An agreement on women’s entrepreneurship and economic empowerment was signed on Saturday between the US Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Catherine Russell, and Pakistan’s Additional Secretary of Commerce, Robina Ather. The meeting brought to light the pertinent issue of economic liberation of females in Pakistan. The agreement has taken into consideration key aspects of women’s role in the economy, and it aims to aspire to promote linkages between female entrepreneurs working in the two countries. Even though the present administration should be applauded for taking a much-needed initiative in this regard, it is to be noted that many more miles still need to be covered to expand the current female contribution to Pakistani economy. The shambolic economic structure that prevails in the country immediately calls for reforms to encourage a significant increase in entrepreneurial activity. Such steps should aim at the inclusion of female groups into economic folds. In addition to enabling them to participate in the country’s development, these programmes will also equip the marginalised Pakistani women with the necessary tools for their financial independence and self-reliance.
Nevertheless, this liberation will continue to remain a distant dream unless the giant issues of health and economic problems are eliminated. In order to successfully empower women, government first needs to introduce policies that help in the provision of credit facilities to prospective business owners. The much-proclaimed success of the Benazir Income Support Programme, introduced by the last federal government, can be replicated at both provincial and federal levels across the country to help provide financial assistance to female entrepreneurs. Although initiatives like Sana’atzaar and CARE have long been established by both governmental and non-governmental organisations to better equip its students with financial and business skills, the available structure still needs to be improved to ensure provision of modern vocational training opportunities.
Furthermore, the development of human force required to set forth an active participation in economic endeavours should also include encouragement of female education. Not only would a renewed education policy help them better prepare for the competitive markets worldwide, female schooling can also help undermine the custom of early marriages prevalent in the Pakistani society. In addition to uplifting the health status of women, especially in the rural areas, the delay in their child-bearing age could also curb the issue of overpopulation. Moreover, widespread discrimination that businesswomen often suffer at their workplaces also needs to be addressed on an immediate basis. If government strives towards securing safe employment opportunities for women, Pakistan can greatly enhance its chances of securing a more economically viable future.