Importance of women to the economy

Neglecting women means wasting a valuable resource

Women in Pakistan comprise approximately 49 percent of its total population, but women in the labour force are hardly 20 percent. This data illustrates that it is one of many reasons that aren’t being addressed and taken seriously. In developed countries, women are considered a driving force of the economy, And they cannot imagine their economy being strengthened without the participation of women’s labour.

In developed countries, women struggle over the wage gap, equal representation in senior positions and flexibility in working hours. But in developing countries, specifically Pakistan, women are still fighting over their fundamental human rights, even the right to live, the right to education, and the right to freedom. These are a few basic rights women in our country are fighting over.

So, the concept of the gender wage gap and unevenness in representative positions is still hard to catch. Pakistan cannot boost its economic growth with 20 percent of women labour in the market. According to the World Economic Forum, Pakistan is the second worst country regarding gender inequality; the worst being Afghanistan.

Women in rural areas of Pakistan mostly work in the agricultural farms that their families inherit, and they are not paid for their labour. Women tend to work two times more than men on domestic work. If women get paid for domestic work around the globe, they can add 10-40 percent growth to the global GDP. There should be more opportunities for women in every sector, especially in politics. Women’s participation in politics can help more women to fight against the patriarchy. Women in politics or the policy-making offices can bring change by creating more opportunities for women to work. They can maintain checks and balances on policies that can provide a safe environment for women in our society. When Pervez Musharraf increased the quota for women in politics, Pakistan improved its position in the Gender Gap index. To counter inequality, we need more women in every sector.

If we systematically increase the number of women in the working sectors, it will boost our economy in many ways. Women play a major role in boosting economic growth and curtailing the country’s poverty rate. For example, according to the report of the World Bank, in Latin America, women played an important role in diminishing poverty estimation, with a 30 percent decline in the poverty rate in 8-10 years.

The wage gap is interlinked with education and extraordinary skills; the state has to build more educational institutions to increase the literacy rate, which will help obliterate this huge wage gap. If women are paid equally as men, it not only ends inequality in the working sectors but also encourages more women to get a job.

Gender equality causes windfalls in countries by promoting socioeconomic opportunities for women and transgender people. It gives sustainability to society and the environment. It helps in welcoming more innovations, and it also encourages the tech centre of the country. Many women promote businesses that add value to the country’s economic growth. Women’s role in economic development is not only limited to the country’s economy, but it is another way to empower women individually. It makes them independent; it allows them to control their freedom and express their opinions. In Third World countries expressing opinions and being respected for their views would be a new phenomenon.

Women in the economic sector, specifically in business organisations, are helpful for companies to grow effectively. Women in business sectors in senior administration positions perform exceptionally, and it helps companies to grow promptly as compared to the patriarchal pre-eminence companies. In Pakistan, with an inflation rate of 9.50 percent, two household incomes can solve many crises. It can help educate children and procure better healthcare facilities and easy access to good food. These basic and vital issues can be solved easily if women also become breadwinners of the house.

In conservative-culture countries like Pakistan, it is not easy to change society’s benchmarks in a blink. In Pakistan, around 23 million children are out of school and around half of the 12 million girls are out. It is a startling situation and a point to rethink priorities. We cannot produce economists, business people, engineers, doctors, tech giants, etcetera, that can compete with other countries or enhance the country’s economic growth with these prevailing numbers.

It is the priority of the state to take societies in confidence about the benefits of education, especially girls’ education. It is also important for communities to understand the importance of education, which is necessary and will be more important in the coming time. With proper educational opportunities, women can learn skills, and they can become the labour force of the country.

Harassment at workplaces is another challenge constraining families from sending their women to do work equally to men. At workplaces, there should be rigorous policies for harassment, and there should be easy access for women to utilise those committees where they can freely address their issues and problems. The state should initiate easily convenient pick-and-drop service buses for women. There should be beneficial women’s help centres in every city that ensure women’s safety and support them in case of any harassment or domestic abuse.

We learned from covid-19 that we could easily work with flexible timing, and flexibility in time is important for women. Companies and organisations must ensure flexible timings for women to work. In Pakistan, the wage gap is around 34 percent which is greater than in other countries. Wage gap or inequality in working sectors causes trouble in financial growth and can de-Motivate women from working harder. More than half the population of women in Pakistan doesn’t attend school, and around 90 percent of women have only a secondary education, which is the major reason that creates a wage gap.

The wage gap is interlinked with education and extraordinary skills; the state has to build more educational institutions to increase the literacy rate, which will help obliterate this huge wage gap. If women are paid equally as men, it not only ends inequality in the working sectors but also encourages more women to get a job.

Usma Asghar
Usma Asghar
The writer is a freelance columnist

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