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Women empowerment in the making

Women empowerment in the making

Various studies identify that women’s empowerment is a procedure of social and personal change, taking place over interlinked and mutually reinforcing political, psychological, social and economic domains, and by which women individually and collectively gain power, meaningful selections and control over their lives. It is not a linear, uncontested procedure but instead a journey characterized through negotiation and compromise, and uncertain outcomes. It is said that women’s aptitude to succeed and advance economically and the power to make and act on economic decisions is core to the understanding of a number of development institutions in the country. Various studies also identify that women’s empowerment and economic development are closely connected. While development itself will bring about women’s empowerment, empowering women will bring about changes in planning, which will have a direct impact on development. Studies also reveal that economic development alone is insufficient to ensure significant progress in important dimensions of women’s empowerment, in particular, important progress in decision-making ability in the face of pervasive stereotypes against women’s aptitude. Furthermore, women’s empowerment leads to improvement in some aspects of children’s welfare, but at the expense of some others (education).

In Pakistan, analysis of Economic Survey of Pakistan FY2020 showed that women constitute 48.4 percent of Pakistan’s population. Empowerment of women and gender equality is at the foremost agenda of the present Government of Pakistan. The contribution of the women to the health and productivity of the whole family and community cannot be denied. The wellbeing and provision of enabling environment for equitable gender participation also ensure enhanced prospects for the next generation. The SDGs recognizing the significance of empowering women sets Goal 5 that is dedicated to “achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”. The targets of this goal are to end all forms of discrimination; eliminate violence against women and girls in all its manifestations ensure health and reproductive rights: and provide a conducive environment for political, social and economic participation of women. The Government of Pakistan recorded that following the adoption of the SDGs, the government initiated dedicated attempts to attain SDG-5. These attempts began with the collection and reporting of gender-disaggregated data, alongside quota setting for women’s employment in the public sector, and the requirement that women must have at least 33 percent representation on the boards of statutory bodies and public sector organizations. A Gender Management Information System was introduced in Punjab, while Sindh developed a Gender Reforms Action Plan (GRAP). Funds were allocated through both provinces for the establishment of Day Care Centers at workplaces. Federal and provincial governments have taken a strong stance through introducing gender parity like the establishment of a toll-free BOLO helpline in Punjab, establishment of women only police station in KPK, creation of training and rehabilitation centers in Sindh and entire the country.

National and Provincial Commission on the Status of Women have been at the forefront of efforts to promote gender equality and women empowerment. The Maternity Benefits Act has been amended at the national and provincial levels. In addition, Domestic Violence and Prevention Act and Protection against Harassment of Women at Workplace Acts have also been promulgated. The federal and provincial governments counting other civil society stakeholders and organizations remained engaged in promoting gender equality and women empowerment through awareness raising, seminars, workshops and allocation of resources under provincial Annual Development Programmes.

Unluckily in Pakistan, sources recorded that total 6 out of 10 women holding a postgraduate degree remained unemployed in the country. Reviewing the Pakistan Labour Force Survey for the year 2017-18, 78 percent females were not part of the labour force compared to 33 percent of males. Compared to 64 percent males, only 18 percent females are employed as per the Labor Force Survey. Statistics also showed that a breakdown of the genders with an undergraduate degree explained that 77 percent males with a bachelors degree were part of the workforce but only 18 percent of females with the same degree level were part of the workforce in Pakistan. The statistics also recorded that only 40 percent of females with a Masters degree are employed as compared 86.4 percent of males. While fewer women are part of the labour force, these statistics are noteworthy because within almost all education levels, the proportion of females who report unemployment is higher than those of males in the country. It is also showed that individuals with a master degree or above were more probable to be employed as compared to those with an undergraduate or professional degree. Those with no formal education are more probable to be employed compared to primary level (30 percent), Matriculation (43 percent) and Intermediate (41 percent). It is also in the last 12 months, 41 percent Pakistanis noted that they were employed, 3.7 percent said that they were unemployed, while 55.3 percent claimed that they were not in the labour force. While assessing the age of the people in the workforce, the experts said that unemployment was 4.6 percent among people under the age of 20, making it the highest when compared to other age groups. While unemployment was 4.1 percent among the people aged between 21 and 30. Age groups 31-40 and 41-50 reported the highest degrees of employment. The experts also found that unemployment in people from urban areas was 7 percent, much higher compared to the rural areas, where unemployment was 3 percent. Alternatively, while 42 percent of Pakistan’s rural population is employed, the number is smaller (36 percent) for the urban population in the country.

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