GENDER INCLUSION IN SOCIO-ECONOMIC LANDSCAP OF PAKISTAN

Pakistan is one of the most important countries of Sub continent in South Asia due to its geo-political situation .Women are an important integral part of any society in the world so is the case in Pakistan. Women constitute about 51% of the population according to latest census. The situation of women participation in education and economic activities has considerably increased over the past 10 years. Now whether sports or education or research or art & films, women have there presence and making their mark. Pakistan has signed the Millennium Development Goals, thus affirming its commitment to empower women and eradicate gender inequality by 2015 (Subohi, 2006). Pakistan’s Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Policy 2007 also states that special attention will be given to women entrepreneurs and other disadvantaged groups. The policy focuses to increase the share of women-owned SMEs to 6 per cent. According to UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 2015, 37% of female researchers belong to the medical sciences, 33.8% of female researchers in Pakistan belong to natural sciences, 15.4% belong to engineering and technology, 11% belong to the agricultural sciences while 39.9% belong to the social sciences and humanities. According to the Pakistan Education Statistics, 2015-16 by AEPAM, the Gross Enrollment Ratio of females in primary and secondary education has increased from the previous years .According to PCST R&D Surveys 2013-14, the number of female researchers (headcount) by field of science and sector of employment has increased from the previous years. Similarly, according to Higher Education Commission Annual Report 2013-14, the enrollment of females in Universities is on the rise.
According to ILO report by Nabeel , It all started in a planned way in 1979 when The Women’s Division was established as a part of the Cabinet Division subsequently upgraded to become the Ministry of Women’s Development (MoWD) in 1989. This showed a government commitment to address the issues of Pakistani women in a serious way. The Government of Pakistan signed the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1995. A National Plan of Action was prepared and issued in 1998 by the MoWD, which detailed the strategic objectives of 12 targeted areas and their respective plans. The Government of Pakistan (GoP) and Pakistani NGOs participated in the Beijing +5 meeting in New York and submitted two reports on the initiatives taken by the respective sectors on the 12 areas of the National Plan of Action. The last decade has seen a number of initiatives using micro-credit as a tool for poverty alleviation. Examples include the Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF), the National Rural Support Program (NRSP), other Rural Support Programs (RSPs), and more recently the Khushali Bank.Many organisations have been form to facilitate women entrepreneurs of rural and urban areas to do business and take part in boosting economy. Small and medium enterprise development Authority(SMEDA) , First women Bank , Women chambers of commerce, Women’s For a and other organizations are a few examples. Especially SMEDA is doing a great deal to support women entrepreneurs.It has established women business development and incubation centers and also provides feasibility studies and business management trainings to women in rural and urban areas.National productivity organization(NPO) has established women entrepreneurship development system (WEDS) which is a gender focused and gender friendly organization with gender specific staff policies and organizational planning, providing wide range of services. The Pakistan Association of Women Entrepreneurs (PAWE) is one of these and was registered as a non-governmental organization (NGO) in 1985. The Association of Business, Professional and Agricultural Women is another organization in Karachi that engages in multiple activities to facilitate social harmony, The Women Entrepreneurs Society (WES) is an organization in Lahore. Employer’s Federation of Pakistan took the initiative and started a number of programs to raise awareness among women through seminars, with the active assistance of the ILO and a number of donor agencies, like the World Bank, NORAD, etc. Since 1992. Trade Development Authority of Pakistan(TDAP)has been instrumental in facilitating, subsidizing and promoting our Women Entrepreneur or women-led businesses through various initiatives such as training programs , workshops, local and international exhibitions, trade fares etc., to enable women entrepreneurs to contribute in enhancing trade revenues and overall growth of the country. Development of women entrepreneurs engaged in trade of goods and services through empowerment, engagement, education and exposure is one of the major goals of the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP).” WEXNET is a platform which provides women with opportunities to meet requirements of domestic urban consumer facilitating them to: Exhibit their products, Network with each other, Learn from mutual experiences, and Form collaborations and partnerships for sharing dividends. USAID is also very active in providing business facilities and opportunities to women in Pakistan. It launched the Women’s Economic Empowerment Activity (WEEA) , a five-year initiative supports the Government of Pakistan’s efforts to promote women’s social and economic empowerment through safe and dignified access to income opportunities, information, resources, and services. British council also has started many initiatives to enable women entrepreneurs in Pakistan. The Pakistan government plans to set up a market exclusively for women entrepreneurs in the federal capital Islamabad where they will be able to promote and sell their products. In the field of information and digital technology also ,the women of Pakistan are progressing. As per a survey study conducted by P@SHA, (Pakistan software houses association)the Gender Diversity Ratio of companies stands at an average of 16.7 percent only where multinational companies have slightly better gender diversity ration compared to local companies. Gender disparity is worse for women in the information and communication technology (ICT), digital/ Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) careers in Pakistan. Only 16 percent of female computer science graduates are working versus 83 percent men. However there is a huge increase in number of women who are studying ICT or STEM subjects or getting into technology business.Women In Tech PK is a women-only community offering a platform where members can talk freely about professional and career-related issues, seek advice as well as opportunities, find mentors and, forge organizational alliances and individual collaborations. She Loves Tech is also Empowering Pakistani women through technology and entrepreneurship. Women Tech Network is a global platform powered by Coding Girls, Tech Family Ventures and to allocate promoting diversity in tech, leadership and entrepreneurship.It has also started many initiatives for women in Pakistan.She connects is also an other tech enabled women entrepreneurship in Pakistan working to facilitate women tech entrepreneurs. In spite all these efforts there is dire need to educate and facilitate women in free lancing , digital technologies,social media marketing and digital entrepreneurship. Although many short courses have started in this regard but still a lot needs to be done.These all organizations and their efforts are paving the way towards gender balance and inclusion in order to make successful economic activities in Pakistan besides strengthening the social cohesion .
Compiled and edited by AURANGZEB SOHARWARDI

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