Step up and take the lead

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Sajjad Ahmad Khan

Women constitute almost half of the population of Pakistan. They can play a key role in economic development if provided with conducive and hassle free environment including proper reward system and dynamic leadership

Economic empowerment of women is not just a narrative or political rhetoric but an indispensable factor for social and economic development. For the prosperity of a country, it is cardinal and quintessential to encourage women to become puissant members of the economic field. The participation women in economic activities will not only result in poverty reduction but will also upraise their individual status. Moreover, it definitely sets a direct path towards the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) while materialising the modern concept of ‘Womenomics’. The term ‘Womenomics’ was first coined by Cathy Matsui, a strategist at the Goldman Sachs Group of Industries, who presumed as substratal the peppy and vehement role of women in economic development. Later, in 2013, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared ‘Womenomics’ to be the foremost and leading factor for his country’s economic growth and promotion of gender equality policy.
Women constitute almost half of the population of Pakistan. They can play a key role in economic development if provided with conducive and hassle free environment including proper reward system and dynamic leadership . Although women make up 38.8 percent of the workforce globally, this number is still only 20 percent in Pakistan. If the gap between men and women is reduced, the gross domestic product of the country can increase significantly. Women constitute more than 49% of the population in Pakistan, yet men dominate in all spheres of life. Women in Pakistan are facing many social and cultural problems even to live a socially copacetic life and to get their legitimate rights. Unfortunately, patriarchal family system dominants in Pakistan and under the system the man is an upper-hand authority being head of the family. Unfortunately, we misknow and misreckon the real meaning of women empowerment and its over all socio-economic impact on a society. Women empowerment is a combination of various measures and activities that lead to a prosperous society, wherein men and women can enjoy equal rights. During the process of empowerment of women, people (including men and women) become aware of their rights. Later, they develop the ability and spunk to defend their rights on every forum. By adhering to these principles, people may start their journey towards a welfare society where prosperity reigns. But challenging the entrenched and old patriarchal norms is not a bambino game, but a real hard nut to crack. Moreover male chauvinism has become dangerously ingrained in the veins of our society. It is not possible to quick fix it with mild homeopathic medicine, but this canker sore can be removed through surgically intervention only.
Moreover, their (women) rights are not fulfilled just by giving employment opportunities . Their real rights will be paid when they are promoted in every sphere of life. Their number and voice in the Parliament will have to be made effective. In order to make any law-making ideal, it is necessary that the opinions of women are fully included in it. Women should be given the opportunity to express their position in private and public matters so that they have a full share in all decision-making. The constitution of Pakistan rejects all kinds of discrimination on the basis of gender, but still women are not given seats in the National Assembly according to their population. Currently, there are 364 seats in the National Assembly, out of which 60 seats are reserved for women. The Election Act 2017 laws have encouraged women to come forward and play a proactive role in politics and legislation. According to this act, any act or tactic that interferes with the participation of women in the election has been declared a crime. The Act further states that every party shall be required to field at least 5 women candidates on general seats. According to the 2016 report of Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency, women have been ranked among the top ten parliamentarians based on their best performance. Enacting legislation on anti-harassment and eliminating gender discrimination is a commendable step indeed. Again, empowering of women in Pakistan is not an easy task. Many issues pop up in the way ranging from social issues to stereotypes mentality and descrimatory patriarchal social norms. Even in today’s modern era, you will find such people in Pakistan who are even against women education. They misconstrue that if women are educated, they can develop a backbone with a rebellious mentality. People with this ignorant mind-set fear that if women learn about their rights, it may threaten the social status of men. In a society where women’s education is not considered healthy, transitioning from a single-income family to a dual-income family will be more than a thorny journey. In our society, the role of women is recognized exclusively as a ‘home maker’ woman, and due to this frame of mind, their entry into the job market is not looked upon with dignity. Here the government responsibility begins to encourage women as skilled workforce. To achieve this goal, it would be better to design and implement effective programs and policies in collaboration with international organizations. Through such initiatives, women will be able to play an active role in the development of the country. The government should improve the enforcement of existing laws. In order to create opportunities for women, it is imperative that the government to invest the education and health sectors for a prosperous country.