Editor's Note

Recent years have seen incredible progress of women in diverse professional fields. They have seized opportunities wherever presented and made their presence felt. As more and more women feel the need to be professionally active, the surge in online marketplaces and remote working options have opened avenues for them that can help them navigate many hurdles that previously limited their potential. And the best part is the world could quite literally be their oyster, if they so choose.
With the emergence of online marketplaces and modern clientele who prefer to cater to their needs through online vendors, many women who could not enter a physical marketplaces and sell products because of various impediments can now do so from the comfort of their homes. Such an arrangement allows them to take care of the many traditional roles that often prevented them from working outside the home. A major advantage for these women is that their clientele is no longer limited to the location they operate from; now they can reach customers globally. Another benefit for such businesses (and also those operating in physical marketplaces) is the free marketing thanks to the reach social media platforms provide.
Moreover, various online platforms offering freelancing gigs are also convenient recourse for women who have not yet found gainful employment or who cannot work outside of home. Many women can now also make use of remote-working facility that allows them to sit in the comfort of their home and work full time without having to worry about commute, relocation or the many social constraints that a lot of women still face. And if one wants to find a job, there are online platforms for that as well where they can connect with potential employers as well as network so as not to miss out on opportunities.
Rendering women better access to the new digital technologies seems like a promising starting point for a more equal female participation in labor markets, financial markets, and entrepreneurship. As much as the advance in technology and digitalization offers new avenues for women, there are many barriers that stymie their progress. Accessibility and awareness about the possibilities are the major challenges that women face. In addition, many women are hesitant to pursue careers in IT related fields as tech is perceived, because of some unexplained ingrained gender norms, a male domain. Such assumptions about what women want and need from technology prevent them from learning digital skills that in turn prove a handicap if and when they decide to take up a career path involving technology. 
Such problems can easily be handled and overcome; the key is to realize the importance of doing so, and with concerted effort, solutions can be created. The federal and provincial governments are already working to maximize on the potential of digitalization and technology to boost the economy and standards of living of our people. The private sector too is playing its part. Digital technologies can help empower women politically, economically and socially if they have the necessary tools and know how to use them. HH

Nadia Zubair
Email: [email protected]

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