Unfolding the Potential of Women in Pakistan’s Workforce

By Pouru Sidhwa

Women make up nearly half of the world’s population.

In Pakistan too, they constitute more than 48% of all people in the country. Their roles are diverse, not just in shaping societies but also in driving the national economy. The female segment of the population is increasingly becoming integral in various roles and is driving exceptional proficiencies within organizations.

However, the path is nowhere near smooth for women who aspire to become part of the corporate world. According to stats available from the World Bank, the participation of women in the workforce of Pakistan stands at 20.53% as of 2020. Given that they make up half of the population, this is a relatively small chunk.

Women face a lot of hurdles when pursuing professional responsibilities whether they want to start their own business or rise to a senior position within an established entity. These issues range from societal pressure to lack of opportunities altogether.

A report was recently published by McKinsey which highlighted the potential that women bring to an organization. It underlined that organizations are ignoring a significant talent pool that can add enormous value to their operational ecosystem.

The research showcased that companies that rank within the top quartile for gender diversity report that they are 21% more likely to outperform on profitability. They are also 27% more likely to showcase superior value creation.

Thankfully, a lot has changed over the years within Pakistan. A lot more women are taking leadership roles in many organizations, however, there is still a long way to go.

In order to recognize and address the challenges faced by working women, 22nd December, the national day for working women holds a lot of importance. As a nation, we mark this day to acknowledge thousands of women across Pakistan, working hard in a diverse range of professions.

From rural entrepreneurs to corporate leaders, our women are overcoming extensive hurdles and still making a mark for themselves in society and the national economy.

In light of National Working Women’s Day, it is imperative for all of us to come together and play our role in empowering women.

Organizations today can create a more conducive environment for women, not just to be more productive but also to provide them with a clear trajectory to rise to senior positions. Steps in this regard can include giving women diverse opportunities at the workplace, reducing pay disparities, and ensuring work-life balance for them.

Companies and society, in general, need to step up their collective efforts if we are to witness a sustainable change with respect to women in the labor force. Together, key stakeholders can create new avenues for working women to realize their full potential while allowing them to uplift the economy and society as a whole.

Pouruchisty Sidhwa is the Chief Human Resources Officer at Telenor Microfinance Bank Limited. She is an experienced professional with over 30 years of experience in diversified industries such as banking, manufacturing, pharmaceutical, FMCG, retail, and textile. In the financial sector, she has experience working in areas such as Credit, Risk, Finance, and Human Resources.