The experts have recorded that innovation and technology no doubt offer extraordinary opportunities, yet trends show a rising gender in the digital divide and women are under-represented in the field of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and design as well. It prevents them from developing and influencing gender-responsive innovations to attain transformative gains for society. They have also explained that from mobile banking to artificial intelligence and the internet of things, it is important to note that women’s ideas and experiences equally influence the design and implementation of the innovations that shape our future societies.
In the developing countries like Pakistan there are number of measures government had taken to improve the women status for prosperity and economic development and such examples are: The government’s Lady Health Worker Program (LHWP) aligns with the rules and values of Alma Ata by effectively organizing a grassroots level system for the provision of primary care. Lady Health Workers (LHWs) play a mainly significant role for mothers and children by coordinating with traditional birth attendants and midwives to ensure that mothers receive adequate care. Set within a highly patriarchal society, the LHWP has also created a springboard for female empowerment. As one of the largest community health worker (CHW) programs globally, the LHWP offers significant lessons and may present a replicable CHW model to the global community. The program has recruited greater than 106,000 (LHWs). The total population covered under this program spread over 60 percent in Balochistan, greater than 80 percent in Punjab, 65 percent in Sindh and 60 percent in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK).
A PC-I of provincial also special areas governments are in approval process in which salary packages of the staff of this program have been grown by regularization of their services in compliance to the orders of the Honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan. On the other hand, NAVTTC has assigned a special quota of minimum 30 percent for female enrolment for skill development courses. The program is focused to prepare skilled manpower for National Mega Projects like CPEC and other energy related projects as CPEC is predicted to generate approximately 2 million jobs for skilled manpower.
It is also recorded that Women Business Development Centre (WBDC) offers a secure facility for women entrepreneurs promoting mainly home based business to conduct business in more formal manner. The centre includes offices, display facility and training opportunities for women entrepreneurs of the region.
According to the Demographic and Health Survey (DHS), the early childhood mortality rate in Pakistan still remains a challenge as one child out of fourteen does not survive to celebrate his fifth birthday. It is also recorded that women in the country are more overweight or obese than ever before, 52 percent of women age 15-49 during FY2017-18 as against to 40 percent during FY2012-13.
In another survey it is also mentioned that greater than 1 in 4 ever-married women (28 percent) have experienced physical violence since age 15, and 6 percent have experienced sexual violence. The survey registered that the country has one of the highest fertility rates in the region with an average of 3.6 births per woman. The use of family planning among married women has stagnated almost 34 percent over the previous 5 years. The first time reporting on disable people said that among adults age 15 and older, 9 percent of women and 7 percent of men have a lot of difficulty or cannot function in at least one domain of disability seeing, hearing, communicating, remembering or concentrating, walking or climbing steps, and washing all over or dressing.
The fourth Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey (PDHS) performed after 18 years found that families in the country are though getting healthier while progress has been slower in nutrition and family planning use among women.
The survey recorded that reproductive health care coverage has also enhanced and every 09 in 10 women age 15-49 receive antenatal care from a skilled provider such as a doctor, nurse, midwife, or lady health visitor.
Different sources also recorded that the Pakistani women of presently however, enjoy a better status than in the past. In modern Pakistan, women have held high offices including that of the Prime Minister, Speaker of the National Assembly, leader of the opposition, also Federal Ministers, and Judges. The Constitution of Pakistan recognises equality between men and women (Art. 25(2) states women in Pakistan have increased political presence, formed strong civil organisations and contributed to academic programs at universities.
According to the World Bank facts, labour force participation for women over the age of 15 in Pakistan was only 25.12 percent during 2018. Unfortunately the majority of women who work are employed in low-quality sectors like manufacturing, agriculture, fishing and retail stores. Most work is in the agriculture sector: women constitute greater than 7 out of 10 workers in this sector. Research has explained that there are very low levels of mobility for women in high poverty districts. As a consequence of this, almost 85 percent work within their locality of households. This low mobility is a constraint in terms of women’s access to markets when they are self-employed or seeking quality work outside.
According to Women’s Economic and Social Wellbeing Survey in Punjab 2017-18, only 26.6 percent of paid women employees have access to separate washrooms and 17.7 percent avail flexible working timings in their places of work. However, the availability of daycare facilities and pick and drop services is very low. Only 4.5 percent of women have access to daycare centres and 3.3 percent avail dedicated pick and drop service in Punjab.
International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8 every year and also in Pakistan. Women are the future of Pakistan and their durable progress is important. The Government of Pakistan must protect the women rights in the country and keep on working for the well being of the women.