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The Working Women of Pakistan

Traditionally, being a highly male dominant society, the working woman may raise eyebrows in the Pakistani society. No doubt the journey of a career oriented woman in Pakistan is filled with numerous struggles and adversities. However, there is no question that these women have a come a long way since several decades ago, and have evolved with tremendous success.

Here are some facts and figures on the inside story of a Pakistani working woman:

Increase in women participation:

The World Development Report 2012 reveals that the female participation in the work force of Pakistan is a mere 28%. Compared to other countries, such as Vetinam where the percentage of females in the workplace is 77%, this figure may be a disgrace for some. However, on the positive side, The 2011 Pakistan Employment Trends Report compiled by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, says that the percentage of working women in Pakistan has increased from 16.3% in 2000 to 24.4% in 2011. This means that an additional 7 million female workers have joined the workforce in a period of 11 years!

Although Pakistani women still have a long way to go, we view this is as progress and a major milestone for the country. Thumbs up to the working women of Pakistan!

Gender Wage Gap:
Pakistan ranks 66 out of 75 countries where women face a stubborn wage gap in their earnings compared to men (Human Development Report, 2006). Numerous other sources confirm that the issue of gender pay gap has been persistent in the country since decades. Siddique et al (2006), Nasir and Nazli (2000), Siddique et al (1998) and Ashraf and Ashraf (1993) all claim that female wages suffer significantly compared to men, even when they deliver the same amount of productivity at the workplace.

Hijabi’s at the workplace:
Sadly, Hijab-clad women may often be victims to workplace discrimination in Pakistan. Pakistan being a Muslim state, ideally a Hijabi woman at the workplace should be considered as modest and bold. On the contrary, a Hijabi applying for a job position raises questions and doubts about her productivity in the interviewers mind and often times she may be rejected the position at the organization or firm. Other times, these women may also be subject to social awkwardness at the workplace.

A Hijab clad journalist reveals that when she applied for a job at a media agency, her interviewer observed her from head to toe and questioned if she would be able to fit in the firm’s “liberal” working environment.

Another woman who chooses to dress modestly, Farahnaz Moazzam reveals her side of the story: “People are more conscious and cautious when I am around. They laugh less and whisper more.”

Workplace Harassment:
A Thomson Reuters Foundation expert poll revealed that Pakistan is the third most dangerous country for women to reside in. And it may be no surprise in saying that thousands of Pakistani women are victims of workplace harassment on a daily basis.

The fourth Asian CPA conference estimates that 90% of women working women are harassed from home to office or at their work. The exact figure cannot be estimated, claims Ambreen who is a psychologist at Bedari for victims of harassment, as most women do not report such cases due to lack of awareness and accessibility or embarrassment. Even if an official complaint is launched, it may create more obstacles for the woman facing harassment.

Maheen Usmani from Dunya News says that reporting a complaint against her boss resulted in embarrassing rumors about herself and Maheen eventually being restricted from her own office.

Please note that harassment of any kind experienced at the workplace should be reported immediately!

Female Sale Persons:
Companies and brands in Pakistan now believe on the theory that female customers are more likely to buy their product if sold by a female salesperson and later return to their outlet owing to the more comfortable experience. Hence more and more companies are now investing their time and money to train their female staff to behave as professionals and guide customers in a more convenient and effective manner.

This trend has helped flourish numerous businesses. Shahida Tahir who is a shopkeeper in WBIC, Lahore shared her experience: “Women are likely to buy products if they are sold by women, which has increased revenues of the women’s business centre by 60%.”

If you are the owner of a business, brand or retail outlet, consider hiring an expert female salesperson to help increase sales and grow your business!

The working woman of Pakistan has yet to face many adversities and struggle to prove herself. Be it a competent employee, an influential leader or a successful entrepreneur there is nothing a Pakistani woman can’t achieve at the workplace. And it all starts at Register yourself today to start your career journey!

Compiled from:

Huffigton Post- Sexual Harassment in Pakistan
The Express Tribune- Social revolution: Rising economic power of Pakistani women
The Express Tribune- Women staff – a source of increasing sales for retail chains
The Express Tribune: CPA conference:- 90% of the time, women are harassed to work and at work Women represent 28pc of workforce


Written by HerCareer is a career community of women seeking consult, inspiration, and the tools needed to succeed in the workplace.