By FAIZAN ALI WARRAICH
LAHORE – Pakistan has become the 4th largest county using the Freelancer.com website internationally and out of over 23 million users worldwide, over 860,000 registered users on website come from Pakistan.
Although there’s no data on how many women out of the total number of users, it shows that the rising trend of freelancing is opening new opportunities for these thousands of women who need additional income, or a more flexible way of working to suit their different lifestyles including being able to do the works while still taking care of their family.
The website’s country manager for Pakistan, Helma Kusuma, who is also a country manager for Indonesia, Malaysia, India and Bangladesh, says Freelancer is a crowdsourcing marketplace website.
“Becoming a gig worker on Freelancer can transform the life of a skilled woman worker with access to millions of employers from all over the world who, on a daily basis, are posting thousands of jobs across hundreds of different fields and industries,” she told The Nation.
“With Pakistani women’s diverse lifestyles, freelancing is becoming an obvious option to cater to their needs. Freelancer also allows women entrepreneurs to look for reliable, highquality freelancers who can help them establish their own businesses,” she added.
Kusuma suggested that Pakistani women should start with small freelance projects first as a start and they will still be able to do it while taking care of their family. “Learn how to master a good time-management between family and the project deadline. If being a freelancer is already at ease, try to build a business,” she maintained.
According to the World Bank, the women participation rate in the work force of Pakistan is 24% in 2014. Pakistan’s female population is estimated to be 48.65 per cent of the total, the majority of which lives in the country’s rural areas.
The opportunities for women in rural areas are less than the ones in the urban centers. Labour Force Statistics (LFS) report in 2012-2013 said that out of the estimated 180 million people, only 12.51 million Pakistani females of various ages are in employment.
According to Helma Kusuma, the culture in Pakistan makes it harder for women because they have ‘double-burden’ in society. “They can work but are also perceived to have the main responsibility of caring for the family at home. Professional women are forced to prioritise because the expectation that they are responsible for the family unit is deep-rooted in most of Pakistani society. The consequences of such expectations, however, are more keenly felt where there are fewer opportunities,” she explained.
She recommended if women of Pakistan needed additional income, they would try to do something in their spare time to make money but it was quite difficult because there were not many opportunities and options either for staying-at-home moms.
“Technology has started playing a huge role in disrupting businesses. The key benefit of the digital economy is that it allows and encourages remote working, where gender may not matter as much as in the physical economy.”