As we launch next month into our next group of trainings in Pakistan, I want to share a little on why we do what we do.
According to the recent Global Entrepreneurship Monitor report only 1% of Pakistani women are engaged in entrepreneurship, which is the lowest proportion in the world.
We know, according to the 2012 World Development Report, women earn less and are less economically productive than men almost everywhere across the world. Women now account for more than 40% of workers worldwide yet they are more likely than men to work as unpaid family laborers or in the informal sector, operating smaller businesses in less lucrative sectors. Women’s economic participation and their ownership and control of productive assets speeds up development, helps overcome poverty, reduces inequalities, and even improves children’s nutrition, school attendance, and health.
Women in Pakistan lack in resources and opportunity, but it becomes blatantly clear that in order for women to participate in the economy, they must be empowered in the family and community life as well.
According to the Lahore Journal of Economics, a majority of the women trained in courses like ours will become wage earners and by equipping these women with knowledge and skills we can help them move out of that place of desperation that leads to marrying children off early, extremist recruitment, extreme poverty, etc. Our goal is to equip them to become employable and have life-long financial independence and we believe that two crucial parts; rights and skill development are the first steps to putting them on this path.
During our trainings with the women we educate them on their rights. There is a big difference between skilled and unskilled labor and being taken advantage of. If a woman enters a workplace with no skills, no knowledge of her rights she will get exploited. But once she knows her rights and brings a skill to the table she moves from a place of powerless to powerful. She knows how to demand a fair wage and knows her worth. This also applies to women in the marketplace who run their own businesses. They know their right to the money made on their goods, how much their items are worth and how to negotiate a fair price.
Without women in the workforce Pakistan will never make large gains economically. The national economy is basically leaning only on half the population and there is a whole population left out; the women. An investment in human capital is always a worthwhile strategy and especially when it involves women who are completely left out of the workforce otherwise.
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