Women in Pakistan make up 52% on average of the total population. As a reality, no nation can progress in terms of economic development until it has kept its women empowerment into consideration. In Pakistan however, female population in majority is facing a deluge of difficulties in their way to participate in economic development of the Country. Such difficulties emerge mainly because of higher illiteracy rate particularly in case of women belonging to rural areas which in turn is indebted to the traditional and narrow mindedness of the People of Pakistan. By virtue of such difficulties in getting themselves empowered, most talented women in the rural areas of Pakistan and a considerable population in the urban areas is forced to work from home and that too in case where they are the only earning hands of the family. In such cases, they are confined to tasks such as stitching from home or to make elegant designs of handicrafts in the urban and rural areas of the country respectively. These women are mostly hired on contract basis by the local industries which pay them less and earn from their hard work more from the international market. In rural areas where literacy rate is inconsequential particularly in case of women, it usually makes no difference to them as they only work so hard just to earn a livelihood. But in urban areas, where women are now gaining more education and exposure to the outer World, this situation is quite discouraging. So, the concept of women entrepreneurship has transpired and has gained popularity among young girls. Female youth population of Pakistan is currently inspired from some notorious names in this field such as Fiza Farhan, a 28 years old young entrepreneur who is a co-founder of Buksh Foundation, an institution that has enlighten the under privileged rural areas of Pakistan with solar power since 2009. Jehan Ara, founder of Pakistan Software Houses Associations. Nabila Maqsood who started her first salon in 1986 in Karachi and has now opened a lot of chain branches all across Pakistan. She is now a great name in the filed of Fashion Industry. Roshaneh Zafar, who laid the basis for Kashf foundation, an organization that provides financial support to Women working in rural areas. Sana and Safinaz who started working from a townhouse and have now expanded their business of bridal couture all across the World. Farida Qureshi, who is regarded as the mainstream fashion designer of Pakistan. Mrs. Seema Tahir Khan, who is now heading well known TV Channels like TV-ONE, News-ONE and WASAIB TV as CEO and Momina Duraid who is CEO of Moomal Productions, one of HUM TV’s production houses.
In the year 2006, the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) was established under a Presidential Ordinance and the purpose of this organization was to have a universal view of the World’s trade development. This Authority established a separate section with the name “Women Entrepreneur” to promote and facilitate Pakistani Women Exporters to meet international marketing standards. The section emphasizes to modernize and bring innovation in Pakistan’s export drive in order to meet the intensified competition in the international market. This section organized a series of exhibitions for handicrafts in major cities of Pakistan, a mentionable example is the one organized in the Expo center, Lahore, in the year 2010, thus rendering the talented women enable from rural areas of Pakistan to exhibit their products to international market.
A group of talented individuals who believed in women empowerment and their role in economic development of the Country have together build a platform of “Women Chamber of Commerce & Industry” (WCCI) in Lahore which has signed MOU with Centin, center for Entrepreneurship & Innovantion, UMT, Lahore. This organization has conducted useful meetings and seminars all across Pakistan to help women in the field of Entrepreneurship & Innovation. WCCI held “Organic kitchen Garden Training” on 11th January 2011. WCCI had a remarkable contribution in the field of women empowerment and entrepreneurship motivation in a way that it has established a proper degree awarding institution with the name of “Center for Entrepreneurship Development” with the prime objective to motivate and strengthen Pakistani Entrepreneurs. The institute trains women on how to start their own business through Research, Consultancy and Education. Recently a 14-member delegation of WCCI called upon the honorable President of Pakistan Mr. Mamnoon Hussain on 24th January 2017 and had a prolific meeting with the President on very important agenda items such as, allocation of loans for women entrepreneurs by TDAP, the idea of working from home for women, the thought of flexible working hours for them, endowing of National Achievement Award for women and similar.
Earlier in October 2015, Pakistan’s first-ever 8-member women delegation visited Sichuan Chamber of Commerce for footwear exports and imports in Chengdu. The delegation comprised of leading working women from Pakistan and they were told that Chengdu is top ranked for women shoes export in Western China.
Around April 2017 WCCI had sent 10-member Pakistani women entrepreneurs for a thorough understanding of European market, ascertaining the fact that EU is the Pakistan’s imperative and influential trading partner accommodating about 23.7% of total Pakistani trade. WCCI has its roots all across major cities of Pakistan.
Nonetheless, it is no doubt a bitter reality that though WCCI is promoting women in entrepreneurship but there are only 12 WCCIs across Pakistan and the number is minimal. Women of rural areas of Pakistan despite of having all the skills and motivation for business, are kept in a hostage of earning a livelihood rather than starting their own set-ups. Contrarily, women from Urban areas and developed cities of Pakistan too are facing socio-economic challenges in their way to start their own business. Government of Pakistan had started a few eminent programs in this respect such as “Prime Minister’s Youth Loan Scheme” and “Benazir Waseela e Haq Program” for women but these initiatives are also highly criticized for their drawbacks being the requirement of guarantor and much more. So, a comprehensive research is required for cogency of these programs. Conspicuously, the current situation of export in Pakistan is overall slumping on account of electricity, gas and other energy crisis in Pakistan which eventually is becoming the fundamental reason of under privileged home-based business set-ups for majority of Pakistani women exporters.
It can be concluded on the basis of aforementioned background that Pakistani women have a lot of potential to work as independent stakeholders in the export business and can prove to be a backbone in the developing economic prosperity of the Country provided they are well supported both at Government level and at society’s level via conducting educational seminars particularly in the under developed rural regions of the Country.