Empowering Women, Empowering Economy

Empowering women is the key to social and economic development in the world. In today’s world, around49.6 percent of the world’s population is female, giving a total female population of around 3.52 billion in the world as of 2014.

Pakistan needs to take a serious step for women’s participation in an overall national economy because according to GeoHive, Pakistan has 85 million female populations out of 170 million totals. This is almost half of the total population. When they are given equal rights and opportunities in social, economic and political grounds, this huge folk would bring heaps of benefits to the nation.

Quaid E Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, once said that ‘No nation can rise to the height of glory unless your women are side by side with you.’ These words for our today’s people seem nothing than shallow.

The Constitution of Pakistan states in article 9, 25, and 34 accordingly say that ‘security of person – no person shall be deprived of live or liberty saves in accordance with law.’ ‘All citizens are equal before law and are entitled to equal protection of law. There shall be no discrimination on the basis of sex. Nothing in this article shall prevent the state from making any special provision for the protection of women and children.’ ‘Full participation of women in National Life – steps shall be taken to ensure the participation of women in all spheres of national life.’But these articles are not implemented in the spirit that they should work for women.

The Holy Quran says that ‘And for women are rights over men similar to those of men over women (2:228).  Unfortunately, we have forgotten the actual spirit of the Holy Quran and have interpreted in our ways.

Given the above references, we see no implementation of the words of the founder of Pakistan, the constitution and the religion we follow. Do you not think it is the threshold of great tragedy?

Hindrances toward empowering women in Pakistan are prevailing since decades due to conventional values and thoughts of the people, and also the patriarchal society. They have very less equal chances of participation in the formal workforce due to gender pigeonholes that lead to their irresistible illustration in the unpaid care work. According to recent report ‘women’s economic participation and empowerment in Pakistan’ depicts that women in Pakistan are ten times more involved in unpaid care work than men. This is also manifested in lower literacy levels among women and girls resulting in their sparse presentation in high skilled jobs.

They are restricted to the four walls of homes on the pretext that Islam has forbidden women to work with male partners. Not only are this but they are deprived of their basic rights of education and freedom.

The women who work at home, in agriculture or industries; there is no recognition for their work. From dawn till dusk, they keep on servicing for the husband, children, other members of the family, even the rural women also work in agriculture. I really salute them from the core of my heart for being so invincible, tolerant and diligent.

There is another problem that lack of gender responsive  infrastructure and  weak implementation  of laws  on sexual harassment at workplace and at public places further constrain women from pursuing their careers outside their homes. This is showed by the appallingly low percentage of women in the public sector employment nationally – less than5 percent.  They should be provided access to affordable childcare, transport, residential services etc.  is essential for  ensuring equal  participation of  men and  women in  the labour  market,  education and training.

The education and empowerment of women is a guarantee leading the country to the path of economic development. If we empower women, they would empower our economy, when our economy is empowered then overall country and nation would be developed. Therefore, instead of considering them as the showpiece, we must invest in them to challenge the world. Their active participation in social, economic and political settings would no doubt pace us, where actually we would like to move on – socio-economic development.

The bottom line is that women are “underutilized, underpaid, under-appreciated—and over-exploited.” This needs to change. Yes, it is a matter of justice, but it is also a matter of basic economics.

This article was published on Daily Times 

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