The women-led not-for-profit tech startup, Circle, has announced its partnership with the L’Oréal Fund for Women to support its mission to enable women in vulnerable situations through digital literacy and entrepreneurial skills.
The online population in Pakistan is rapidly increasing by 36% with 70+ million active social media users today, however, the country faces a growing gender digital divide with more women lacking the opportunities to learn and leverage digital tools that could uplift their livelihoods.
Pakistan also has one of the lowest female labor force participation rates in the world at 25%, with 8% of women engaged in micro-businesses which became vulnerable in the face of COVID-19, which has exacerbated existing inequalities, affecting women socially and economically at a disproportionate level as well as increased cases of domestic abuse.
To address this gender equity challenge Circle’s new Digital Literacy Program aims at accelerating and scaling up digital literacy training for 5,000 Pakistani women.
Over 350 women graduates from the pilot Digital Literacy Program have gone on to start their micro-businesses online, with a reported increase of PKR 5,000 to PKR 20,000 in their monthly earnings.
Women’s economic empowerment is central to realizing women’s rights and gender equality. Studies have shown that when a woman is economically empowered, the entire family and community witness a positive impact.
Circle founder, Sadaffe Abid, said, “Women in Pakistan are 49% less likely to use mobile internet and 94% less likely to own a mobile money account (GSMA). Access to the internet and basic digital literacy is a human right. Ensuring women’s access to digital platforms, mobile wallets for business, and information exchange can greatly enable their economic empowerment and social wellbeing.”
“The Digital Literacy Program was designed and piloted under the pandemic with the support of UN Women. Through the L’Oréal Fund for Women and with the support of L’Oréal Pakistan, Circle will scale up the innovative digital literacy program to 5,000 low-income women while amplifying its impact on families and communities across the country,” she added.
Commenting on this partnership, L’Oréal Pakistan’s Managing Director, Junaid Murtaza, stated, “We create beauty that moves the world; towards a world that is equitable, diverse, and inclusive, and one that empowers women to realize their full potential. To this end, L’Oréal is always looking for opportunities where we can make a difference in the lives of women.”
“Pakistan is one of the global emerging economies and women’s participation is vital to driving growth and innovation. With women representing only 25% of the labor workforce and 1% of entrepreneurship, we would like to lend our support to the empowerment of many more women,” he added.
“This partnership with CIRCLE will enable women from less privileged backgrounds to gain access to the digital world, helping them with their everyday needs such as education, legal rights, health care, and childcare while also acquiring skills that are an integral part of the digital economy and earning livelihoods,” Junaid further stated.
L’Oréal Pakistan’s goal with this partnership is to empower women from low-income families with digital literacy and basic financial skills to help them to fight poverty, achieve social and professional integration and protect themselves from potential harm as a consequence of inequities.
Furthermore, this program offers the opportunity to build connections among their community of women and with other organizations that can support them in their entrepreneurial ventures.
The partnership between Circle and L’Oréal Fund for Women will be covering multiple Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations, particularly SDG 5 (Gender Equality), SDG 8 (Inclusive Economic Growth), and SDG 17 (Partnerships).
For more information, visit Circle’s website.