In the contemporary world women participation in every aspect of work is phenomenal despite facing hindrances in the society. Women constitute half of the Pakistan’s 207 million population [2017 population census] and women’s contribution has been remarkable in every facet of life however their vitality and potential has never been fully realized in the past 70 years after independence.
There is a close relationship between economic development and women’s empowerment defined as improving the ability of women to access the constituents of development in particular health, education, earning opportunities, rights, and political participation. In one direction, development alone can play a major role in driving down inequality between men and women, accelerate development.
Women play a crucial role serving Pakistan with passion and commitment by their numerous contributions as many as engineers, doctors, journalists, pilots, professors and social workers. Yet they require a greater amount of opportunity with assume a more astounding part in the socioeconomic growth of the nation.
Women Empowerment can be achieved through educating girls. Education develops skills, knowledge and confidence in women that can help them in achieving opportunities in economy. Though various Pakistani educational institutions are assisting through fee concession, needy scholarship and there are some institutions which had been established only for women education, for example, Jinnah University for Women in Karachi which is the first tertiary educational institute devoted only for empowering women through education. Also vocational training programs can help in providing better skills and good jobs to women.
WOMEN’S ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT
To build open doors for women in economy, they should have an entrance to better occupations, a business domain that backings them in working together, access to financial sector that address their issues, and job security in the midst of emergencies. To ensure legitimate rights of women, and to ensure that their voices are heard are critical components of strengthening women empowerment.
Female employment rate in Pakistan is the lowest in the world (4.3 percent). Pakistan’s women labor force rate is 22.6 % (international labor organization) which is quite glooming figure. In economic participation, Pakistani women ranked 126 out of 128 in the world, 123 out of 128 in educational attainments, 121 out of 128 in health and 43 out of 128 in political empowerment.
Nearly 65% of female doctors do not work after marriage. 80% of business graduates sit at home after marriage and less than 10 percent of educated and uneducated women are entrepreneurs. However mostly Pakistani women’s occupations are normally constrained to teaching, designing, call centers etc.
Regardless of this despairing statistics Pakistani women when they are given chance they have substantiated themselves incredible either in the field of politics, for example, Madr-e- millat Fatima Jinnah one of the founding leader of Pakistan and Benazir Bhutto who was the first Muslim women Prime Minister in the history or in the field of financial sector, for example, Shamshad Akhtar former Governor State bank of Pakistan the first women to assume this position or in the field of technology, for example, Arfa Kareem who was the youngest Microsoft Certified Professional or in the field of aviation, for example, Shukira Khanam first Pakistani women pilot or in the field of music, for example, “Malka e Taranum” Noor Jahan who had been awarded with the Pakistan’s most highest civilian awards such as “Sitara e Imtiaz” and “Tamgha e Imtiaz” and there are tremendous examples when the women of Pakistan have proved themselves whether national or international platforms.
Economically empowered women have more contribution to their families, societies and national economies. Women should be provided skills, resources and equal access to economic institutions. Women ought to have the ability to settle on and follow up on financial choices. Even in Islamic law there is no compulsion that women should keep themselves only to family obligation in fact Hazrat Khadija (Holy Prophet’s wife) was a business woman and under the governance of Khalifa Umer R.A women were used to participate in trading market of goods and services and he appointed Shaffa bint-e-Abdullah as supervisor of the market. Economic empowerment helps women in providing access to resources and opportunities in the economy. Education is a resource that women can get easily as compared to other resources which will lead to economic development in the society.
Employment and education opportunities for women diminish household poverty. Women should be given access to economic resources for contributing to growth. Though in Pakistan women labor force participation is low and centers in the gender divided labor markets which show gender inequality. Women are provided less education and training, almost no entrance to credit, vulnerability to claim their property, hard business registration strategies, and challenging entry in business networks.
Women skills should be expedited on a platform. Women potential are needed to be shown in a developing country like Pakistan, having burden of billions of loan to repay. Both men and women efforts and determinations are required to become a developed nation. In our society women who are doing participating in the economy are not that respected in comparison to women holding only domestic activities. Strategies must be implemented so that women can show their potentials at both indoor and outdoor level. Even house wives ought to be urged to demonstrate their potential by including themselves in creative activities like crafting or any arts instead of wasting their time. Indoor crafting by women can be a source of exports by making contacts at global level. Women willing to do job outside home should be given security and esteem in our society.
Women’s empowerment and economic development are closely interrelated. While development itself will bring about women’s empowerment, empowering women will bring about changes in decision-making, which will have a direct impact on development. Empowering women has dual benefits, first to the women and second to the society. When we empower a woman, actually we empower nation. When women have rights of education, skills, knowledge, health and jobs, their hidden potential will be utilized and both males and females will work together for the betterment of the society.
Writer’s Name: Ms. Sarah Hakeem
(Lecturer in Jinnah University for Women and Visiting faculty in University of Karachi in the department of Economics)
Writer’s Name: Ms. Urooj Aijaz
(Chairperson in the department of Economics at Jinnah University for Women)