Lahore’s working women fuel expensive brands boom | Pakistan Today

Lahore’s working women fuel expensive brands boom

A beautiful, perfectly coiffed model, draped with diamonds, shoots a sultry gaze from the cover of a large-format glossy in-room magazine at a luxury hotel chain in downtown Lahore. The cover line on the ad-packed issue screams “Wow! World of Women,” according to a report published in the Washington Post.
And with good reason: Economists say that in recent years, women have fuelled a retail boom in branded shopping, as they move from a traditional home-bound life into the working world.
“You can go into any shopping mall or any cafe and you will see young girls sitting, having lunch, chatting away,” said Rashid Amjad, vice chancellor at the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics in Islamabad.
In many urban centers, the days when girls were forced to abandon education and eschew employment in favor of remaining within the walls of their home seem to be on the decline.
Traditionally men bear the burden of sustaining the household and women are not required to contribute to the family budget, so for many middle-class women, their paychecks are entirely their own to spend — a boon for the newly booming retail industry.
“I can afford to spend whatever I like,” said lawyer Rabiya Bajwa, 37. “My income is roughly 20 percent more than what it was five years ago.” Bajwa does contribute to the household budget but her two-income family enjoys a comfortable “cushion” and she splurges on expensive designer clothes.
But this good fortune is not evenly distributed, said Hafiz Pasha, a noted economist at Beacon House National University, in Lahore. Pakistan, he said, is still far behind in terms of women’s economic contribution compared to other countries in the region.“This growth is witnessed in urban centers where middle-class working women are found,” Pasha said. “In rural areas although the participation of women in the economy is more than the urban centers, they are not well-paid and their share in the economy is much less.”
Although women have long been an underpaid and discriminated-against resource in the Pakistani workforce, they are coming into their own at a surprising rate. Since about 2002, Amjad said, the labor force participation by women, always traditionally low, has been rising.
Many men left agriculture jobs so work was being generated and women readily moved in. Now, somewhere between 28 percent and 36 percent of women work in Pakistan, Amjad said, but many work in home-based businesses so their numbers are not always easily discernible and frequently they are difficult to count.
Three retail store owners surveyed in Lahore said the majority of their clientele are working women, and they credited them for increasing their business.
“We started from a small store but now we have five outlets in various parts of the city,” said Hasan Ali, manager of Bareeze, a leading brand of women’s clothes. “We have been in the market for the last 10 years and roughly the business has expanded 40 percent in that period….There are those out there who don’t even ask the price, and pay.”
Rukhsana Anjum, 47, a senior instructor at Government College of Technology for women, said she earns about Rs 100,000 a month. “Gradually in the last five years I have become brand-conscious,” she said. “Today, definitely I spend more on my clothes and jewelry.”



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One Comment;

  1. Raja Ali said:

    Its really funny to see how these paindu women who get a well paid job wear Paki designer clothes.

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