The Other Fifty Percent

Social media is full of women empowerment, equality, justice and long feminist marches which have posters and slogans which become the core ingredient in the meme making, it seems that all of the women empowerment is limited to social media only. What steps has the Pakistani government taken to ensure that women play an active role besides men in the economy and workplace? Unlike men, for women to get an education and “work” is considered a privilege. Men will come home, with everything done and dusted with food on the table and kids neatly dressed with their homework done. As for women, they will come back, after a long hard day and do the cooking, cleaning and washing, and if she doesn’t then suddenly she is a bad terrible woman who only cares about making money.

Doctors who have small kids and have night duties often install CCTV cameras in their houses to keep a check on their maids, but still they are never satisfied as the “motherly instinct” still gives them a gut wrenching feeling that their baby is all alone. Sadly in Pakistan, there have been no such steps taken to ensure women to become equal participants in the workplace. Many employers and companies put up the “We employ equally without discriminating on gender” but that’s clearly not enough. There needs to be an environment created for women to fully participate in the workforce. In western countries, women are facilitated by having flexible timings, work from home option, and even daycare centres at their workplace.

But here in Pakistan, besides a very few number of companies there is no concept of “daycare centres” and even flexible working hours, hence leaving women with only two options, medicine and teaching. (Also known as “the jobs which are good for women”). In western countries, it is against the law to have an affair with anyone in the same workplace and harassment is considered a crime but here, there is no concept of “workplace” protection for women. If women are constantly harassed by their colleagues and bosses, without any check and balance, obviously they will simply leave their job. And it’s sad that in t he South Asian region, even schools and universities are not safe from harassment.

A recent survey conducted to check what kind of work do women prefer who had kids and a home to take care of. Majority of them preferred to do part time jobs.

How much are the companies, organisations and workplaces in Pakistan willing to change themselves to accommodate the other 50 percent who is equally educated but is bitterly ignored? Only time will tell.

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