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Dear All,

I am sharing with you an article on Women and Entreprenuership in Pakistan take from Women entreprenuer information network : Source:http://www.win.org.pk/page.php?page_id=4

Status of Women in Pakistan

The business environment for women in Pakistan reflects the complex interplay of many factors, which fall into two basic categories. The first is made up of social, cultural, traditional and religious elements. This aspect of the environment has taken shape over many centuries; it is anchored in the patriarchal system and clearly manifested in the lower status of women. The gender bias of this type of system is rigid and deep-rooted as it draws legitimacy from the perpetuation of a traditional mind-set, established rituals and a firm belief system.

The second group of factors derives from the first group, taking the form of constitutional structures, policy doc**ents, regulatory arrangements and institutional mechanisms. This category is contemporary rather than traditional, so it is cosmetically impartial. The traditional systems pose difficulties for women in general and entrepreneurs in particular in two ways. First, they are inherently discriminatory; and second, they inhibit the equity-based composition of modern institutions and their fair working, as modern institutions are derived from traditional ones.

The social and cultural picture ? with slight variations according to geographical region and social class ? perpetuates a traditional patriarchal structure with compartmentalized gender roles. The stereotyped functions of reproduction and production assigned to women and men determine the overall ambiance of Pakistani society and also establish the status of both sexes. The reproductive role limits women to the home, where they bear children and raise the family, playing only an auxiliary part in production activity. The tradition of male honor associated with the chastity of their female relations restricts women?s mobility, limits social interaction and imposes a check on their economic activity. The social, cultural and traditional taboos on women allow men to carve legitimacy for themselves in public affairs, as well as in the sphere of production and related economic activity.

The modern institutional environment has a cosmetic tinge of equality and sometimes even discriminates positively in favour of women, but the underlying power of tradition and the vested interests of the patriarchal system work to maintain the status quo. The legal framework, the policy environment and the regulatory structures thus embed ? or are interpreted ? to discriminate against the economic activity of women. Article 25 of the Constitution of Pakistan (1973), for example, guarantees equality of rights to all citizens irrespective of sex, race and class and also empowers the government to take action to protect and promote women?s rights. But contemporary legislation covertly discriminates against women?s economic activity as producers and providers of services.

The policy and regulatory environments are cosmetically better as they sometimes positively discriminate in favour of women. The most recent example is the draft Labour Policy of the Government of Pakistan that pays lip service to female labour force issues without announcing any tangible steps to redress the problems of women workers. The regulatory environment does not generally discriminate against women, but even well-intentioned provisions can sometimes result in negative discrimination. An example would be the highly skewed labour structure of the apparel industry in Pakistan. Employment figures show that about 90% of workers in this sector are male. This is exactly opposite to the situation in other South Asian countries where 90% of workers in the apparel industry are women. The difference is explained by a labour regulation in Pakistan that restricts the employment of women after 7 p.m. Hence the long hours often required in this industry provide a disincentive to employ women. The problem is further compounded by the complex interplay of traditional and contemporary factors. The male head of a Pakistani family would not allow his female relations to work in a factory after sunset. The domestic responsibilities of women workers make it impossible for them to work long hours outside the home. Employers do not like to hire women who might ask for maternity leave/benefits. And last but not least, women trainees would not be welcome at all the production places where Ustad-Shagird is the predominant mode of apprenticeship.

The World Bank Country Gender Profile of Pakistan deplores the fact that the status of women in Pakistan is among the lowest in the world. UNDP (1996) describes the strong ?inside/outside? dichotomy in Pakistan, where women are restricted to the ?inside? space of home and household, embodied in the tradition of veiling. This restricts women's access to education, employment, training opportunities and social services.

The logical outcome of a gender-biased environment is the low status and weak bargaining position of women. The sex-disaggregated comparison of national statistics and comparative regional benchmarking indicate the disadvantaged position of women who try to start or run a business in Pakistan.

Global Labour Market: Percentage of Female Labour

  • In Europe, the activity rate of women in the labour market has increased in the last two decades.
  • In Denmark it is 46.9%.
  • In the Netherlands it increased from 24.2% in 1975 to 40.6% in 1993.
  • In the USA and Canada it grew from 37% and 32% respectively in 1970 to 45% in 1990.
  • In Pakistan it merely increased from 6.6% in 1968/69 to 13.6% in 1996/97.

Characteristics of Women Entrepreneurs
Women entrepreneurs in the developing world make a large and often unrecognized contribution to their countries' economic development. They employ other people, provide valuable services, and play a vital role in the development of emerging market economies worldwide. In the developing economies WEs are a diverse group ranging from those who manage large conglomerates to those who operate roadside restaurants.

Barriers, some real, some perceived and some self-imposed, confront women entrepreneurs. In the area of international business obstacles include limited international business experience, inadequate business education and lack of access to international networks. Societal, cultural and religious attitudes also impede women in business. Other challenges faced by all enterprises and women in particular are; financing, globalization of social and economic environments, marketing, and management. Transition economies can pose difficult hurdles such as banking, legal aspects, political contacts, customs tariffs, bureaucracy that daily invents new mechanisms for the simplest procedures, and extortion.

Characteristics reflected in research of women entrepreneurs show a woman who is highly motivated, initiates action and activity without direction, has a high internal locus of control, and propensity toward achievement. Women's decision processes indicate a highly personal, subjective process. Studies reveal that there are multiple general individual characteristics of women business owners that promote their creativity and generate new ideas and ways of doing things.

Challenges Faced by Women
In Pakistan, as in many other developing countries, women are handicapped in society. Therefore they face many challenges, as they do not enjoy the same opportunities as men. The segregation of the sexes starts early and becomes a way of life. They are not only deprived of financial resources but also lack access to basic needs such as education, health, clean drinking water and proper sanitation. Limited access to the essentials of life undermines their capabilities, limits their ability to secure gainful employment, and results in income, poverty and social exclusion. Their ambitions and aspirations are suppressed.

The crude activity rate (% of labor force in total population) for women in rural areas is 10.7% and 6.3% in urban areas) and the refined activity rate (% of labor force in population of persons having 10 years of age and above) is for women in rural areas is 16% and 8.8% in urban areas.Women businesses in Pakistan are typically characterized thus:

  • Most women-headed businesses operate from home, and financial matters are taken care of by male family members.
  • Women entrepreneurs are seen in subordinate roles; with low levels of education and technical skills; low exposure to business; lacking role models; lacking peer support and business associations; low incomes and poor investment capacity.

Gradually things are improving for women, which has been caused by their tremendous determination and courage. They are entering in the field of education, health, engineering, IT and active participation is seen in the sports and politics arena. About 60% of women entrepreneurs in Pakistan have opted for traditional business such as parlors, bakeries, boutiques, but the largest number is employed in the garments and handicrafts sector. In general, urban women are better placed in terms of accessing information than those operating in the rural areas.

However, improvements need to be realized in the rural areas where women still lag behind due to the lack of awareness to engage themselves in other activities. In rural areas even where top positions are filled by women entrepreneurs most of the opportunities are diverted towards enhancing the skills of men. Women are essentially performing house-hold chores and helping their family in the fields. This hampers their growth, as there is no time due to domestic chores taking precedence over anything else. Many women are learning skills such as embroidery, sewing, knitting for income generation, but lack conducive environment to embark on such a journey of developing their career. This is because of the restrictions placed on them by the society which does not allow them to receive formal training and to enter the market place. They not only lack the financial resources but also lack awareness for facilities available to develop their skills.

However, economic necessity is forcing more and more women to engage in some sort of employment, without relieving them of their traditional roles. There is a potential envisaged to develop the handicrafts sector and create income generation measures for these women as they possess the talents and aptitude for entrepreneurial development.

Some of the basic problems a highlighted by various research studies undertaken by women entrepreneurs are:

  • Lack of information
  • Lack of Micro Financing Schemes
  • Lack of Skill Development
  • Lack of Entrepreneurship/Business Skills
  • Lack of Marketing Facilities
  • Lack of Product Designs
  • Lack of Networking and Trust Building
  • Expensive Raw Material
  • Low Quality Control
  • Non-Conducive Working Environment

Nurturing an individual's, natural spirit of entrepreneurship is a powerful key to economic development. Therefore realizing the vast potential that women entrepreneurs posses and translating this potential into profits is imperative. Supporting businesses with strong associations can strengthen the structural adjustment reforms that are part of the current international wave of decentralization, which is grounded in the belief that promoting private businesses is key to growth.

There is great potential in the Women Entrepreneurship sector. Their development can only lead to greater economic growth.

Views: 177

Comment by sunnydupree on May 2, 2010 at 8:58pm
This is a very excellent paper! Very impressed with subject matter and writing style!


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