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Gender Stereotypes and the Role of the SNC

The idea of the Single National Curriculum was put forward by the PTI government in 2021. The current SNC covers curriculum guidelines for grade 1, grade 2, grade 3, grade 4 and grade 5. The subjects it covers include all compulsory subjects such as English, Urdu, History, Science etc. The books that are following the Single National Curriculum have been criticized for promoting regressive and orthodox roles for women, both in syllabus and graphic illustrations. The following picture shows how the book for grade 5 illustrates “the ideal daily routine for women to follow”.

It details how a woman should wake up at 5:00 AM to pray the Fajr namaz, then she should make breakfast for her husband and children, then clean the kitchen, followed by ironing the clothes and then immediately start cooking food again at 10:00 AM. The rest of the day goes by similarly; occupied by cooking, cleaning and taking care of the whole family. This type of content is blatantly enforcing gender stereotypes and trying to categorize females into performing certain kind of roles and duties. It provides no room for women to venture outside these gender binaries and there are no examples of the SNC syllabus promoting women as strong and independent individuals.

Another image from the SNC syllabus that has created controversy is this following image:

It shows a family of four people, which includes a father, a mother, a son and a daughter. It shows that son is in the lap of his father reading an English book, while both are on a sofa, whereas the mother and her daughter are sitting on the floor. The objectionable factor is that both the females are on the floor which is not a coincidence. It has been argued that “This is just the way the book was designed, it does not mean anything”. However, you have to be very careful when you’re exposing young impressionable minds to any type of content. It is the responsibility of the lawmakers to ensure that the syllabus they are approving does not contain prejudiced material of any kind. When this image is seen over and over again, it will instill this deep-rooted belief that women are inferior and beliefs like those are what keep perpetuating a patriarchal society.

This is also in stark contrast to Pakistan’s aim to reach the sustainable development goals by 2030, through a unanimous National Assembly Resolution in 2016. One of the goals is gender equality and another one is quality education. If the government wants to reach these goals, there needs to be a serious re-evaluation of the content and syllabus of the SNC to make sure there are no biases against women and that they are being empowered instead of being restricted.

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Maha Waheed
Maha Waheed
Dec 10, 2022

The state intends to instil in students' minds an implicit conviction in a male-dominated, gender-biased status quo anchored in religious conservatism. Men's and women's gender roles have been repeatedly stressed and reiterated. The gender stereotype "good girl" is used frequently in the text, and examples are shown in the images. A lovely girl follows instructions, is calm and submissive, and does well in all her tasks. A wicked girl is an opposite: she is outspoken, forceful, and loyal to herself and doesn't blindly accept commands. In a patriarchal society, the former is acceptable and socially respected. Because that is what good ladies do and what friendly males are, good girls can endure bad boys. Good males are meant to be…


exactly! this blog points out the blatant misogyny and discrimination against a gender in what is supposed to be a nationwide curriculum very clearly. the pakistani society is already very complicated and an unsafe space for women to live. the ideologies deeply embedded in the brains of the people do nto allow women to express themselves. women have always been associated with unpaid household labour and are expected to do so even if they start working and earning.

and as mentioned in this blog, for pakistan to meet its SDGs, efforts should be made to lower the gender disparity and promotion of quality education. but, unfortunately, such attitude of the state just shows its disinterest to actually do something about…


Undoubtedly, the SNC's hidden emphasis on gender stereotypes strengthens our society's patriarchal power structures. According to the text above, it is somewhat depressing to admit that our political leaders and educational reformers have fallen short in encouraging the kids' innovative, unbiased, and creative learning skills. The segregation of the male and female characters in the textbook emphasises the promotion of the concept of gender, defining distinct roles for boys and girls, designating boys as strong, independent, and dominant, and reinforcing uneven gender values among young children.

The textbook misconception is related to the discussion in class about gender and sex, where Butler asserts that gender trumps sex. In this instance, the hierarchy and biassed portrayal of women are reinforced by…


You highlighted how the gender roles are define for women in these books. Children can be easily influenced by imagery and their schooling also play an important part in developing their thinking process. Since children spend 5 days a week in school, reading these routines over and over again will automatically tell the girls that they are supposed to act in a certain manner. Similarly, it also reminds the male students that there is a particular way that girls are supposed to behave and if they do not do so, then they will correct them. Schools are supposed to allow children to think freely but teaching such routines only restricts them further. The image of the routine girls that are…


This is serious gender inequalities and human rights violations against women in the Pakistani society. And the fact is that the state is promoting itself. The unequal gender roles were perceived as static and enforced by structures imbedded in society. gender inequality manifests itself differently according to culture, politics, religion and economic situation, and is further strongly linked to violence against women. The aim was therefore to explore current gender roles, how these are reproduced and maintained and influence women's life circumstances. Pakistan is a patriarchal society where men are the primary authority figures and women are subordinate. This has serious implications on women's and men's life prospects. Your first picture shows how the women's life are being ordering in…

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