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Women participation: a challenge for employment in Pakistan

While a colossal 77 percent of both men and women participate in the labour force in Vietnam, women participation rate in Pakistan is a skimpy 28 percent. Gender differences in employment are striking worldwide where less than half of women have jobs while men dominate the job market by all means.

The World Development Report 2013 is all about jobs and highlights gender and age disparities very vividly: Worldwide where 80 percent of men are working, less than 50 percent of women have jobs.

Besides these austere disparities in labour force participation in many developing economies and low income countries, women continue to earn significantly less than their male counterparts regardless of equal experience and education. Wage employment is a much lower share of total employment among women according to the latest World Bank report.

This cannot be dodged as it is amongst the key concerns for not only countries like Pakistan where women to men participation is highly skewed towards the latter, but also for countries like Tanzania and Vietnam with high men and women participation rates as women wage employment still lags behind.

The burgeoning youth population is adding to the disparity. Beyond youth unemployment which has reached staggering height in many countries, a lot of the time the majority of the female youth neither at school not at work; are not looking for work. So unemployment is not always an issue for these developing and low income countries.

In a country like Pakistan, women continue to be underutilized in the labour market and the economy. With improvement in womens wage and salary employment a far cry, the latest statistics by Pakistan Bureau of Statistics reveal a murky situation: less than a quarter of all women are in a salaried position, deteriorating from one-third in the beginning of the decade.

Besides culture, industrialisation has also played a significant role in these wide gaps between men and women labour force participation. For women in the low – middle income countries like Pakistan, industrialisation has actually resulted in labour market vulnerabilities. Where working is not an option for majority of them, accepting volatile work conditions is the fate of those who choose to earn for a living.

As far as entrepreneurship is concerned, training for women also has varied results. The World Bank study focuses on the nurturing of female entrepreneurs to facilitate women employment and social well being. However, the dismal result of such trainings for women entrepreneurs in countries like Pakistan shows how they face constraints and lack access to learning.

Business Recorder