Making the Women Self-Employed/Self-Empowered by Zafar, Fatima
I am thankful to world Pulse that this time they motivated to share my vision that was placed somewhere in the dark corner of my heart from many years.
What I feel and observed, the process of globalization has caused an increasing inequality in employment opportunities and incomes. Economic opportunities created by globalization are highly unequal. Those better endowed, with more access to skills, to markets, and with more resources or better links internationally have been able to benefit. For home based women workers however, the quality of employment remains poor, without opportunities for skill development and moving up the ladder, and with very low-income returns. The increasing lack of formal employment opportunities forces many workers to take up self-employed work, often at or from the home.
Available evidence from around the world suggests that: women are more likely than men to work mainly at home. In Bangladesh, 71% of all women workers are home based, in contrast to only 20% of all male workers who are home based. In Pakistan, 65% of all women workers are home based, in contrast to only 4% of all male workers who are home based. In India, 51% of all women workers are home based as against 11% of all male workers who are home based. Among home based workers women are far more likely than men to be engaged in low-paid manual work; women home based workers are among the lowest paid workers in the world.
Unlike many developing countries, in Pakistan bringing women into the mainstream economic activity has been challenging. A country with estimated population of 172,800,000, over 50% of which are women, Pakistan has only 3% of women engaged in economic activities, according to Federal Bureau of Statistics estimates, however, the recent World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report ranked Pakistan 128th out of 130 countries, followed by Saudi Arabia, Chad and Yemen.
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.
As a matter of fact, in Southern Punjab, women do more and work harder than men to earn and provide livelihood to their families, they almost all drudgery that a man does. Apart from doing non-market work: up-bringing their children and cooking, women also do work like embroidery, tailoring, make; mat, van, hand-fans, Changairs from palm leaves or Pheesh, Azarband, Rilly, mines excavation, stone and Multani Matti loading, harvest own and other agriculture crops like wheat and cotton, etc. for increasing their family income. Their other usual non-market and market responsibilities included fetching water, rearing livestock / animals, cutting - bringing grass/fodder for livestock, grinding wheat and collecting fuel-wood, Peelu and Paneer for household and selling purpose. Women are excelled in making crafts like Khondi, sheep/goat's hair made rope-sack called Sehly and camel saddle called Pulhaan, which are highly in demand among local and even in Afghanistan. Women also do other menial labour work like breaking roads and stones to earn livelihood (Bread for Survival, A study by Awaz CDS).
My Vision is to support such home-based workers. Some of the basic problems a highlighted by various research studies undertaken by women entrepreneurs are:
• Lack of information
• Lack of Micro Financing Facilities
• Lack of Skill Development
• Lack of Entrepreneurship/Business Skills
• Lack of Marketing Facilities
• Lack of Product Designs
• Lack of Networking
• Expensive Raw Material
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.
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 a key to growth. There is great potential in the Women Entrepreneurship sector.
I can motivate such workers to join world pulse. I can empower them with their own narratives and if they are not literate then I can by myself even write for them for online communities like world pulse and this way I can get support for them. I will share their problems and can get solutions. In this way I can be able to empower them with the feeling that they are not alone!!!