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GENDER EQUALITY IN PAKISTAN
Women representation in business management has been the focus of public debates for years. But in Pakistan this has only recently started to occur. In today’s world, the work force in most countries gives opportunities for women as much as they give for men. In European culture gender diversity is taken as a value-driver in organizational strategy and corporate governance. And this has become a challenging topic in the recent times. A higher ratio of female workers with in the firm will result in increased firm value, productivity and profitability. In Pakistan the amount of women involved in the work force is relatively low. This essay will highlight the women representation in business management in Pakistan.
Pakistan currently ranks the world’s second-worst country in terms of gender in equality. Women’s struggle for empowerment has been an issue in Pakistan since the old days, which is still not over. We turn the focus on women because they have traditionally been the marginalized gender in countries like Pakistan. Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) in partnership with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) undertook a Country Gender Profile study with a purpose to understand the overall status of women and men from gender equality perspective. The period in focus is from 1999 to 2007. The aim was to analyze the environmental, socio cultural context, traditions and human behaviors that have an impact on how gender inequality occurs in Pakistan. (Pakistan: Country Gender Profile, July2008, Jica, SDPI,,http://www.jica.go.jp/pakistan/english/office/others/pdf/CGP_01.pdf). From studies carried out in Pakistan education was highlighted as one of the major reasons for the gap between male and female workers. The education system in Pakistan still suffers form problems like low public spending and poverty. The poor conditions of public schools in Pakistan leads to most parents keeping their kids specially the females form going out. Staying at home becomes a lifestyle at some point.
A vast majority of the women in rural areas are involved in house hold work and in agricultural activities as unpaid family work. This is because of the less opportunities for the women in these areas to find work. Also because most females do not have the qualifications required to start working. Which takes us back to the lack of education. Female ownership of an important asset or land is a rare thing in Pakistan. Laws have been made in the past years to allow women to work but the lack of awareness and old customs stop the numbers from growing. In the recent years women involved in the work force have increased in number but their voices are never heard on debates. Another reason for females not coming out to work is lack of support for them by the managers. Maternity leaves are not easily given which makes it hard for women to hold on to their jobs and are forced out. Although according to the law women have to be given 12 months of maternity leave with a 100% wage by their employers. But since most companies do not really provide the required cooperation females prefer to stay home and not work at all. The unemployment rate in Pakistan gets higher by every age group. They are the last ones to get a job and the first ones to loose it. And it’s been like that since the old days.
“The figure above shows the primary school gross enrollment rate between Males and Females in Pakistan. Although the numbers change very little between the years the number of females who get enrolled in primary school is really less compared to the number of males. This shows that the gap between education is also high which leads to less females getting the chance to work in the top firms”
As per the latest Human Development rankings, 2007/2008, Pakistan, with the HDI ranking of 136 out of a total of 177 countries, comes under the band of MHDC.(Pakistan:CountryGenderProfile,July2008,Jica,SDPI,,http://www.jica.go.jp/pakistan/english/office/others/pdf/CGP_01.pdf). Pakistan is also on the Global gender Gap statistics top 10 worst countries in terms of the equality in the work force. For women, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is one of the worst of countries to live in. There are only two other countries worse off than is Pakistan, which are Yemen and Chad. IN terms of under economic participation, Pakistan is ranked 126 out of 128. In statistics collected from Educational attainment Pakistan is ranked, 123 out of 128. Health facilities, 121 out of 128. Political empowerment, 43 out of 128. Surprisingly, Pakistani women are worse off this year than they were last year (http://www.thenews.com.pk/daily_detail.asp? id=107809).
These figures can be improved and in the past few years the Pakistani government has taken a few steps to make a change. Five new women centers were established and a program was held to help young females in Pakistan spreading awareness about how they have the opportunity of working in big firms. It training was carried out for elected women councilors with in the local government. All these plans and policies carried out by the Government have been put to work to ensure that status of women is improved in the country. In addition to this National Policy for the Development and Empowerment has been developed in 2002. Which gave the chance for many NGOs to come and work in Pakistan to spread awareness among young and adult females who are keep to work in the top companies but didn’t get a chance due to the small things that are holding them back.
Norms restricting women’s mobility are closely linked to issues of purdah and “izzat” (honor) (Mumtaz and Salway (2005)). This has also been of the main reasons why women are holding back and prefer to stay home rather than work. Most of the women say that streets are not safe enough for them to be active out side their homes in a survey done in Pakistan. Improvements can be made to reduce criminal activity and violence with in the city in order to encourage more women to go and work. Companies can make their firms more inviting and make the work place female friendly so that women will get more interested in joining the firms. A good start can be by offering them senior positions as much as men are offered. Making the working hours flexible by allowing work to be done at home can be a good change too. Last but not least making the maternity leave easy for female workers. This has been a big problem in Pakistan but it can be easily improved by introducing a more flexible procedure to be followed for when they need the maternity leave. By providing them with more options.
The government of Pakistan is continuously trying to balance the low academic standards by encouraging primary education and educating the young population on the available opportunities. However, the old customs followed in the country is what stops the process from improving. This situation can be made better by introducing new laws, which enforce both genders to finish school up to some extent. The country as a whole has to try and improve their rankings on the gender equality charts.
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