Half of Pakistan’s population comprises of women, with many of them capable of being breadwinners for their families. Given this fact, it is prudent for Pakistan and its officialdom to make all out efforts towards empowering women and granting them a bigger say in the country’s labor market.
These observations were made by the World Bank’s representative to Pakistan recently. Many of our regional peers have already left Pakistan far behind in economic growth. In order to reform the energy sector in the country and keep the growth rate rising, it is imperative that Pakistan takes steps for inclusion of women for achieving national prosperity.
The World Bank expects Pakistan’s economy to expand by 4.5 percent in 2016, missing the government’s 5.5 percent target and trailing behind other South Asian nations where growth is expected to average about 7 percent this year.
In a country of 190 million people, the World Bank sees growth rising to 4.8 percent in Pakistan for 2017. This figure should at least be at 6 percent in order to absorb the entry of new workers into the labor market and help keep unemployment levels low.
Illango Patchamuthu, Country Director of World Bank
According to Illango Patchamuthu, country director of WB, the collapse of oil prices and tough fiscal measures by the government has helped stabilize the economy.
But there is a lot more to be done according to Mr. Patchamuthu. He urged the government to introduce reforms faster in the country’s energy sector, and one way of doing this is to attract women to the labor force. He also called for tackling the circular debt issue that currently stands at $3 billion.
“If Pakistan wants to get to 7-8 percent (growth) with structural reforms, they also have to much more in drawing women into the labour force. – Illango Patchamuthu
In 2014, Pakistan was ranked as the second worst nation in the world for gender equality after Yemen, as per the Global Gender Gap Report published by the World Economic Forum. Mr. Patchamuthu hopes that many social and cultural challenges can be tackled if women are skilled and trained, and also given the right opportunities. The advantages to Pakistan are immense.