characteristics relevant in national contexts 
17.19 By 2030, build on existing initiatives to develop measurements of progress on sustainable development that complement gross domestic product, and support statistical capacity-building in developing countries

Note: Nearly all the content has been taken from the UN website 

By: Fozia Parveen

Who do you want your child to be…

Written By: Rabia Nazir

One of my close friends who is a primary school teacher often shares innocent stories of her students as a part of our ‘how was the day?’ routine. A couple of weeks ago, she mentioned that one of the most intelligent students in her class has been missing school for a week and that he is suffering from anxiety and panic attacks! Yes, you read it right…. When parents looked for a reason, it did not take long and it was alarming. The 8 year old boy reluctantly revealed his fear of not stand first in the class this term and the poor soul was stressed over that he would not be able to fulfill his parents’ dream of becoming a doctor.

This is one of those overlooked incidences that are affecting the mental health of school going children. The pressure to be the best student in the class and to meet the expectations of parents is particularly seen in the smarter ones. We can see schools of every bread including government school, public schools, elite schools, and then deeni-dunyawi taleem hybrid schools. Keeping the financial toll aside, it is still quite a challenge for parents to choose which type of school they should send their kids to. And thanks to the craze of becoming doctor/engineer, young minds are being stuffed with the idea that success in life is associated with taking up a certain profession. In today’s blog, I want to probe what are the factors behind choosing a profession for your child;

Influential Standing in the Society:

So almost every Pakistani parent dreams that his child becomes a doctor. In fact, doctor here does not represent a profession but rather a symbolic professional who is intellectually superior, influential, and highly regarded by the society. So taking the above definition a little further we can include engineers, lawyers, financial analysts, and so on. The thing to which most of the parent are acting blind is that every child has his own talents and mind capacity. All they care about is getting appraisals from their social circle by presenting a ‘trophy child’.

Forcing them to study a subject against their free-will in which they are not interested may make them unsatisfied with their lives. I can recollect from childhood memories that many of my friends in school were eager to become a doctor but later could not get into the medical college and ended up becoming a house wives. I do not oppose here becoming a house wife if it is a choice but what I mean is that they lost their motivation so badly that they totally gave up their aspirations for a career.

Financial Incentives:

This factor is considered more important for boys as they are supposed to take up major financial responsibilities. Having earned a degree in engineering, information technology, or accountancy degree implies getting handsome salaries in homeland as well as landing a job in a developed foreign country. This opens up the ventures for making more money and securing a lavish life style. This is the point where most of the personal aspirations and dreams lose the battle.

Finding the perfect match:

Doctor marrying another doctor is no wonder and it is almost true in all of the professions in question. This factor is more important for girls. According to the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) record, 70% of the medical students are females whereas only 23% of registered doctors are females. It adds a considerable financial loss on the part of government funds spent on the subsidized medical education on each student and you can well imagine the number if more 50% of the current medical students choose to sit at home for the rest of their lives. It paints a disappointing picture that a medical degree for many girls is no more than winning a ‘hot ticket’ in match-making market. The dream of ‘doctor daughter-in-law’ has become an obsession among mothers looking for a decent wife for their sons. I will touch this topic in detail in a separate blog.

As matters of fact, it all comes down to our fragile society with its roots knitted in an unhealthy competition in every walk of life. The very similar pressure is trickling down to shape up such a mind-set in young parents where they essentially want their kids to be the best. It not only puts a delicate mind into stress but the child is also more likely to feel isolated and lonely as he feels the competition all the time with other children in the school and even within the family. He might end up having no friends! This discussion brings me to some questions which I would like to put out there for the parents:

  1. Why every child is expected to be the best in studies, sports, and extra-curricular. It is absolutely perfect to inspire and let them thrive to achieve the better and better in life but why standing first in exam or getting into a certain profession is a matter of life and death? We must realize that experiencing failures offer more lessons than successes. It is normal to fail sometimes; coping up with a failure is a learning too.
  • What could be the consequences if you as a parent just let your child choose who he wants to be? Let’s say if he wants to be an artist or a historian or a football player or any unconventional profession, what is wrong with it? In my sanity, career must be chosen, if not fully at least partially, out of personal interests and not from what everyone else expects of your child.

I would leave the stage open with a plea to young parents who have school going kids that please do not burden your children with unrealistic expectations. Schools are not factories to produce future professionals only and you, as a parent, are not here to turn your child into ‘trophy’. Let your child be a happy, healthy, and free soul who could be a valuable addition to the society and humanity.

We really need to evaluate our own values!

(P.S: The content is meant to provoke a positive discussion. Apologies in advance if anyone finds it offensive. I personally do have many doctor friends, both male and female, and they are amazing people one could have in life. )

Proposal from HE, who must not be Remembered

Sending a marriage proposal in Pakistan is like playing darts at home elsewhere.

  1. Give it a go, if it works very well, after all it was meant to be…
  2. If it doesn’t work, God forbid!! how could she ever say NO!!! (that characterless *************** -put as many stars as you can imagine-)

As one of my cousins had once asked me, “what is wrong with our boy?”. Now, why must I look for a fault in your boy to say no. I want to say no and it is my right to say no (FULL STOP). Who gives so many people the licence to ask me why I said no? especially when our beloved religion gives women the right to marry as well as other marital rights (see previous articles in the blog about marriage, dowry and divorce). But very often in such cases culture card is played to endorse oppression of baby girls. 

Funnily enough, when a women wants to say yes to a proposal, no further discussion is allowed on the topic. On the other hand when she wants to say no, the whole family sits her down and schools her on how amazing the boy and the family is and what benefits the matrimony could bring for Indo-Pak relationship (quite literally!).

I wish I could write more about the art, science and philosophy of marriage proposals in Pakistan but this post is not meant for that. It is actually based on a true story, where a boy, who had harassed a little girl at a very young age, decades later sent her a proposal and was very cross at getting ‘NO’ for an answer. I hope that this can shake people to be mindful about staying away from silly and irresponsible behaviour at a younger age and being mature enough when they ask for a girls hand later in their lives.

I am not saying that men don’t have problems when it comes to relationships and proposals, but the scale at which young girls and women suffer in this regard is incomparable to those of our fellow brethren, so I am really sorry that I will completely ignore your problems in this case.

The story is as under

‘Once upon a time there was a young girl in a place that allowed her to be wild and free. Despite many a lectures from her mother on why she should not go to her friends place and why she must be accompanied with an elder when leaving home, she did what she liked, which was to play outside with the kids from her street and come back home hours later. One day she was walking in the street alone and she encountered her cousin who was only a year or two older than hers. He took advantage of the opportunity and touched her every now and then while walking with her. Her mouth dried up. No one had told her what to do, if she ever encountered a situation like this. She wanted to shout but couldn’t so she ended up dodging him, running away until she got to her door.  The touching did not stop in the mean time. She went in, without making any noise and raised no further discussion on the topic. That boy and his face meant nothing to her. He deserved no emotion from her. Hate seemed too honourable for a little boy of his sort. That young cousin was dead, right there and right then for her. 

Decades later, her mother called her to tell her that she has a proposal. when she took his name, her ears deafened for a while. Seconds later, she asked her mother to say no as soon as possible without any further explanation. Fortunately, her parents weren’t too keen on the boy either so she got away with this one. The boy and his mother were cross about this (ofcourse). She has forgotten her place and how dare she say no to one of the finest boys in the family. 

She hadn’t forgotten her place. In reality He had forgotten his. How dare he send that proposal? did his mouth not burn with wildest of fire when he took her holy name with his filthy mouth? does he even remember what he had done to this girl or has he become holy and pious himself?

The biggest question,

Are women too emotional and worry too much about molestation and harassment while the accused man forgets it soon after committing it?

and, why must women forget such monsters? is there room for forgiveness in this case?

This doesn’t end here. This is a never ending problem of our society and we don’t really discuss it in organisations or at homes. Changing mindsets has become a must for our society and we have observed that education alone is not enough to change mindsets as the region that this lady is from claims to have highest literacy rate and an open mindset and so on…

P.s. I cried while writing this and I hope that it touches your hearts the way it has touched mine. 

P.P.s. Momma dears..Please Raise careful daughters and respectful sons!

Fair, Lovely and Politically Incorrect

By: Fozia Tahir

Having lived in the UK for five years I had almost forgotten the importance of fair skin in Pakistan. I recently attended a musical event in my hometown in the north of Pakistan where majority of the population has lighter skin tone. The Host who of course happened to be from the south said, ‘the crowd was full of goray chittay people literally meaning, ‘fair skinned (beautiful) people’. The crowd is so used to such comments that no eyebrows were raised and no offence was taken. In the west however, the same host would have had to apologise soon after giving such a statement.

Why did no one question it?

Why were those who are not as fair skinned as most not offended?

Where exactly does this mind-set come from?

and why must we make peace with it?

We have been blaming colonialism and American influence on Pakistan for so many things but perhaps our mind-set is our own problem. Many politically incorrect things, including the obsession with fair skin, seems to have percolated deep down our thought process. I will not quote many research articles and figures here today but blame our media industry and the people involved in it for continuously reinforcing all the false ideas and poor mind-set that we have long fallen prey to.

Those who know Pakistan well would also know that television is the biggest form of entertainment for majority of the population residing in the urban as well as rural areas of Pakistan. People love to spend their afternoons and evenings in front of their TV. I wanted to see what was going on, on TV in terms of obsession with fair skin. I realised soon after that almost all the skin care products sell the very concept of getting lighter skin tone. Such as, 

Urdu: Hum larkiyon ka face fresh hona chahiye

Translation: Us, girls should have a fresh face

You shouldn’t second guess the name of the product. It is indeed called face fresh

Fair and lovely has long used women with dark skin tone as their models and shown their skin tone improve with the use of their product over time as an example.  This is 21st century and I think it’s about time that fair and lovely changes the name for the new lines it is creating.

What’s funnier is that some of these creams don’t display the products that they contain. E.g. I looked at the packaging of a famous whitening cream called gypsy amazing cream that only said at the front that it contains jojoba oil but no further ingredients were given at the back. It is obvious that the products contain bleach and few major ingredients should be placed at the back of the packing. Its not really my problem as I wouldn’t use the product unless I am conducting some kind of research experiment on the product but those who use it deserve to know what must the mystery magic box contain.  

Fair is not good and kaala (dark skin) is not bad and we need to break such stereotypes especially popular products like Fair and lovely whose consumers seem unaffected by such form of political incorrectness.  

The root of all our problems could be lack of education but many formally educated people also believe in the importance of fair skin. In fact, in Pakistan, fair skin is a requirement in the proposal checklist for a girl from the male side.

Women invest more time and money on their physical appearances and almost no time on personality growth..

Solution: Change aka Tabdeeli?

Change is coming. The newer generation is ready to fight all the stereotypes but we are still shackled by many concepts the like of fair is beautiful.

we have a long long long way to go until we speak about issues like pay gap and equal pay for equal work etc nevertheless we should not give up on our fights to break stereotypes.

Good Luck to us for that…







Image link:

Violence against women and girls


An eighteen-year-old woman chronically raped by her father, brother and uncles since she was eight.
A nineteen-year-old girl having chronic pelvic and genital pain secondary to genital mutilation.
A twelve-year-old female child being sold and married off to a forty two year old man in her village.
A twenty-eight-year old woman physically beaten by her husband regularly when he is intoxicated.
A forty–ear old woman who was kidnapped and sold to her former husband when she was nineteen.

These are just examples of women and female children whom I have come into contact with through my clinical practice, outreach work and in my social life. I have found these women in the emergency rooms, in psychiatric facilities, in the genitourinary medicine & contraception clinics. I have found these women not only as a doctor in the corridors of hospitals – I have found these women in the lanes of my life.

All of these women, as you may have guessed by now, have been subject to violence. Violence against women takes place in several forms – physical violence by intimate partners, sexual harassment, sexual violence, female genital mutilation, trafficking, child marriages etc.

Although there is an increased awareness of the violence suffered by women and female children, we still live in a society where violence is horrifically rampant. We live in a world where a third of the countries have NOT outlawed domestic violence. We live in a world where 1 in 7 girls are married in Central and West Africa before they are 15 years of age. We live in a world where 1 in 2 women were killed by their partners and/or families in 2012. We live in a country where up to a third of adolescent women describe their first sexual experience as rape/sexual abuse. We live in a world where thirty-seven countries exempt rape perpetrators from prosecution if they are married or marry the victim after the event1.

The purpose of this article is to educate and discuss the nature of violence experienced by women, to understand the extent of the problem, and finally, what to expect from our health professionals and our governments.

The vast majority of the statistics and information is taken from the World Health Organisation and the United Nations websites, which I implore you to read. All of the factual information, which is present in this article, from the aforementioned institutions is listed at the end.

Background and definitions

Violence against women is a global public health problem and a violation of human rights. The United Nations defines violence against women as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual, or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life2 .

A 2013 analysis conduct by WHO with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the South Africa Medical Research Council, used existing data from over 80 countries and found that worldwide, 1 in 3 women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner or non-partner sexual violence3.

Risk factors4

The risk factors for women experiencing intimate partner violence include low education, exposure to mothers being abused, abuse during childhood, attitudes accepting violence, male privilege and women’s subordinate status.

Equally, men are more likely to perpetrate violence if they have low education, a history of child maltreatments, exposure to domestic violence against their mothers, alcohol dependence, unequal gender norms, attitudes accepting violence and privilege over women.

Factors associated with sexual violence perpetration include beliefs in family honour, sexual purity, ideologies of male sexual entitlement and weak legal sanctions for sexual violence.

Impacts on health, children and socioeconomics

Physical and sexual violence against women has led to physical, mental, reproductive and sexual health issues of victims. Some of these include unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections and other gynaecological problems. Specifically, in pregnancies, the risks include miscarriage, pre-term labour and the babies being at significant risks related to low birth weight.

Women exposed to partner violence as twice as likely to experience depression; almost twice as likely to have alcohol use disorders; 1.5 times more likely to acquire HIV, syphilis, chlamydia or gonorrhoea and 16% more likely to have a low birth weight baby. Furthermore, 42% of women who have experienced physical/sexual violence at the hands of a partner have experienced further injuries as a result and 38% of all murders of women, globally, were committed by their intimate partners1,3.

Children who witness such violence can display behavioural and emotional disturbances as well as being at risk of being perpetrators of violence themselves. Intimate partner violence has also been linked with higher rates of infant and child morbidity and mortality3.

The social and economic costs include women being at risk of suffering isolation, not being able to work, losing wages, not participating in regular activities and being unable to care for their children.

Prevention and response5

There are a number of guidelines as to how health professionals can train, prepare and respond for issues in violence against women. These include:

  1. Providing women centred care – professionals offering first-line support when violence is disclosed i.e. empathy, non-judgemental attitude, privacy, confidentiality and access to relevant services.
  2. Identifying and caring for survivors of intimate partner violence – Professionals should ask about exposure to violence with the aim to improve diagnosis, identification and subsequent care. First line clinical care should include emergency contraception, STI and HIV with relevant follow up.
  3. Mandatory reporting of intimate partner violence to the police is NOT recommended. Professionals should offer support to report the incident if the woman chooses. It is important to know the legal framework of reporting in each state/country. Usually if an incident is to be reported, the professionals should NOT carry out an intimate examination.
  4. Training of healthcare providers – Adequate history taking, risk management, investigations and planning management should be done at a pre-qualification level.
  5. Healthcare policy and provision – Care for women experience violence and sexual assault should be, where possible, integrated into existing health services as opposed to a stand alone service. In the UK, this can include presenting to a General Practice, GUM services and if required, A&E.

Prevention is a powerful tool and evidence base from high-income countries has suggested that advocacy and counselling improve access to services for victims and are effective in reducing violence. In low resource countries, prevention strategies that have shown some effectivity include programs that empower women economically and socially through a combination of microfinance and skills training related to gender equality; that promote communication and relationship skills within couples and communities; transform harmful gender and social norms through education6.

Legislation is another key aspect, which can help achieve change. There is a need to implement policies that promote gender equality by ending discrimination against women in marriage, divorce and custody laws; ending discrimination in inheritance laws; improving women’s access to employment and developing national policies to address violence against women5,6.

References and further reading

1. United Nations. Declaration on the elimination of violence against women. New York : UN, 1993.

2. United Nations. Fact and figures: Ending violence against women.

3. World Health Organisation. Global and regional estimates of violence against women. Prevalence and health effects of intimate partner violence and non-partner sexual violence.

4. World Health Organisation. Violence against women and children: facts.

5. World Health Organisation. Primary prevention of intimate-partner violence and sexual violence: Background paper for WHO expert meeting May 2–3, 2007
6. World Health Organisation. Infographics: Violence against women infographic.

Written by: Dr Huma R Khan


Mental health, society and stigma.

Author: Huma R Khan

The extent of the issue

The premise of this article is to discuss mental health, common mental health issues, the issues of stigma and to signpost to some important resources and organisations.

Mental health problems are a significant contributor to the overall disease burden worldwide, with major depression being the second leading cause.

  1. 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness in a given year.
  2. Mental health and behaviour illnesses are estimated to cause over 40 million years of disability in 20-29 year olds.
  3. In Britain alone, between 2003 and 2013, 18,220 people with mental health problems committed suicide.
  4. 1 in 15 has made a suicide attempt in their life.
  5. 75% of young people with a mental health treatment are NOT receiving treatment.
  6. The average wait for effective treatment is 10 years1-3.

The World Health Organisation definition of health is “a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Mental health in this regard refers to our psychological and emotional wellbeing.

There are a number of mental health problems and they are multifaceted in their aetiology. For example, they can be caused by a combination of biological factors (e.g. genes, brain chemistry), life experiences (e.g. trauma, abuse) and/or family history of mental health problems4 .

Physical and mental health are also not two separate entities as poor physical health increases your risk of developing mental health problems. Individuals with mental health problems have shown worse trends in morbidity and mortality.

Mental health problems can include depression, schizophrenia, post traumatic stress, learning and eating disorders as well as substance misuse and addiction. The discussion of these is beyond the remit of this article, and as such, we shall focus on the stigmatisation of people with mental health problems.

Society and Stigma

Despite the vast numbers of people affected by mental health problems, there is a huge social stigma and discrimination that is experienced. This stigma crosses barriers of countries, cultures and various creeds. Nearly nine out of ten people with mental health problems face discrimination and statistically we know that these groups face issues with finding work, being in a steady relationship, having adequate housing and being socially included in mainstream society2.

Mental health stigma can be divided into two types;

  1. social stigma – prejudiced attitudes and discrimination directed towards those with a mental health problem
  2. self stigma – the internalisation by the mental health sufferer of their perceptions of discrimination, leading to feelings of shame and guilt5 .

Stigma has three important aspects to it; stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination6 .

Strategies for changing public stigma

Broadly speaking, three approaches have been proposed to deal with social stigma; protest, education and contact7.

  1. Protest includes challenging the inaccurate and hostile depictions of mental health, which can be found in media and public opinion.
  2. Education is the provision of information to individuals and groups in order to maximise their understanding and lessen negative stereotypes. A number of studies have shown that educational strategies have led to improved attitudes and education in the likelihood of discriminating8 .
  3. Contact includes people with mental health disorders meeting those without, especially in the context of a social environment e.g. work. Research has shown that such contact events have led to decreased endorsement of psychiatric stigma.

What can YOU do?

Educate yourself!

Mental health issues are extremely common and unfortunately, so is the prejudice and discrimination against the people who are affected. The first step is always to educate yourself, and then to educate others. Knowledge is a powerful tool, which can not only help break down stigma, but also helps empower groups of people to come forward and seek the help they need, without the fear of perceptions. Below are some useful resources, which provide with statistics, have educational material and signpost to relevant groups for professionals, patients and the general public.


  1. Time to change.
    Social movement working to raise awareness of and ending stigma associated with mental health.
  2. Mind
    Mental health charity in England, which is working to provide information and advice to those with mental health problems.
  3. Mental Health Foundation
    Improving lives of those with mental health problems and/or learning difficulties.
  4. The centre for mental health
    Organisation working to improve quality of life for those with mental health problems. A wealth of information and support links.
  5. Depression Alliance
    Information and support to those affected by depression.
  6. Relate
    Offering advice, relationship counselling, workshops and meditation.
  7. Anxiety UK
    Charity supporting those living with anxiety disorders including information provision, support and 1:1 therapy.


  1. Time to change. About mental health.
  2. Mental Health Foundation. Mental health statistics:
  3. Centre for Mental Health, UK.
  4. World Health Organisation. Constitution of the World Health Organisation as adopted by the International Health Conference, New York, 19-22 June 1946.
  5. Corrigan PW. Understanding the impact of stigma on people with mental illness. World Psychiatry. 2002 Feb 1(1): 16-20.
  6. Corrigan PW. Mental health stigma as social attribution: implications for research methods and attitude change. Clin Psychol Sci Pract.2000;7:48–67.
  7. Allport GW. The nature of prejudice. New York: Doubleday Anchor Books
  8. Roman PM., Jr Floyd HH., Jr Social acceptance of psychiatric illness and psychiatric treatment. Soc Psychiatry.1981;16:16–21.
  9. Corrigan PW. River LP. Lundin RK, et al. Three strategies for changing attributions about severe mental illness.Schizophr Bull.2001;27:187–195



Polygyny – Provision or Privilege

Written By: Rabia Nazir

The fast-pacing world is not only shaping thinking patterns of masses; the relationship forms and choices are also moving from ‘traditional’ to ‘tailored’. Non-believing researchers often question that why a religion like Islam which strongly supports the rights of women accepts ‘polygamy’. Islam allows ‘polygyny’ to be more specific; implying that a man can have multiple spouses. A woman is not allowed to have more than one husband at a given time; logical enough because of the impossibility of the identification of off-springs born to the mother with many husbands.

Historian would agree with me on this that ‘polygyny’ was not something introduced by Islam. It had been present in various shapes among different cultures and religions from pre-Islamic times. Such polygynic relationships were driven by numerous motives including passion, power, and pleasure etc. There was also not any limit on the number of partners (including either legitimate or illegitimate) a man can have1, 2.

Yes, polygyny is allowed in Islam but only under ‘special circumstances’. Our beloved Prophet (Peace be upon him) had at least 13 wives according to testified sources. We should also appreciate here that Prophet (peace be upon him) remained married to Hazrat Khadeeja (may Allah be pleased with her) only from the age of 25 to 50 years during the time of his prime youth whereas there was a culture of polygyny among Arabs in the society at that time. Anyone who has read Quran and life of Prophet (peace be upon him) closely and thoroughly knows that the purpose of these marriages was either strategic (to establish family ties with close companions particularly newly converted tribes) or social (looking after the widows/divorcees) 3, 4. Islam allows polygyny as a provision to accommodate the women who have no family members to support them and are not in position to support them otherwise. The conditional nature of polygyny in Islam can be clearly understood from the following verse of Surah Al-Nisa:

‘Marry woman of your choice in twos’ threes’ or fours’ but if ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly, (with them), then only one’ [4:3]

If a man decides to have more than one wife for a good reason; he should be able to do justice among the wives in terms of financial support, time, and attention. Understanding the human nature, it has already been said in Glorious Quran:

 ‘It is very difficult to be just and fair between women’. [4:129]

Polygyny has been misunderstood by majority of people in our society in a way that it looks like a privilege given to men for enjoying relationships with many spouses. Islamic polygyny is never about satisfying lust or sexual needs. In case of polygyny, all wives are given equal status and there shouldn’t be a ‘favourite wife’ or ‘sweet-heart’. For this reason, the Messenger of God asked God’s pardon for any unintentional leanings. He would make this prayer:

‘‘I may have unintentionally shown more love to one of them than the others and this would have been injustice. So, O Lord, I take refuge in Your grace for those things which are beyond my power.’’5

I have seen ‘forced marriages’ as the most common motive for ‘a second marriage’. We all come across cases in newspapers and on television where people in forced marriages later become involved in cheating, leaving parents/families/children, and even murders sometimes. In many cases, second marriage is done secretly without the permission or the knowledge of the first wife. What we forget that our beloved Prophet (peace be upon him) has greatly emphasized that the ‘wedding contract/Nikah’ should be performed and announced publicly. Therefore, a ‘secret second marriage’ is a false practice on the account of polygyny6. I believe that these things would happen to a lesser extent if parents should consider and accept their children’s choice of life-partner regardless of sect, cast, and social status.

Some people also decide to marry second time if they remain childless from first marriage or for the desire of having a son. I’m not an Islamic scholar to comment on this that if it is justified or not. However, the thing which worries me is that our Pakistani dramas are still preaching these ideas to viewers that it is women’s choice/fault that she could not bear a male child. I can’t digest that how on earth is it possible that a woman can decide if she wants to bear a girl or a boy…………

I deeply regret when I see people justifying their unreasonable choices in the name of Islam without bothering to understand the philosophy behind the provision of polygyny. OK! I do understand that you want to do some social work by marrying some women out there but then why not marry widows/divorcees with children, or the orphans, or the needy with no family, or an averaged looking poor girl, or someone disabled by a road accident? Why is it taken as a privilege token to marry only younger and good-looking girls? I ll leave you to think about it!


  1. George Elliott Howard, ‘The Project Gutenberg E-Book of A History of Matrimonial Institutions’, [2015].
  2. George Monger, ‘Marriage customs of the world: from henna to honeymoons’, [2004].
  3. Sayyid Ali Ashgar Razwy, ‘Khadijatul Kubra, A Short Story of Her Life

  1. Rachel Jones, ‘Polygyny in Islam’, Macalester Islam Journal, [2006].
  2. Tirmidhi, ‘Nikah’, 41.
  3. Mohammad Fadel, ‘Islamic marriage, temporary marriage, secret marriage and polygamous marriage