Pakistan's Saadia Zahidi Leads World Economic Forum's Gender Parity Effort

Pakistan-born, Harvard-educated economist Ms. Saadia Zahidi, author of "50 Million Rising", is currently a member of the executive committee and the head of Education, Gender and Work at the World Economic Forum, Davos, Switzerland. She told Kai Ryssdal of APR Marketplace of her visit to a gas field in Pakistan with her geophysicist father where she met Nazia, a woman engineer who inspired her.

Saadia Zahidi
The "50 Million" in the title of her book refers to the 50 million Muslim women who have joined the work force over the last 15 years bringing the total number of working women in the Muslim world to about 155 million.

In her book, Saadia talks about her father being the first in his family to go to university. He believed in girls' education and career opportunities. She recalls him suggesting that "my sister could become a pilot because the Pakistan Air Force had just starting to train women. Another time he speculated that I could become a news anchor because Pakistan Television, the state-owned television network, had started recruiting more women".  Here's an excerpt of her book:

"This shift has not been limited to Pakistan. A quiet but powerful tsunami of working women has swept across the Muslim world. In all, 155 million women work in the Muslim world today, and fifty million of them--a full third--have joined the work force since the turn of the millennium alone, a formidable migration from home to work in the span of less than a generation".

Saadia Zahidi has devoted parts of her book to her experiences in Pakistan where she visited a McDonald's restaurant and found many women working there. A woman also named Saadia working at McDonald's restaurant in Rawalpindi is featured in the book. Here's an excerpt:

"For young women like Saadia, seeing their efforts rewarded in the workplace, just as they were in school and university, can be eye-opening and thrilling and lead them to become even more motivated to work. The independent income is an almost unexpected bonus. I asked Saadia how she spends her earnings and whether she saves. She gives 30 percent of her income to her parents, she said, and the rest she spends as she pleases: mostly on gifts to her parents, sisters, and friends as well as on lunches and dinners out with friends and gadgets like her cell phone—all new luxuries for her. She said that she has no interest in saving because her parents take care of housing and food, just as she expects her husband will do after she marries. So her disposable income is wholly hers to spend, allowing her to contribute to the household budget while also buying luxuries that were previously unimaginable for her parents, without adding a burden to them."

Challenging the stereotypes about Muslim women, Saadia cites an interesting statistic: In Saudi Arabia, out of all of the women that could be going to university, 50 percent are. And that is higher than in China, in India, in Mexico, in Brazil.

I wrote a post titled "Working Women Seeding a Silent Revolution in Pakistan" in 2011. It's reproduced below in full:

While Fareed Zakaria, Nick Kristoff and other talking heads are still stuck on the old stereotypes of Muslim women, the status of women in Muslim societies is rapidly changing, and there is a silent social revolution taking place with rising number of women joining the workforce and moving up the corporate ladder in Pakistan.



"More of them(women) than ever are finding employment, doing everything from pumping gasoline and serving burgers at McDonald’s to running major corporations", says a report in the latest edition of Businessweek magazine.



Beyond company or government employment, there are a number of NGOs focused on encouraging self-employment and entrepreneurship among Pakistani women by offering skills training and microfinancing. Kashf Foundation led by a woman CEO and BRAC are among such NGOs. They all report that the success and repayment rate among female borrowers is significantly higher than among male borrowers.



In rural Sindh, the PPP-led government is empowering women by granting over 212,864 acres of government-owned agriculture land to landless peasants in the province. Over half of the farm land being given is prime nehri (land irrigated by canals) farm land, and the rest being barani or rain-dependent. About 70 percent of the 5,800 beneficiaries of this gift are women. Other provincial governments, especially the Punjab government have also announced land allotment for women, for which initial surveys are underway, according to ActionAid Pakistan.



Both the public and private sectors are recruiting women in Pakistan's workplaces ranging from Pakistani military, civil service, schools, hospitals, media, advertising, retail, fashion industry, publicly traded companies, banks, technology companies, multinational corporations and NGOs, etc.



Here are some statistics and data that confirm the growth and promotion of women in Pakistan's labor pool:

1. A number of women have moved up into the executive positions, among them Unilever Foods CEO Fariyha Subhani, Engro Fertilizer CFO Naz Khan, Maheen Rahman CEO of IGI Funds and Roshaneh Zafar Founder and CEO of Kashf Foundation.

2. Women now make up 4.6% of board members of Pakistani companies, a tad lower than the 4.7% average in emerging Asia, but higher than 1% in South Korea, 4.1% in India and Indonesia, and 4.2% in Malaysia, according to a February 2011 report on women in the boardrooms.

3. Female employment at KFC in Pakistan has risen 125 percent in the past five years, according to a report in the NY Times.

4. The number of women working at McDonald’s restaurants and the supermarket behemoth Makro has quadrupled since 2006.



5. There are now women taxi drivers in Pakistan. Best known among them is Zahida Kazmi described by the BBC as "clearly a respected presence on the streets of Islamabad".



6. Several women fly helicopters and fighter jets in the military and commercial airliners in the state-owned and private airlines in Pakistan.

Here are a few excerpts from the recent Businessweek story written by Naween Mangi:

About 22 percent of Pakistani females over the age of 10 now work, up from 14 percent a decade ago, government statistics show. Women now hold 78 of the 342 seats in the National Assembly, and in July, Hina Rabbani Khar, 34, became Pakistan’s first female Foreign Minister. “The cultural norms regarding women in the workplace have changed,” says Maheen Rahman, 34, chief executive officer at IGI Funds, which manages some $400 million in assets. Rahman says she plans to keep recruiting more women for her company.

Much of the progress has come because women stay in school longer. More than 42 percent of Pakistan’s 2.6 million high school students last year were girls, up from 30 percent 18 years ago. Women made up about 22 percent of the 68,000 students in Pakistani universities in 1993; today, 47 percent of Pakistan’s 1.1 million university students are women, according to the Higher Education Commission. Half of all MBA graduates hired by Habib Bank, Pakistan’s largest lender, are now women. “Parents are realizing how much better a lifestyle a family can have if girls work,” says Sima Kamil, 54, who oversees 1,400 branches as head of retail banking at Habib. “Every branch I visit has one or two girls from conservative backgrounds,” she says.

Some companies believe hiring women gives them a competitive advantage. Habib Bank says adding female tellers has helped improve customer service at the formerly state-owned lender because the men on staff don’t want to appear rude in front of women. And makers of household products say female staffers help them better understand the needs of their customers. “The buyers for almost all our product ranges are women,” says Fariyha Subhani, 46, CEO of Unilever Pakistan Foods, where 106 of the 872 employees are women. “Having women selling those products makes sense because they themselves are the consumers,” she says.

To attract more women, Unilever last year offered some employees the option to work from home, and the company has run an on-site day-care center since 2003. Engro, which has 100 women in management positions, last year introduced flexible working hours, a day-care center, and a support group where female employees can discuss challenges they encounter. “Today there is more of a focus at companies on diversity,” says Engro Fertilizer CFO Khan, 42. The next step, she says, is ensuring that “more women can reach senior management levels.”






The gender gap in South Asia remains wide, and women in Pakistan still face significant obstacles. But there is now a critical mass of working women at all levels showing the way to other Pakistani women.

I strongly believe that working women have a very positive and transformational impact on society by having fewer children, and by investing more time, money and energies for better nutrition, education and health care of their children. They spend 97 percent of their income and savings on their families, more than twice as much as men who spend only 40 percent on their families, according to Zainab Salbi, Founder, Women for Women International, who recently appeared on CNN's GPS with Fareed Zakaria.

Here's an interesting video titled "Redefining Identity" about Pakistan's young technologists, including women, posted by Lahore-based 5 Rivers Technologies:



Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Status of Women in Pakistan

Microfinancing in Pakistan

Gender Gap Worst in South Asia

Status of Women in India

Female Literacy Lags in South Asia

Land For Landless Women

Are Women Better Off in Pakistan Today?

Growing Insurgency in Swat

Religious Leaders Respond to Domestic Violence

Fighting Agents of Intolerance

A Woman Speaker: Another Token or Real Change

A Tale of Tribal Terror

Mukhtaran Mai-The Movie

World Economic Forum Survey of Gender Gap

Comments

Riaz Haq said…
A future perfect
Stephen Pinker’s case for optimism
“Enlightenment Now” explains why the doom-mongers are wrong

https://www.economist.com/news/books-and-arts/21737241-enlightenment-now-explains-why-doom-mongers-are-wrong-stephen-pinkers-case

TO ANYONE who reads a newspaper, this can seem a miserable world. Syria is still at war. Another lunatic has gone on a gun rampage in an American school. The tone of political debate can rarely have been as crass and poisonous as it is today.

Front pages are grim for the same reason that Shakespeare’s plays feature a lot of murders. Tragedy is dramatic. Hardly anyone would read a story headlined “100,000 AEROPLANES DIDN’T CRASH YESTERDAY”. Bad things often happen suddenly and telegenically. A factory closes; an apartment block burns down. Good things tend to happen incrementally, and across a wide area, making them much harder to film. News outlets could have honestly reported that the “NUMBER OF PEOPLE IN EXTREME POVERTY FELL BY 137,000 SINCE YESTERDAY” every day for 25 years. But readers might get bored.

----

The world is about 100 times wealthier than 200 years ago and, contrary to popular belief, its wealth is more evenly distributed. The share of people killed annually in wars is less than a quarter of that in the 1980s and half a percent of the toll in the second world war. During the 20th century Americans became 96% less likely to die in a car crash, 92% less likely to perish in a fire and 95% less likely to expire on the job.

---

Best of all possible worlds

Progress has often been stunningly rapid. The vast majority of poor Americans enjoy luxuries unavailable to the Vanderbilts and Astors of 150 years ago, such as electricity, air-conditioning and colour televisions. Street hawkers in South Sudan have better mobile phones than the brick that Gordon Gekko, a fictional tycoon, flaunted in “Wall Street” in 1987. It is not just that better medicine and sanitation allow people to live longer, healthier lives, or that labour-saving devices have given people more free time, or that Amazon and Apple offer a dazzling variety of entertainment to fill it. People are also growing more intelligent, and more humane.

In every part of the world IQ scores have been rising, by a whopping 30 points in 100 years, meaning that the average person today scores better than 98% of people a century ago. How can this be, given that intelligence is highly heritable, and clever folk breed no more prolifically than less gifted ones? The answer is better nutrition (“brains are greedy organs”) and more stimulation. Children are far likelier to go to school than they were in 1900, while “outside the schoolhouse, analytic thinking is encouraged by a culture that trades in visual symbols (subway maps, digital displays), analytic tools (spreadsheets, stock reports) and academic concepts that trickle down into common parlance (supply and demand, on average, human rights).”

----
Belief in equality for ethnic minorities and gay people has shot up, as demonstrated not only by polls (which could be biased by the knowledge that bigotry is frowned upon) but also by internet activity. Searches for racist jokes have fallen by seven-eighths in America since 2004. Those who enjoy them are dying out: online searches for racial epithets correlate with interest in “Social Security” and “Frank Sinatra”, Mr Pinker notes. Even the most conservative places are loosening up. Polls find that young Muslims in the Middle East are about as liberal as young western Europeans were in the early 1960s.

----

Mr Pinker has answers for all these questions. In 45 out of 52 countries in the World Values Survey, happiness increased between 1981 and 2007. It rises roughly in line with absolute income per head, not relative income. Loneliness, at least among American students, appears to be declining. Global warming is a big threat, but not insurmountable. The number of nuclear weapons in the world has fallen by 85% since its peak.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan appoints first-ever female diplomat at its embassy in #SaudiArabia


https://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/308165-pakistan-appoints-first-ever-female-diplomat-in-saudi-arabia


Fouzia Fayyaz has been appointed as councilor at Pakistan’s embassy in Saudi Arabia, making her the first-ever female diplomat in the Kingdom in 70 years.

Talking to Daily Jang, Fouzia stated that Pakistan is a progressive country that has always recognised the potential and status of women as they continue to excel in their respective fields. The foreign ministry has always taken initiatives to broaden opportunities of success for women, she further added.


She also said that with her appointment more and more women have now been inducted at the section of the embassy of which she is in-charge.

According to Fouzia, her determination to soar to new heights stems from the fact that she had a very supporting father who gave equal importance to education of girls as boys. Hailing from southern Punjab, Fouzia acquired a Master’s degree in English Literature from Islamia University in Bahawalpur after which she gave her CSS exams.

He first appointment was in Washington D.C and then in New Delhi where she also rendered services as diplomat.
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan’s Gig Economy Helps Smash Obstacles To Women Working
In a country with one of the lowest rates of female participation in the labor market, the digital economy is enabling some women to become breadwinners

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/gig-economy-pakistan_us_5ad9e8ffe4b03c426dadba73

When 28-year-old Dr. Aqsa Sultan was nine months pregnant with her first child, she decided to leave her job at a cardiology institute in Pakistan’s port city of Karachi to be a stay-at-home mom.

But she felt a twinge of resentment watching her husband, also a doctor, go to work each day to treat patients. “I was going through an identity crisis,” Sultan says. “After a while, I got fed up and I wanted to do something to be back in the field.

Sultan found a way to practice medicine from home. DoctHERs, a telemedicine platform in Pakistan, connects unemployed or underemployed female doctors like Sultan to patients in remote areas. Despite having one of the lowest doctor-to-patient ratios in the world, pressure to prioritize families over careers means that around half of female medical school graduates never enter the workforce.

For those who do overcome myriad obstacles to practice medicine, many drop out of the labor force when they are married or have children. DoctHERs is “about them being able to participate in the workforce and feel a sense of autonomy,” says Asher Hasan, the organization’s co-founder.

Pakistan has one of the world’s lowest rates of female participation in the labor market — it is estimated only 25 percent of women over the age of 15 work. However, there are signs that technology is gradually transforming women’s participation in some areas of the labor force.

Pakistan accounts for 8 percent of the worldwide digital gig economy, trailing only India, Bangladesh and the United States. The rise of gig work (flexible, piecemeal jobs), say some experts, has provided many Pakistani women a foothold in the new digital economy, in some cases shifting women into the primary breadwinner role.

“The gig economy is a unique economic opportunity for women in Pakistan... allowing women to earn a living or access a service from the home when cultural constraints may not allow them to work outside the home,” says Saadia Zahidi, author of Fifty Million Rising: The New Generation of Working Women Transforming the Muslim World.

Sultan normally works in the evenings, when her husband can take over childcare. She selects the number of days and hours she works, and gets paid per video consultation. “They can switch their availability on and off,” adds DoctHERs’ Hasan. “They get to decide their own hours.”
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan footballer Hajra Khan: ‘It’s changing. Slowly, but it’s changing’
The captain of the Pakistan women’s team is challenging preconceptions in her homeland and beyond as she leads a fight for equality and recognition

https://www.theguardian.com/football/2018/may/18/pakistan-hajra-khan-its-changing-geneva-abdul

Karachi is the capital of the province of Sindh, the most populous city in Pakistan and among the biggest in the world. Bordering the Arabian Sea, it is home to more than 21 million people.

Here football is the opiate of the people. It comes as no surprise that Hajra Khan first played outside her home with other children, keeping goal in a net chalked out against a neighbouring wall. However, it was not until she was 14, preoccupied with basketball and track and field, that her mother came across football tryouts in the local Sunday paper and told her to give it a shot.

Ten years on, Khan’s talent has forced football to transcend the country’s historically rigid gender norms and has proved to be a vehicle for change. Khan was made captain of the Pakistan women’s team at the age of 20. She is the country’s highest-scoring female footballer, a Unicef ambassador and the first Pakistani player, male or female, to be signed by a foreign club.

As a child Khan was quiet but she has been anything but when it comes to her national team’s struggle for equality. At the most recent training camp the women were paid $3 a day to the men’s $10. “Dentists, economists, engineers and school girls quit their livelihoods just to be at that camp, a camp that pays a quarter of what they were earning,” Khan says.

Demands from the women’s team for more appear to have had an impact. It was announced in April that the wage would be increased to $10 a day – although the men’s pay was doubled to $20. Khan’s fight is part of a global picture, with female footballers across the US, Norway, Brazil, Ireland and most recently New Zealand demanding gender parity.

Though there is no ignoring the signs of progress in Pakistan, with a historic transgender rights bill passed this month, sexism is pervasive in the Islamic country – which gained notoriety for arguably being one of the most oppressive countries for women, ranking second-worst on the Global Gender Gap index. Men’s teams are not only paid more but granted priority in pitch bookings over women’s teams, who then have to train on cricket pitches or any surface that suffices. And the problems run deeper.

“Say if there’s a photo with the national team on Facebook, there’s going to be 100 negative comments about how she’s not Muslim, how she’s a disgrace to the country,” Khan says. “They don’t care of the skill that the girl has, or the credibility that she holds, or that she’s representing the national team.”
Riaz Haq said…
Why the new global wealth of educated women spurs backlash

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/why-the-new-global-wealth-of-educated-women-spurs-backlash

The spread of education across developing nations is transforming global inequalities and playing a key role in closing the gender gap. Economics correspondent Paul Solman sits down with economist Surjit Bhalla and sociologist Ravinder Kaur to discuss Bhalla’s book, “The New Wealth of Nations,” as well as the backlash to increasing equality.


Paul Solman:

Indian economist Surjit Bhalla and his wife, sociologist Ravinder Kaur, in the U.S. recently to spread the message of “The New Wealth of Nations.”

Surjit Bhalla:

The key thesis of the book is that education and the spread of education has transformed the world and has transformed relationships, inequalities between countries and, finally and most importantly, between the sexes.

Paul Solman:

And the cost? What’s the cost?

Surjit Bhalla:

The cost is that people in the West are going to lose out relative to the people in the East, the East meaning the rest of the world, the West meaning the advanced countries.

What happens, when the world is filled with everybody graduating from high school, then the Western people will lose their advantage over the rest of the world.

Paul Solman:

And so that’s why the person with a high school diploma in the United States has seen her or his, usually his, earnings…

Surjit Bhalla:

Decline, yes, in real terms, by something like 10 percent or 15 percent over the last 25 years. The real wage of those who went to college, but didn’t graduate has stayed the same. And the real wage of college graduates, the creme de la creme, has risen by only 0.5 percent per annum.

Paul Solman:

But it’s not the creme de la creme anymore, because you can go beyond college.

Surjit Bhalla:

Well, no, this includes beyond graduate. Whether it’s doctors or it’s lawyers, everything is transferable now.

Even surgery can be done transatlantic by the use of technology. Where is the real advantage left for an American or a British or German or Western professional?

Paul Solman:

Isn’t that why there’s a reaction against immigration?

Ravinder Kaur:

Yes.

You know, there’s always a scapegoat when things are not going well for you. And it always tends to be somebody we think of as the other. You know, it could be a person of a different color. It could be a person of different religious persuasion.

Surjit Bhalla:

Different sex.

Ravinder Kaur:

Of different sex or whatever. So, today, maybe men are resentful of women.

Surjit Bhalla:

Previously, there were always the bottom 20 percent who lost out, but they could come home and feel superior to or dominate their wives.

Now they come home, and the women are the major breadwinners, or are more educated than them, or more able than them.

Paul Solman:

Or at least are competing with them.

Surjit Bhalla:

Or competing. From where they were here, now they’re equals. That can mess up the psychology of men.

Ravinder Kaur:

I think it is a threatened masculinity issue. Why do you see more, you know, such crime in places where the gender gap is closing?

Paul Solman:

According to the World Health Organization, for example, violence against women surged in both Nicaragua and Uganda following public information campaigns promoting women’s rights.

And then there’s the so-called Nordic paradox. Though Iceland Norway, Finland and Sweden take the World Economic Forum’s global index of gender equality — the U.S. ranks 49th — they are also among the worst in Europe for domestic violence and sexual assault.

Ravinder Kaur:

So, for quite some time, my argument has been that if you see more violence and if you see more gender crime, it’s a backlash. How dare this woman be in the public space, and you know how dare she aspire…

Surjit Bhalla:

Be equal.
Riaz Haq said…
Women #airline #pilots in #Pakistan take #SocialMedia by storm.
A picture of Captain Maryam Masood and First Officer Shumaila Mazhar has gone viral and social media can’t stop praising the women. https://gulfnews.com/news/asia/pakistan/women-pilots-in-pakistan-take-social-media-by-storm-1.2240507 … #Islamabad #Gilgit

Social media can’t stop cheering for Pakistan International Airlines’ (PIA) female pilots who flew through a difficult route between Islamabad and Gilgit, Pakistan.
The airline tweeted a picture of smiling Captain Maryam Masood and First Officer Shumaila Mazhar on Wednesday and wrote: “The flight to Gilgit is very challenging and requires a lot of precision and technique. Our dynamic duo, Captain Maryam Masood and First Officer Shumaila Mazhar make it look so easy as they fly through the mountains celebrating the beauty of our northern areas! Way to go! #PIA”.

View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter

PIA

@Official_PIA
The flight to Gilgit is very challenging and requires a lot of precision and technique. Our dynamic duo, Captain Maryam Masood and First Officer Shumaila Mazhar make it look so easy as they fly through the mountains celebrating the beauty of our northern areas! Way to go!! #PIA

11:58 PM - Jun 20, 2018
10.3K
3,581 people are talking about this
Twitter Ads info and privacy
The post has since gone viral, with almost 3,000 retweets and over 9,000 likes.

Gilgit lies in a narrow valley and is the main city in Pakistan’s mountainous Gilgit-Baltistan region. The airstrip at Gilgit airport is considered quite dangerous, as it is extremely short and located at the end of a slope.


Pakistanis all over social media praised the dynamic duo.
Actor Hamza Ali Abbasi @iamhamzaabbasi tweeted: “One of the most technically challenging flights of PIA from Islamabad to Gilgit operated by an all-female flying crew.... Bravo Captain Maryam Masood and First Officer Shumaila Mazhar. You both are an inspiration!”
Tweep Mohammad Firaas @raisinganchor took a moment to highlight other Pakistani female crew members, who have successfully piloted aircraft over the years: “I remember the day when two female pilots with an all-female cabin crew flew a #Fokker F27 from Islamabad to Lahore back in January 2006. Ayesha Rabia and Sadia Aziz became the inspiration for many other female pilots to take to the skies! Wish them all the best in @Official_PIA!”
Twitter user @ejazhaider wrote: “This... is our true potential; this is what defines us. Way to go officers!”
Tweep Asif Pasha @Asif_Pasha_ highlighted how the women were an inspiration to his children and other Pakistani women: “My daughter of 8 wants to become a pilot too. Long way to go but she will definitely make it one day. What a proud moment for the captain, first officer and their parents…”
The pilots also received praise from across the border. Former Indian Police Service officer, Sanjiv Bhatt @sanjivbhatt tweeted: “Red letter day in the aviation history of Pakistan…”
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistani #women riding #motorcycles to fight patriarchy. #WomenatWork #Pakistan

http://www.latimes.com/world/la-fg-pakistan-women-motorcycle-20180713-story.html

One morning recently, 28-year-old Rahila Qaisar donned a pink helmet, balanced her handbag on her lap and revved her new pink Honda motorcycle, so fresh from the factory that the passenger seat was still covered in plastic.

Qaisar is one of hundreds of newly minted motorcycle riders zipping around eastern Pakistan under a government initiative to help women navigate the country’s notoriously male-dominated roads.

The Women on Wheels campaign has trained more than 3,500 female motorcycle riders in Punjab province — the country’s largest — and plans to furnish more than 700 subsidized bikes to licensed riders from low- and middle-income families.

The program represents a small revolution for women such as Qaisar, a bubbly preschool teacher who said that running even the most mundane errands — shuttling her father to appointments and zipping through the narrow lanes of busy shopping areas — has given her newfound self-confidence.

“It helps us economically and it helps us emotionally,” Qaisar said. “When I first started riding, I felt like I was flying high in the sky.”

A few years ago, when her parents were bedridden after a road accident, Qaisar wished she hadn’t been born a girl.

“I could have done more for my family as a son,” said Qaisar, the youngest of three daughters and the last one still living at home. To fetch medicines and household supplies, she crisscrossed this sprawling city alone in buses and motorized rickshaws, braving heat, traffic delays and unwanted attention from strange men.

Her father’s motorcycle — the preferred conveyance for Lahore’s harried working class — sat idle in the garage. It wasn’t considered proper for a woman in Pakistan to ride one.

While women in Saudi Arabia made headlines this summer for earning the right to drive for the first time, Pakistani women face a different struggle on the roads. Few families can afford cars. In Lahore, a provincial capital of 11 million people with an extensive road network but inadequate mass transit, riding public buses often means long wait times and crowded compartments where men can grope and harass female riders with impunity.

In Pakistan’s deeply patriarchal society — where fathers, brothers and husbands often dictate women’s movements — surveys show men strongly oppose female family members taking most forms of public transport. The Center for Economic Research in Pakistan has found that these restrictions constrain women from working, pursuing higher education and venturing beyond their neighborhoods.

“Economic empowerment is dependent on mobility, and this was the cheapest way we could give women mobility,” said Salman Sufi, head of the province’s Strategic Reforms Unit, which implemented the program. The bikes were painted pink to stand out — and discourage male relatives from using them.

When Qudsia Abbas received her bike — it retails for about $650, but the program offers a 40% discount — it was the most exciting development in her family in years. Her younger sisters, who had to beg their father to drop them off at tutoring sessions and school events on his motorbike, now rely on her for rides.

“I became a brother to my sisters,” said Abbas, 20, who has no male siblings. “My father is a lot more relaxed now.”

Kate Vyborny, a Duke University researcher who studies transportation in Pakistan, said Women on Wheels could help “shift the norms around women in public spaces” and fight the conservative stereotype that a woman straddling a motorcycle is somehow indecent.

But with initiatives such as women-only buses having had limited success, Vyborny said that officials should closely monitor the impact of such a significant cultural change.

“Generally it’s been taboo for women to ride motorbikes,” Vyborny said. “If the government is successful in increasing acceptance of that, it’s a really major thing.”
Riaz Haq said…
Justice Tahira Safdar nominated as first female chief justice in #Balochistan or anywhere else in #Pakistan. #judiciary #gender https://tribune.com.pk/story/1764871/1-justice-tahira-safdar-nominated-first-female-chief-justice-pakistan/

Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar on Monday nominated Justice Syeda Tahira Safdar as the Chief Justice of Balochistan High Court (BHC), paving way for her to become the first female chief justice of any court in the country.

“Madam Tahira Safdar will be the next chief justice of BHC,” he announced at Justice Safdar’s book launch in Lahore, where he was invited as the chief guest.

Speaking on the occasion, Justice Nisar said that he will never even let a scratch come to the institution, referring to the matter of Justice Siddiqui’s fiery speech against state institutions.
“Unfortunately, a few forces are trying to undermine and weaken the judiciary, I will never let that happen,” he remarked. “As long as the Supreme Court exists, no threats against democracy will succeed.”

BHC’s incumbent Chief Justice Muhammad Noor Meskanzai is scheduled to retire on September 1 this year. He was sworn in on December 26, 2014 after Justice Qazi Faez Isa was elevated as a Supreme Court judge.


Justice Tahira Safdar will work as the chief justice of the BHC till October 5 next year. Justice Tahira Safdar is part of the special court, hearing the high treason case against former military ruler Pervez Musharraf.

Interestingly, Justice Safdar was the first woman to be appointed as a civil judge in Balochistan, besides having the distinction of being the first lady to be appointed in all posts she served. She was also the first female high court judge.

According to her profile on BHC’s website, Justice Safdar is the daughter of Syed Imtiaz Hussain Baqri Hanafi, a renowned lawyer.

She was born on October 5, 1957, at Quetta. She received her basic education from the Cantonment Public School, Quetta, and finished her bachelors’ degree from the Government Girls College, Quetta. Justice Syeda Tahira Safdar did her Masters in Urdu Literature from the University of Balochistan, and completed her degree in law from the University Law College, Quetta, in 1980.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan's first woman ambassador to #Iran takes charge in #Tehran

https://nation.com.pk/07-Aug-2018/pakistan-s-first-woman-envoy-to-iran-takes-charge


Ambassador Riffat Masood on Tuesday presented her credentials to Iran’s Foreign Minister Jawad Zareef, becoming the country’s first woman envoy to Iran.

Riffat Masood is a career diplomat with wide experience of diplomacy and having fluency in Persian language.

She also had various diplomatic assignments in the country’s missions in Norway, United Kingdom, the United States, Turkey and France.
Riaz Haq said…
Her Father Gave Her The Courage To Speak Out Against 'Honor Killings'

https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2018/09/04/644498267/after-her-cousins-honor-killing-khalida-brohi-became-a-womens-rights-activist

In the tribal region of Pakistan where Khalida Brohi grew up, girls didn't typically go to school. Instead, some were forced into marriage at a very young age — and punished by death if they don't act according to plan.

That's what happened to Brohi's 14-year-old cousin, Khadija. Khadija's family had arranged a marriage for her, but Khadija fell in love with someone else and ran away. Then, Brohi says, "Three men arrived and they took her ... to a place where her grave was already dug and she was murdered by my uncle right there."

Brohi herself would have been betrothed before she was even born had her father not refused to sign the marriage contract. "It saved my life, definitely," she says of her father's refusal.

Instead, Brohi became the first girl in her village to go to school. After being exposed to books and ideas — as well as to the suffering of girls and women in her village — Brohi dedicated herself to educating women. She's launched several nonprofit organizations and speaks out against so-called "honor killings" — in which women are murdered by family members because of a perceived shame. Her new memoir is I Should Have Honor.

Interview Highlights


On her cousin's family getting money after Khadija's murder

This is this is very hard for me to speak about, but when [Khadija] was murdered, the boy's family had pleaded with them to take money instead of murdering him, and the money would bring food to the table of this family. And the mother would refuse to eat, and because there was nothing else to eat they would force her to have a few bites. And one day she ate from that food, and the next day she said, "I feel a cancer growing in me, because I ate my daughter."

On exchange marriages, in which each tribe trades a bride to the other in order to establish trust

Exchange marriages are usually very common between two different tribes. ... People who don't know each other and cannot trust each other. A lot of times even in small villages, trade also happens between their own tribes and so do relationships. But when there is a persistent offer ... for starting a relationship, then one tribe gives a daughter to the other tribe and demands a daughter in return. This is usually so that the daughter they've given is kept happy, and in any given good facilities of life, and if she's ever beaten in the other tribe, they would beat this daughter.

On how she was nearly in an exchange marriage before she was born

Before I was born, my uncle ... who at this time had murdered his own wife, decided that he's going to marry again and he needed another wife, but the family he was asking that woman from demanded an exchange, and there was no one else to be given, so he asked my father, who was his youngest brother, ... to give his first daughter as an exchange. ...

This was the first time when [my father] said no. He refused his father, he refused his brother, because he said ..., "Before even I hold her in my hands in my arms I cannot make such a decision." And because of that he disgraced his family and eventually left the family to give us a new life.

On how her father's education affected the family

It's shaped the family to become who we are, and to give us the path that we chose, because when he made it to university, he started realizing the injustices even more. He had started thinking about women's rights and about the position he would one day give to his daughters. At the time of university he discovered that his village not only had given him opportunity to go to school, but at the same time had also made him suffer by putting him through this tragic exchange marriage to a girl he had not met ... and at the time my mother was nine and he was 13.
Riaz Haq said…
Charted: The shocking gender divide in India’s workforce

https://qz.com/india/1404730/the-shocking-gap-between-indias-male-and-female-workers/

From wage gaps to social prejudices, Indian women face multiple barriers to entering the workforce in greater numbers.

“The Indian economy remains heavily gender segregated,” a report by the Bengaluru-based Azim Premji University’s Centre for Sustainable Employment (pdf) has found. The report on India’s job market also underscores the fact that women haven’t completely benefited from India’s rapid economic progress.

India’s female labour-force participation is among the lowest in the world and what is worse, it has only stagnated in the last decade. This has been attributed to factors such as societal attitudes that give preference to early marriages over jobs and education, a general disapproval of working women, and a lack of suitable job opportunities for them. Women also continue to be employed mostly in low-paying, low-value jobs.

The wage gap, much like the world over, persists in the Indian job market, too. And for women here, who are largely employed in low value-added sectors such as agriculture, textiles, and domestic services, the wage disparity is quite striking. “Women earn between 35% and 85% of men’s earnings, depending on the type of work and the level of education of the worker,” the report added.

However, over the last few years, pay disparities have reduced across certain sectors.

For instance, in the organised manufacturing sector, the pay gap has narrowed from 35% in 2000 to 45% in 2013. Similarly, the report noted a reduction in the earnings gap in female-dominated industries like food, tobacco, textiles, apparel, and among construction labourers.

Where do they work
Women in India form a large chunk of the workforce in industries such as agriculture, education, and textiles. “Women workers remain highly over-represented in the low value-added industries as well as occupations, such as agriculture, textiles, and domestic service,” the report noted. These low-value-added industries mean that women continue to be on the lower end of the pay scale.

At the higher end of the wage spectrum, women are few in number. “Women continue to be heavily under-represented among senior officers, legislators and managers…Also, on a negative note, women continue to be over-represented in elementary occupations, which are among the least well-paid,” the report noted.

The silver lining, though, is that the winds of change have started to blow. More and more educated women are joining higher-earning occupations, even though their share remains small.

With the generally better level of education, there has been an increase in the share of women working as accountants, auditors, market research analysts, public relations personnel, and financial analysts. This means that there is a small but steady rise in women with high-paying jobs. “Women are even over-represented among associate-level professionals. Further, the share of women working in these well-paying occupations has increased steadily since 1994.”

Even as the country grapples with providing meaningful employment to its young people, policies directed towards enabling more women to join the workforce could bode well for the country.

The report noted that despite the proliferation of jobs in the economy, India has done little to create more opportunities for women. “Broadly speaking, economic growth in India has still not generated a process of employment diversification, especially for women.”
Riaz Haq said…
#Female car mechanic driving change in patriarchal #Pakistan. She has also convinced some of those who doubted her ability to make it in a male-dominated work environment, including members of her own family. #automobile #technician

https://www.khaleejtimes.com/international/pakistan/female-car-mechanic-driving-change-in-patriarchal-pakistan

Since picking up a wrench as one of the first female car mechanics in conservative Pakistan, Uzma Nawaz has faced two common reactions: shock and surprise. And then a bit of respect.

The 24-year-old spent years overcoming entrenched gender stereotypes and financial hurdles en route to earning a mechanical engineering degree and netting a job with an auto repairs garage in the eastern city of Multan.

"I took it up as a challenge against all odds and the meagre financial resources of my family," Nawaz told AFP.

"When they see me doing this type of work they are really surprised."

Hailing from the small, impoverished town of Dunyapur in eastern Pakistan's Punjab province, Nawaz relied on scholarships and often skipped meals when she was broke while pursuing her degree.

Her achievements are rare. Women have long struggled for their rights in conservative patriarchal Pakistan, and especially in rural areas are often encouraged to marry young and devote themselves entirely to family over career.

"No hardship could break my will and motivation," she says proudly.

The sacrifices cleared the way for steady work at a Toyota dealership in Multan following graduation, she adds.

Just a year into the job, and promoted to general repairs, Nawaz moves with the ease of a seasoned pro around the dealership's garage, removing tyres from raised vehicles, inspecting engines and handling a variety of tools - a sight that initially jolted some customers.

"I was shocked to see a young girl lifting heavy spare tyres and then putting them back on vehicles after repairs," customer Arshad Ahmad told AFP.

But Nawaz's drive and expertise have impressed colleagues, who say she can more than hold her own.

"Whatever task we give her she does it like a man with hard work and dedication," said co-worker M. Attaullah.

She has also convinced some of those who doubted her ability to make it in a male-dominated work environment, including members of her own family.

"There is no need in our society for girls to work at workshops, it doesn't seem nice, but it is her passion," said her father Muhammad Nawaz.

"She can now set up the machinery and can work properly. I too am very happy."

Riaz Haq said…
Carpenters Challenge Notions Of '#Women's Work' In Pakistan. Dozens of women in northern #Pakistan have learned #carpentry skills as part of a #training program to make them financially independent. #vocation https://www.rferl.org/a/pakistan-women-carpenters/29562991.html
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistani #Hindu women in #Thar determined to change destiny through #CPEC. #China #Coal #Power https://nation.com.pk/26-Oct-2018/pakistani-women-determined-to-change-destiny-through-cpec

"It made me believe in miracles," said 24-year-old Lata Mai who drives a 60-ton dump truck in a coal-based power plant in Thar desert of Pakistan's south Sindh province, a project under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

READ MORE: Ethiopia appoints Africa's only female president
Belonging to an area where women are usually underprivileged and less educated, Mai dared to dream big.

The childhood dream of Mai, now the mother of two, was to drive a vehicle on the barren road of Thar. But she knew it was a fancy thinking that would probably never be realized, until one day her husband brought a pamphlet home which said that the Thar coal project was hiring women to drive trucks.

Mai, who had never shared her dream with anyone, hesitantly expressed her wish to apply for the post.

Her husband merely laughed at the idea, but after seeing her determination, he agreed to support her.

READ MORE: Everything feels in rhythm, says Curry after 51-point night
Naseem Memon of Sindh Engro Mining company, a member of the committee that hired Mai and dozens of other young women in Thar, told Xinhua that the women drivers are undergoing a 10-month training and will get behind the wheel in December.

"Unlike other sectors, in a coal project, most of the mining jobs are related to truck driving. When we observed that women in Thar walk two to three miles a day in temperatures as high as 50 degrees Celsius, we believed that if we bring them to job sector, they can do wonders. We were right, they did not disappoint us, they are more hardworking than their male counterparts," said Memon.



"You can imagine how CPEC has changed the lives of these women in a far flung desert of Pakistan. Women, who were utterly dependent on men, are now freely driving heavy dump trucks."

Kiran Sidhwani, a young woman living in the Thar desert, also witnessed a surprising turn in her life after she got a job opportunity in the Thar coal power project.

READ MORE: US mail bombs: who has been targeted?
"She is a young university graduate who is working as an electrical engineer with us. Apart from Sidhwani, we have also hired a female civil engineer who will join work after completing her training," Memon told Xinhua.

Pakistan's Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari said earlier this week that when CPEC moves beyond road construction to enter into the building process of economic zones, the standard of workforce will be raised in the country.

"As special economic zones are coming to play, multinational enterprises will bring corporate social responsibility with them. With the bringing in of great corporate social responsibility, we will see the rise and improvement in the standard of workforce, including the women workforce," said the minister.

According to the latest study of CPEC Center of Excellence, CPEC has the potential to create around 1.2 million jobs through the currently agreed projects, and the number may go up with the inclusion of new projects under its long term plan.

READ MORE: Spain Supreme Court orders trial of former Catalan leaders
The CPEC projects, including energy projects, infrastructure projects, Gwadar Port and industrial cooperation proposed under special economic zones in different provinces of the country, will immensely help reduce the unemployment rate in the country.

Analysts believe that female employment rate in CPEC is low at this stage as the project mainly offers blue collar jobs, but with the development of economic zones, more white collar job opportunities will be offered and more women workforce will take part in it.

A primary school has been established in Gwadar where 498 students including 348 girls are provided quality education to enable them to reap the benefits of CPEC-related projects in the Gwadar port.

Popular posts from this blog

San Francisco Tech Firm to Invest $6 Million in Pakistan Game Development Studio

Pakistan's Human Development Ranking Hits New Low of 150 After Decade of Democracy

How Can Pakistan Build Up and Manage Dollar Reserves?