International study of MGI (McKinsey Global Institute) reveals that $12 trillion could be added to worldwide gross domestic product (GDP) by 2025 by advancing women’s equality. In the study, experts also mentioned that the public, private, and social sectors would need to act to close gender gaps in work and society. In a full potential situation in which women play identical positions in labor markets to that of men, as much as $28 trillion, or 26 percent, could be added to worldwide yearly GDP by 2025.
In spite of above, in the economy of Pakistan, women play a vital role in the economic growth and the Government of Pakistan has been taking strictly initiatives to increase women empowerment in the country. Pakistani experts also stated that in Pakistan’s exports women had no direct role. But statistics also show that Bangladesh has better female representation in exports than Pakistan at around 5-10 percent. Prominent economists also urge that if women receive as many opportunities as the country’s male population, GDP will increase by at least 10 percent. On the other hand, in Pakistan, Benazir Income Support Program (BISP), a flagship social protection program of the government is offering social assistance to women. BISP also gives interest free financial help to the female beneficiaries under their Waseela-e-Haq (Micro-Finance) program to start their own business. The ministry of finance mentioned in a report that the vocational and technical training of one month to a year’s duration, to the female beneficiary or her nominee has been offered under the Waseela-e-Rozgar (Technical & Vocational Training) program (target is 150,000 beneficiaries) with Rs 6,000 monthly stipend for each trainee.
Statistics also showed in a statement that Waseela–e-Sehat (Life and Health Insurance) program subsidized health care for beneficiaries and life insurance to 1 million women; the premium is paid through the program. Waseela-e-Taleem (Primary Education) also encourage the beneficiaries families to send their children ages 5-12 years to school by a co-responsibility cash transfer of Rs 200/- per child (limit to three per family ).
It is also mentioned in a report that the Government of Pakistan has taken measures to ensure women’s rights as envisaged in the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). Acknowledging ‘Honor Killings’ as a critical problem, additionally the government of Pakistan has enacted effective legislation to address women’s issues with a view to safeguard their rights i.e. “Criminal Law (Amendment) Offences in the name or pretext of Honour Act, 2016” and “Criminal Law (Amendment) Offences Relating to Rape, Act 2016.
In the economic survey of Pakistan FY2018, economists also stated that several institutions have contributed in securing and promoting women’s rights and National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW) is one of them. The NCSW has planned a comprehensive roadmap defining goals, priorities and long term policies for empowerment of the women with special focus on issues of home based/informal sector workers and their inclusion in the labor force, affirmative action for reservation of quotas in the government jobs counting minority communities and initiatives for legislation.
The economists also mentioned in the survey, the government has taken many initiatives to attain women’s empowerment by awareness growing campaigns and allocation of budget. Funds amounting to Rs 254.0 million have been assigned in Public Sector Development Program (PSDP) 2017-18 to four new development schemes of Ministry of Human Rights counting Implementation of Action Plan for Human Rights in Pakistan, Institutional strengthening of Ministry of Human Rights, Acquisition of land for construction of building for National Institute of Human Rights and Construction of working women hostel in Islamabad. In addition to that statistics also showed that an amount of Rs 52.00 million has been assigned for 2 ongoing development schemes of Ministry of Human Rights i.e. Helpline for legal advice on violations of human rights with an allocation of Rs 25.0 million and establishment of National Institute of Human Rights with an allocation of Rs 27.00 million.
Furthermore, in order to promote innovative ideas based on business plans leading to solution of social issues, the government has organized a Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at a cost of Rs 178.43 million focusing on women entrepreneurship. The project is unique in nature for addressing social challenges by innovative business plans and women are particularly encouraged to grow as an entrepreneur. More recently, different sources also mentioned that BISP and American Refugee Committee (ARC) inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for enrollment of children of BISP beneficiaries in schools. The MOU was inked for enrollment of 208,445 out of school children in 10 operational districts of BISP’s Waseela-e-Taleem program from September 2018 till December 2020.
A lot needs to be done to improve technical and vocational education and training in people. The country’s current technical and vocational education network covers a very small proportion of the population and the skills needed for the economy to improve. This marks a dire need to empower people and communities with vocational and employable skills. The different ongoing projects in Pakistan aim to fill that gap by empowering young men and women from unprivileged background to acquire interpersonal and technical skills. Statistics shows that more than a third of Pakistan’s population is living below the poverty line. Balochistan province has been recorded the highest rate of poverty, Sindh province comes second, followed by KPK and then Punjab province. According to experts, Pakistan’s biggest challenge is poverty. It is reasoned by inflation, unequal distribution of resources, lack of facilities, high unemployment rates, and rising population.