Peshawar: Women in Pakistan have made tremendous strides in opening their own business ventures. Even provinces like Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) have altered its way of looking at the combination of a workforce. Previously, working outside one’s home was considered a man’s forte; now women are equally engaged in getting their share of the pie.
Pakistan Bureau of Statistics has compiled data for the workforce trend in Pakistan for the year 2012-2013. The employment to population ratio for women in Pakistan during 2013 hovers around 22.1 percent, while in KP it has been 13.8 percent for women. The share of own-account workers in total employment of women in KP has been 20.6 percent while the participation of waged and salaried workers in total employment for women in KP has been 15.5 percent.
The trend of girls into sales and marketing has risen considerably across Pakistan; however, seeing it on the rise in KP is a delight. It speaks volume about the changing trend in a province known for its conservative approach towards women.
Sonia Batool had been working as a sales girl for the last ten years in Peshawar. Talking to NewsLens Pakistan, she said that in the beginning, she joined a local shopping centre as a sales girl on a monthly salary of Rs 8000, but now she owns her own cosmetic shop.
“I started my business from just Rs35, 000. Now the annual turnover has reached Rs one million. I am looking after the financial needs of my entire family. Working women, especially those running their own businesses, have to face multiple constraints in a society like ours. On the one hand, a taboo is still attached to the idea of woman stepping out of her home to earn livelihood, on the other, the security situation has of late given our families more reason and excuse to keep us locked,” Sonia said.
Fifty-year Old Mumtaz Tehniat is a staunch believer of the fact that if a woman is determined to do something then no hurdle can block her way. She had worked as a sales person in a local shopping mall for ten years besides adding to her income by stitching clothes at home for private customers. Her husband is a cancer patient, making her the only bread earner for the family consisting of herself and one daughter. Now she is running her own shop, where she sells toys and other stuff for kids.
Naseem Riaz, a member of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Women Chamber of Commerce and Industries tells NewsLens Pakistan that around 300 women are members of the chamber and each one of them has their own business.
Riaz herself trains women on jewellery making. More than 300 of her students have started their own business at a small level in their homes. The National Institute of Folks and Traditional Heritage famously called Lok Virsa Islamabad, employs one of her students, as a trainer in jewellery making and design. Besides owning a shop, she has been selling her work at different international exhibitions held in Dubai, Vietnam and Thailand.
“Women are doing their best to counter hurdles; however, the government should also lend us assistance in the form of interest-free loans and by relaxing the conditions to borrowing loan. In spite of terrorism and militancy, women in Peshawar have not given up their businesses. In fact, more women are entering into entrepreneurial activities.
Pakistan Tahreek-e-Insaaf Peshawar women wing President Rabia Basri, says that the KP government will soon announce special packages to facilitate women in business. She informed that the government is in contact with the Khyber Bank and will soon announce interest-free loans for women in KP.
Women comprise 50 percent of Pakistan’s population. If even half of these women participate in economic activities, not only the financial position of most of them would improve, the country would also leap into a prosperous future in a relatively short time. Every developed country has used the same formula to progress and the result is before us.