Women’s inclusion in the economy

Published: March 28, 2019

KARACHI: The World Bank and the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) collaborated on an initiative Pakistan@100. The project’s report was published in local dailies. The goal of the project was to show where the country will stand at its centennial anniversary.

The report shows that Pakistan has the highest Gender Wage Gap in the world and the lowest ranking regarding women’s participation in public and private sectors. This lack of participation results in a number of demographic and economic constraints that Pakistan faces, and explains why the country is unable to achieve its targets. The initiative has even proposed remedies to increase women’s participation.

According to the report, only 48% of all the Pakistani women have attended school and only 10 per cent of women have received post-secondary education. The phenomenon of early marriages further becomes a hurdle for women to enter the workplace. To change this, the government must invest in transforming behaviours of parents and society regarding the practice of early marriages, and increase access to education and reproductive health services.

The report also highlights the lack of participation of men in unpaid care work. This means that Pakistani women are ten times more involved in household chores, child and elderly care than their male counterparts. This causes women to spend less time in gaining skills and getting jobs, making them financially insecure.

The study talks about more working women feeling threatened in public spaces and more likely to be harassed than women who do not work. The report suggests the government should effectively implement laws against sexual harassment and should conduct awareness regarding the topic in order to create safer public spaces.

Lastly, the government should create an enabling environment for women-owned businesses. Globally, women-owned businesses tend to hire more women than men. The study concludes that Pakistan has only one per cent of women entrepreneurs because of limited access to finance and the market. The state should adopt laws to improve women’s access to finance in order to encourage women in the workforce without any fears and obstacles. This is the only way Pakistan’s economy will thrive and be able to meet its development goals by 2047.

Aleem Quraishi

Published in The Express Tribune, March 28th, 2019.

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