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December 3, 2019

Opening eyes to gender-blindness


December 3, 2019

LAHORE: We need to strive for absolute gender-blindness if we are to give women equal employment opportunities, and one strategy to push the envelope further in this direction is evaluation of résumés without names to ensure effective as well as dispassionate recruitment decisions.

Most developed countries are adopting these strategies although there is almost no bias against women. In Pakistan as in other countries of this region there is a cultural bias against the women. Because of this bias women get fewer resources for education, training, and access to capital.

So, in most of the cases, a majority of women in our country enters the job market with a handicap of lower qualification, lower skills, and lower chances of obtaining finances from formal channels. Even some women, who venture into exports are actually making goods like garments from their own resources and sending consignments through parcels or courier to some relatives in developed economy.

The relative then disposes that stuff and then makes the payment. They in fact are in informal exports just the way they operate in job market as informal workers. Informal work represents tremendous degree of abuse of working class. Majority of workers in informal work worldwide as in Pakistan are women. These workers are exploited economically as well as socially.

When going gets tough, as these days, the employers, in their obsession to keep production cost in desired limits, cut labour costs as wages are an important element of production costs. This way they also save other labour costs like insurance, benefits, medical cover, social security, and employees’ old age benefits. But informal workers have very little bargaining power; moreover, informal workers are used as a tool by employers to weaken the power of formal sector workers.

The ancient traditional emphasis that men are the real bearers of the bloodline and only they can carry on the family line continues to keep this outmoded concept of son preference even in the modern society. Sons are seen as a family’s economic security as providers of income and resources to parents in their old age. Men feel challenged, embarrassed, and agitated maybe taking it as a mockery to their machismo if women start assisting them in breadwinning or become the sole providers. This is the reason the men, who experience economic stress due to loss of job are more likely to perpetrate violence against their partners.

Strengthening and utilising the economic potential of women is a critical approach for economic development. Thus, it is especially important to ensure women have the education, skills, and resources needed to be self-sufficient, fully aspirational about their futures, and contribute as equal members of society.

Vulnerable and economically disadvantaged women need financial resources to complete their education, pursue higher education, pay for vocational training, or start small enterprises. Gender-related challenges, such as restrictions on mobility, lack of schooling or dropping out of school, early marriage, abuse, and violence lead to creating unfair disadvantages for this large group of adolescents in Pakistan.

Globally, the garment industry is one of the biggest employers of low-skilled women workers. Despite their large numbers in the workforce, relatively few female garment workers advance to higher-level positions, as they have limited opportunities to acquire the skills that would enable their professional and personal growth. Few female garment workers advance through the ranks in the factories where they work and turnover is typically high in the industry.

For many of them, jobs in the factories are their first formal employment opportunities. Young, undereducated, and with limited exposure outside their homes, they often lack the confidence to speak to their supervisors. Their personal challenges – from managing their time to managing the stress of relationships – are difficult for them to resolve. Most garment exporting countries have devised programmes to instill confidence in the raw female workforce. It is unfortunate that in Pakistan males are the dominant workforce in garment industries as well.

When women do participate in the labour market, they are less likely than their male counterparts to find a job. In our culture women are also more likely to undertake a greater number of hours of unpaid work due to time spent on household chores and care-giving.

Overall, they are more likely to work longer hours than men when both paid and unpaid works are taken into account. Moreover, when in a paid employment, on average, women work fewer hours for pay or profit either because they opt to work part-time or because it is the only option available to them.

By promoting gender-blindness, we will produce a workplace that is fairer and a workforce that is better.

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