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Women represent 28pc of workforce

By: Mubarak Zeb Khan

ISLAMABAD: The participation rate for women in the workforce is only 28 per cent, placing Pakistan in the group of countries with low job creation rates.

The female participation in labour force, particularly in urban areas of Pakistan, is low as compared to even Vietnam, which has a rate of 77 pc, says Rachid Benmessaoud, World Bank Country Director for Pakistan. He was talking to newsmen at the inaugural session of the release of World Development Report here on Friday.

According to report, over 80pc of Pakistani women cited household duties as one of the reason for non-participation in labour force. Lack of education was another reason for their non-participation, the World Bank director said.

Jesko Hentschel, Sector Director, Human Development, South Asia, who is also co-author of the report, listed a number of studies which established that countries with more women participants in labour force contributed positively to development.

He said it had been observed that women spend more money on education, health of children as compared to male. This, he added, had an impact on development, clearly suggesting increasing participation of women in labour force.

Sector Manager, Social Protection and Labour, South Asia Region, Pablo Gottret pointed out three bottlenecks in creation of jobs in Pakistan. On demand side, he said shortage of electricity; governance issue and political instability are top three constraints in the creation of jobs in Pakistan.

While on supply side, Mr Gottret said there was mismatching of skills, malnutrition and low women participations in economic activities. The creation of jobs, according to Mr Hentschel, was a collective responsibility of the government ministries.

“Job creation is not the sole responsibility of the labour minister,” he pointed in response to a question that what will be a key message for a labour minister to create jobs in Pakistan.

According to the report, jobs are a cornerstone of development, with a dividend far beyond income alone. They are critical for reducing poverty, making cities work, and providing youth with alternatives to violence.

The report stresses the role of strong private sector led growth in creating jobs and outlines how jobs that do the most for development can spur a virtuous cycle. The report finds that poverty falls as people work their way out of hardship and as jobs empower women to invest more in their children.

A good job can change a person’s life, and the right jobs can transform entire societies.

Governments need to move jobs to centre stage to promote prosperity and fight poverty, says World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim in a written statement released by Islamabad-based World Bank office.

“It is critical that governments work well with the private sector, which accounts for 90pc of all jobs. Therefore, we need to find the best ways to help small firms and farms grow. Jobs equal hope. Jobs equal peace. Jobs can make fragile countries become stable,” Mr. Kim further said.

The report authors highlight how jobs with the greatest development payoffs are those that raise incomes, make cities function better, connect the economy to global markets, protect the environment, and give people a stake in their societies.

More than 3 billion people are working, but nearly half work in farming, small household enterprises, or in casual or seasonal day labour, where safety nets are modest or sometimes non-existent and earnings are often meagre.

The report advances a three-stage approach to help governments meet these objectives: First, solid fundamentals, including macroeconomic stability, an enabling business environment, human capital and the rule of law – have to be in place. Second, labour policies should not become an obstacle to job creation, they should also provide access to voice and social protection to the most vulnerable.

Third, governments should identify which jobs would do the most for development given their specific country context and remove or offset obstacles to private sector creation of such jobs.