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Hilal Her

Tapping the Potential of Young Pakistani Women

July 2023

Women are equal drivers of any society’s social and economic development. While women in Pakistan are making progressive strides in different fields, their potential is not being utilized to the fullest. Every economy can attain progression with the equal participation of its women. Therefore, women’s contribution is critical for promising social and economic advancement of Pakistan. Inclusion of women in the workforce is the most direct way of economic upturn, which broadens the skilled workforce and boosts overall growth. This also improves individual wellbeing, financial independence, income, etc. By giving women resources and opportunities to enhance their productivity at the workplace results in economic progress. Reducing the gender pay gap, empowering their access to capital and markets, providing micro-credit finance to promote entrepreneurship, equal participation in the labor force, inclusion in decision-making and leadership, investment in enhancing their skills, education, health, and measures to combat harassment are the efforts that need to be made at all levels.
Women in Pakistan are employed in various sectors, i.e., agriculture, manufacturing, and services. It is required to decisively raise awareness among women about the traditional and emerging technologies in the respective sectors. 
Agriculture 
In Pakistan, women are the main contributors to the agriculture sector, as the percentage of female workers is 67.9%, according to the Labour Force Survey of Pakistan (2020-21). Despite the essential role of women in agriculture production and family farming, their representation needs to be present at the national level. Most of the work of female workers falls under the informal sector and remains unrecognized. To tap the potential of young Pakistani women in the agriculture sector, the need of the time is to create more opportunities for them to progress ahead in this sector. Additionally, the advancement of the agricultural sector that contributes to national and household income, food security, and poverty reduction requires redefining and reimaging of women’s roles and responsibilities in this area. 
Women should be empowered with access to the latest production and digital technology, productive resources, and markets. There is a need for gender equity, financial policies, sustainable production policies, climatic adaptation strategies, access to inputs, and provisions of funds/loans to enhance their economic potential. Local governments should launch capacity development programs at different levels in far-flung areas. These programs will be fundamental in equitable rural progress that would help them to increase their access to production inputs and other natural resources, i.e., land and water. It is required to overcome the knowledge barriers regarding the latest technology for production and rescue time. For improved production and progress in the agriculture sector, training centers for rural women about agriculture should be established. The inclusion of women in agriculture production practices could help to raise their decision-making power and self-confidence. Ensuring the equal participation of women in all decision-making processes can be a success factor for the prosperity of Pakistan.
Manufacturing 
Mostly Pakistani women work in textiles and garment, food products, leather and footwear manufacturing industries. Other sub-sectors like automation, construction, chemicals, mining, etc., are traditionally considered male-dominated, and women’s participation is excluded from them. Also, some stereotypes and social norms in our society make it difficult for women to enter this sector. Moreover, rigid working environments, working hours, and harassment are also factors.
There is a need to boost women’s participation in order to bring a diverse workforce, creativity, and innovation to the manufacturing industry. Offering employability in these sectors by introducing mentorship and internship initiatives to scale up their potential should also be done. Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) related courses/education in rural and urban areas could be an encouraging step to increase women’s participation.
Linking skills training and education to the demands of the manufacturing sector is another positive step to motivate women, bring diversity and gender mainstreaming in this sector. Apart from this, there is a need to break down the traditional stereotypes and perceptions that impede women’s participation and advancement in this sector. Training and awareness-raising programs should be promoted by organizations that empower, attract and foster women to unlock their potential in manufacturing sector. Lastly, gender-responsive policies should advocate making a safe environment for female workers. Greater gender equality would boost competitiveness, and raise progress of this sector, thereby contributing to the country’s overall economic growth. 
Services 
The services sector is the fastest-growing sector globally, which includes, e.g., social services (education, medical, health, community and household services), producer services (financial intermediaries and banks), and entertainment services. Women’s potential in this sector still needs to be tapped into, and participation is absent in many subsectors. 
The first and foremost thing is investment through the provision of education, i.e., skill, training and technology. It is the fundamental key for the advancement of social and economic progress. Moreover, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) report 2017, “Providing more educational opportunities to women and girls can help in labor force participation rates, and thereby result in the better quality of human capital.” 



Investment in job-oriented skills and reskills could also increase the economic productivity of females. Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and digital literacy are essential for skill enhancement, employability, higher earning, and better job opportunities. Providing digital technology at the graduation level should be made essential for digital literacy and employability, as women need more access to digital technology in Pakistan. Women can bring huge economic progress by advancing their careers through engaging with the ICT. Many Pakistani women are making milestones in online businesses and freelancing, as it renders many opportunities and makes it easy for women to work from home. Secondly, female entrepreneurs need to be introduced to trade policies for their cognizance about the country’s exports. In the health sector, provide inclusion and rights to frontline workers, as many workers are not fully acknowledged. Women in the hotel, restaurant and tourism sectors can also bring progress in foreign exchange and revenue. Higher gender equality is positively associated with income, competitiveness, and economic growth.
Female representation is crucial in government organizations, health and education sector, and businesses to encourage their participation rate in the different echelons of Pakistani society. Enforcement of legislation, gender-based budgeting, social and environmental protection, etc., regarding women is imperative as Pakistan can’t compete in the modern world without harnessing the potential of its women. HH


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