Having only
26% of women recorded in labour force while the majority of the women are
underpaid and overworked, is simply economically inefficient for Pakistan. In
order to be able to address this crucial issue, the root problems should be
explored first. For the economic empowerment of women, women must be able to
succeed, advance economically and have power and agency to make decisions,
provided that gender equality, resources and skills are offered. Unfortunately,
due to inadequate number of available facilities- schools, there’s a low net
enrollment of children in schools; thus not providing the skills for employment
later. This is the same case as with lack of training or just training for a
few traditional skills. A woman’s reproductive burden as well as the difficulty
to access loans from microfinance organizations (“only 13% of women are able
to access loans”) impede her economic participation. This along with gender
inequality (“men earn 71% more than women on average”), has led to
almost 41 million women out of labour force and has caused most women to earn
below minimum wage (PKR 10000) whether in the formal or informal sector.

    Due to this, Pakistan ranked 143 out 145
countries in economic participation and opportunities, and ranked 135 in educational
attainment. These rankings occur in spite of Article 38 of the Constitution of
Pakistan that guarantees citizens the right to pursue economic opportunities
irrespective of sex, caste or creed and related labour laws. Furthermore and
sadly, most of the districts have a low WEE Index, below 0.5. For example,
Punjab’s index is 0.5, but falls below 0.4 when indicators for women’s violence
is added. Looking at the bright side, however, there will be a concerted effort
to improve women’s access, opportunities and capabilities for them to
participate as full economic actors in development and growth of a dynamic
Pakistan that the Vision 2025 seeks.

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    Enforcing Article 25A
that mandates provision of free school education for ages 5-16 across Pakistan
by ensuring that schools, teachers and books
are available (this includes children with disabilities) is the
first step to tackle this issue. Increasing the number of women and female
judges at all levels, along with rewarding
businesses in the police force and allied law enforcement which employ a
certain percentage of women, have women in senior decision-making management
positions, or are owned by women will definitely boost Pakistan’s economic
efficiency by abusing its otherwise untapped potential. Providing training and
courses to women in non-traditional fields as well as improving the type and
value of microfinance available to women will provide women with market
demand-driven skills and knowledge on business development. Corporate social
responsibility conditions, enforced through legislation and relevant
mechanisms, should ensure above minimum wage
incomes, day care centers for women employees, separate toilets and spaces for women employees, and a safe, free of harassment workplace. Women with
professional and post graduate degrees should be given special incentives to enter and stay in the workplace; such as salaries comparable to those of men,
transport and childcare and assurance of
re-employment when career breaks occur due to marriage and child bearing.
By this, we are equipping the Pakistan that Vision 2025 seeks in terms of
women’s economic empowerment.

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