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Women Entrepreneurship in Pakistan’s Economy

If you are a student and currently facing the blues of online learning, you will relate to the fact that our generation has gone crazy. We are all involved in a never ending race to success where entrepreneurship is the top pick for everyone. Most of the people around us have taken the route to entrepreneurship. They have provided solutions to problems, some of which we did not even know exist.

Now I want you to look closely at your circle, count the entrepreneurs you know and then see the ratio of women entrepreneurs. Despite the fact that we all belong to respectful institutions and are learning the same syllabi, we are still behind in women entrepreneurship. 

jehan ara
nest i/o

In a state like Pakistan where women such as Jehan Ara- the software genius, Fiza Farhan – the energy mastermind  and the Late Sabin Mahmud – political activist exist we are still way behind in women entrepreneurship. The issue is not ‘what is wrong with women’ like it was in the 80’s. Now the discussion is ‘What is wrong with society?.’ If we have so much potential why is the employment rate of women just 4.3%?

Lack of support

In a country where even women drivers are a joke who is to say their business will be taken seriously? It takes guts to become a business woman when the basic right to education has to be fought for. However, when it comes to men it is a matter of pride to be called a businessman. 

Experts say that the overall need to achieve in women is very high in Pakistan. My personal experience dictates that women all around me are thriving to sustain themselves. For them it means self fulfillment, freedom and access to opportunities. Although, becoming an employer and working as an employee are two very different things. Women are certainly behind in leadership roles due to lack of support.

Financing women entrepreneurship 

To even open a bank account we women require our husbands or fathers details. Why? A study of the banking sector suggests women are not reliable customers. Hence it is considered absolutely necessary for a woman to be accompanied by a man. Furthermore, the State Bank of Pakistan showed that women receive 3% of small-medium business loans while the rest is acquired by men. Similarly, when it comes to microfinance loans women are only lent 13%  and the 87% goes to men. 

green plant on brown round coins

These stats clearly represent a huge gender gap when it comes to finance. Consequently, men are more open to the perception of entrepreneurship. Since they are well aware that they would have many avenues of finance for their startups etc.

Families and long lost relatives are more open to investing in their sons or brothers businesses apart from banks,. Look around in your family where fathers are open to become investors – with all their eggs in the same basket – with no hesitation for their son’s success.

Gender Roles

Running a business and being a part of a business are two different ball games. Running a business requires 24/7 dedication and availability. I am a university going student with a part time job. After hustling for 8 hours a day when I come back home I have to do the house chores no matter what while the men in the family relax after the same 8 hours.

The lack of awareness hence lies in the family and in the society as whole. A working woman should not be held responsible for household chores if a man  of the same household is not held accountable for it. Hence a balance is required where both the genders are given space to work to their full capacity with an equally divided burden of house chores.

In the end, it always comes down to removing gender roles and working together. The genders should not be against each other. The roles in a family are not the same as they were 50 years ago. It is 2020 and the outlook of the world is changing. It is about time that Pakistan comes out of the hole of gender roles. 

Why do we need women entrepreneurship?

A survey conducted by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 2018 reported that Pakistan can come out of its economic dump much faster with a GDP increase of 30% if women are empowered to contribute to the labor force. Goldman Sachs Bank recorded Pakistan can increase per capita income by 14% by 2020 and 20% by 2030 just by closing the gender gap. The Chief Executive of Goldman Sachs also stated – “We are disciplined in our investment, and when you get to the topic of trying to invest and create GDP, there is no better or more efficient investment — no lower hanging fruit in the world to pick — than the investment you make in women.” Hence it is not astonishing if we all collectively agree that the best capital to invest is in your women.

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Sakina Nayani

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