Announcement of the new admission policy by Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC), regarding 50, 50 division of total medical seats on a gender basis, has once again corroborated its feeble capability to design a plausible solution for a rather serious issue.
The division apparently seems innocuous, but if one analyzes the in-depth grounds, it is just another step backwards.
Now label me with a title of feminist, but I’ll call a spade a spade because this new policy definitely discriminates against females seeking admission in medical schools.
Being a part of this field, I’m aware of statistics pertaining majority medical students as women, which entails most of them giving up the profession eventually in order to set up a family life and I vehemently agree that this issue needs to be addressed but not, and I repeat, not at the expense of injustice and oppression.
PMDC could have come up with better solutions keeping merit intact, without dragging gender into it. Setting up a debate over it, one can discuss plenty of possibilities leading to females signing up for medicine, but not perusing a postgraduate degree or practicing medicine at all.
Some are forced to give up their goals due to our culture infested by a tragic surfeit of patriarchy while others are victimized by the annoying trend of every mother seeking a lady doctor for her son, only to make a gol roti for him after marriage and even if females are allowed to practice, their work hours are often distracted by family concerns leading to abysmal lag in professional life.
Flipping to the other side of the coin, higher number of females choose pre-medical in intermediate due to certain reasons, including lack of male dominance unlike commerce and computer sciences fields, parental pressure and a secure future in the marital arena which is utterly disappointing.
So summing up, situation puts females into a weaker position in comparison to their male colleagues who are primarily responsible for feeding their families and maintaining a job for that purpose but solution does not lie in formulating a procedure skewed towards favoring other gender.
Another reason of the majority, according to rough stats 70%, students securing admission in medical schools across the country being females is their higher grades making them come up to the top merit, but resulting in wastage of a medical seat with no return to government for resources used in training the student.
Therefore, PMDC has fixed 50% seats for women to stop large number of them pouring in. Seriously, do we need another policy in our county which seems to advocate oppression against women? We are already suffering enough from obnoxious lack of gender equality in our society so whatever the consequences of the situation at hand may be, advantage cannot be given to male students with less marks just because they are responsible for being breadwinners and their gender roles are favorable to their profession.
Certainly if they want to dominate medicine, rational way is to beat females on merit with their dedication instead of trampling them but sadly, the new proposal doesn’t ensure this. It is targeting the symptoms of the disease instead of the disease itself as logically, by controlling admission process, these policymakers can never ensure the meritorious women they exclude exactly be the ones who wouldn’t be practicing and less qualified men they assist to enter wouldn’t be leaving the country after graduation.
Moreover, this quota system will lead to another serious issue regarding shortage of lady doctors in hospitals, affecting female patients. Therefore, all we need is to strive for altering societal patterns to stop the gross negligence shown by women towards medicine, encouraging more men to adopt pre-medical and making it mandatory for both male and female students, who give in to the medical field, to practice in Pakistan for a certain amount of time after completion of the degree.
By implementing such restrictions, and ensuring their effectiveness strictly, not only a flippant attitude towards medicine can be curtailed, but traditional patriarchy and convention of educational credentials used as a mere status symbol, can also be reduced. Furthermore, a slow paradigm shift in culture, ensuring equality, and availability of sufficient lady doctors in the country, would be a cherry on the top.
So in a nutshell, authorities should dismiss this lazy and superficial move to redress the gender gap, and women should come out of their comfort zones, acknowledging their responsibilities to meet country’s dire need for lady health experts instead of throwing their degrees away in dark nooks after finding a rich husband.
We live in the 21st century and it is time to leave sick orthodoxies behind by accepting that women can and should contribute towards a new, progressive Pakistan!