Apr 21, 2017 at 12:00am ET By Joanna Hughes

Countries around the world are prioritizing gender equality in higher education. The latest to take steps toward diversity? Pakistan. Last month, Minister of State for Federal Education and Professional Training Baligh Ur Rehman informed the National Assembly of the government’s intent to establish women’s universities in each district, according to a recent report from the Pakistan Observer. Here’s a closer look at the plans. 

Increasing Access for All

There are currently 14 women’s universities in Pakistan. According to the minister, the Higher Education Commission has formulated a comprehensive plan aimed at bringing women’s universities to every district either in the form of new, independent universities or affiliated campuses with affiliated universities.

According to the Pakistan Observer, the movement to establish more women universities was widely supported by members of the National Assembly, who expressed concerns about the cultural roadblocks women in Pakistan face when studying in the co-education system.

Minister Baligh further revealed that land had already been provided for expansion in Bahawalpur, with additional funds allocated for establishing campuses in Pashin, Noshki and Khuzdar. 

Investing in Education

Minister Baligh also told the National Assembly that the government had increased funding for education from PKR500 billion (US$4.8 billion) in 2012-13 to PKR800 billion (US$7.6 billion) in 2016. He explained,  “In this way the overall allocation for education has been enhanced to around 2.5% of the GDP [gross domestic product] as compared to 1.9% in 2012-13.”

Additionally, the government’s investment in research has also reached an all-time high in the hopes of boosting industry and the private sector.

Also a higher education priority for Pakistan toward its Sustainable Development Goals? Reversing unemployment and illiteracy by offering increased incentives designed to encourage more of the country’s poorer families to send their children to school. 



Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.

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