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:
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
Wonderful story, Riaz sb. Really enjoyed reading it.
Thanks for sharing some thing positive about Pakistan. This is very encouraging. My daughter and Grand Daughter will be able to show their American friends with PRIDE. God Bless you for Sharing.
Its highly inspiring, thanks a lot for sharing this fine material
Here's a Newsweek Pakistan cover story about "100 Women Who Shake Pakistan":
They make up almost half of Pakistan's population of 180 million, but are rarely given the space and coverage they deserve. From Fatima Jinnah to Rana Liaquat Ali Khan to Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan has produced some very remarkable women. Today, they are bankers, businesswomen, activists, artists, sport stars. From a pool of almost 350 women, here's our list of the 100 women who matter most.
The article below is by Bryan Farris, an American who recently spent a month in Pakistan. Unlike most who 'visit' and discuss with armchair analysts he decided to 'feel' Pakistan. This country and its peoples have to be 'felt', not merely seen!
What most of the world fails to realize is just how beautiful this country is and how spectacular its people truly are. It is impossible to overlook the problems: Pakistan is facing lawlessness in Karachi, a violent political system, jaw-dropping inflation, an insufficient power supply and terrorists staking claim over the northern areas. These are real issues that do exist: but they do not define Pakistan—as much of the world would have you believe.
While it may be impossible to overlook the problems, it is (apparently) quite possible to overlook the splendor that a country like Pakistan offers.
Where else do you greet every stranger with the phrase “Peace be with you”?
Where else do you find BBQ Chicken Tikka that melts in your mouth?
Where else is being 20 minutes late considered on-time?
Where else can you see opportunity in every alley?
Where else do motorized scooters (100% of which are red hondas) weave in between cars which cruise past rickshaws, which veer around donkey-pulled carts, which are dwarfed by strutting camels?Where else can you buy seasonal fruit on every single street corner?
Where else do the echoes of a minaret bring an eerie peace to 4a.m. in the morning?
Where else do you find a people who take prayer so seriously, they start every flight with one?
Where else, but Pakistan?
Pakistanis are hospitable. I’ve spent my entire time here living with a host family. At first I was a guest, but Jean, Wilburn, Asim, Maria, Susie, John, Ben, Thomas, Annie, Tashu and Ethan made me feel so welcome that they became family. I know I have a home here forever. Anywhere you go in Pakistan, people will welcome you with open arms (and probably a even a hug—from strangers too).
Pakstanis are loyal. I mean…crazy loyal. When you make a Pakistani friend, you’ve created a serious bond. Leaving is so hard because I feel such powerful ties with people here. For my farewell dinner, a co-worker (but really a new best friend), Jamshaid, made two 9 hour trips between our site in the flood affected areas and Lahore just to join for dinner. Another friend of mine who had moved out of Lahore months ago made a 250Km round trip to meet me for Sehri breakfast at 3am. I’ve never felt so honored.
Pakistanis love tea. If this isn’t self-evident, I don’t know what is. Pakistanis love to sit down, stir their chai and chat. Spending time with others and building quality relationships is so important. Back home people tend to fly through their days, but in Pakistan, every moment with another is cherished.
Pakistanis are optimistic. I’ve never been somewhere where young people were as energized about opportunities in their own country as here. There is a bright future ahead and Pakistan’s youth are driving it. A few friends of mine—Ali, Babar, Zehra, Saba, Jimmy, Khurram—have inspiring aspirations for change in PK.
This is the Pakistan that the world needs to come to know. Yes, there are terrorists and violence, and that can’t be forgotten, but if that is your perception, then you are judging a book by the headlines.
Sure, there are probably safer ways I could have spent this year, but then I wouldn’t have been stretched in the way that I have been.
Pakistan has become a part of me; it has forever changed me, my perspective on the world, and my trust in humanity.
Here’s to you PK.
Shukria, Allah Hafiz. (Thank you, may God protect you).
Here's a report about Dawood Foundation encouraging entrepreneurship in Pakistan:
KARACHI - Six of the most dynamic women entrepreneurs talked about their experiences, triumphs and losses before a spell-bound audience at the second Ladiesfund Entrepreneurship Conference (LEC) hosted by the Dawood Global Foundation (DGF) at the Avari Towers.
The event was organised in partnership with the Higher Education Commission, the Avari Group, the Dawood Capital Management, and over 60 partners, sponsors and supporters. The audience was diverse and consisted of Very Important Persons, top entrepreneurs, budding entrepreneurs, journalists and enthusiastic university students.
The Ladiesfund was established in 2007 as an initiative to provide financial security to women and to promote and train women entrepreneurs. It aims to integrate the entrepreneurial needs based on the economic and social aspects of the local communities with respect to greater women participation in the workforce.
The conference started with recitation of the Holy Quran, followed by a welcome address by TU Dawood with an introduction to virtual businesses and how they are a fabulous option for women entrepreneurs. This was followed by a speech from British Deputy High Commissioner Francis Campbell, who was the chief guest. He spoke on the importance of entrepreneurship in Pakistan and how much it could help boost our economy.
To educate the budding entrepreneurs and students in the audience about what entrepreneurship really is, there was a short academic presentation by Avari Karachi General Manager Gordon Gorman. Then followed the first panel of the conference, which consisted of Mehrbano Sethi of Luscious Cosmetics, Ayaz Khan of Okra, and Wajeeha Malik of Olive Soap.
And as a pleasant surprise for the audience, Rohail Hyatt, the powerhouse behind the famous Coke Studio, joined the panel. This panel focused on the basics of entrepreneurship. They answered questions about the realities on entrepreneurship and what made them decide to become entrepreneurs.
The second panel comprised architect Naheed Mashooqullah, designer Hassan Sheheryar Yasin, and Naila Naqvi of Pie in the Sky and Chatterbox. They shared the inside scoop on how their brands tipped to being the best in their industries, despite facing the problems that all Pakistani entrepreneurs face, like electricity, human resources, etc.
They talked about expanding businesses, and whether expanding through other people, platforms or on your own is a better option. This was followed by a question-answer session. At the end was an art auction by Mehreen Ilahi of the Majmua Art Gallery to raise funds for the DGF, followed by a lucky draw conducted by the chief guest.
The conference was moderated and hosted by Sidra Iqbal. TU Dawood finally presented the plaques to the chief guest and panellists. The event concluded with thanking all the sponsors, supporters, students, event catalysts, volunteers and ambassadors. Funds raised from the LEC 2011 are audited by Ernst & Young Ford Rhodes Sidat Hyder, and go toward Ladiesfund Fellowships & Scholarships as well as women development initiatives.
Here's an excerpt from a World Bank report on employment in South Asia:
Among the five large countries in the region, employment growth since 2000 was highest in Pakistan, followed by Nepal and Bangladesh, India, and Sri Lanka. Total employment in South Asia (excluding Afghanistan and Bhutan) rose from 473 million in 2000 to 568 million in 2010, creating an average of just under 800,000 new jobs a month. In
all countries except Maldives and Sri Lanka, the largest share of the employed are the low‐end self‐employed (figure 1.2).3 Nearly a third of workers in India and a fifth of
workers in Bangladesh and Pakistan are casual laborers. Regular wage and salaried workers represent a fifth or less of total employment.
A just released World Bank report says that "Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan, which together account for 95 percent
of the region’s working‐age population and have the lowest rates of female participation (31 percent in Bangladesh, 30 percent in India, and 22 percent in Pakistan)."
Here's an inspiring story of a brave woman beekeeper in Pakistan:
SWAT: Shahi Bakhta has single-handedly steered her life and those of her children out from the depths of poverty and managed to economically stabilise her family.
Bakhta, 38, lives with her five children in Nehrabad village in Swat’s Kabal town. She was widowed in May 2009 at the peak of the Swat insurgency when her husband, Mohammad Rashid, was hit by a stray bullet in crossfire between the security forces and militants.
In that one moment, Bakhta’s life changed and she was left to provide for her three sons and two daughters alone. “I have seen some tough and very bitter days in life. My children would ask for bread and I had nothing to offer to them. Sorely disappointed, I made many suicide attempts. But my children’s innocent faces stopped me.”
Rashid worked as a labourer but also operated a business on the side, where he bred honeybees. After his death, desperate for financial assistance, Bakhta decided to take over the business.
“I had to sell all the equipment of honeybee keeping to arrange for money for my children. I also sold poultry and other things one by one for survival,” she told The Express Tribune, adding that she would do odd jobs from dawn till dusk but not earn enough money to make ends meet.
Almost disillusioned with life, Bakhta was on the verge of giving up when the Sarhad Rural Support Programme, under the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), reached out to her.
“I got detailed training of honeybee keeping for productive and sustainable use of it and learnt basic tools and techniques of honeybee keeping with proper nourishment of boxes,” she said. She was also paid Rs33,000 to start her own business.
The UNDP, with support from the Japanese government, has implemented a Peace and Development Programme in conflict-hit areas, such as Swat, in which cash grants are given to entrepreneurs for small businesses.
With this training, Bakhta now runs her business with scientific methods. “I have better knowledge of how to extract honey from the bees and my business seems to be improving day by day,” she says, happily. “My children’s future will now be bright.”
Here's a Bloomberg report on rising consumer spending and growing FMCG sector in Pakistan:
...“The rural push is aimed at the boisterous youth in these areas, who have bountiful cash and resources to increase purchases,” Shazia Syed, vice president for customer development at Unilever Pakistan Ltd., said in an interview. “Rural growth is more than double that of national sales.”
Nestle Pakistan Ltd., which is spending 300 million Swiss francs ($330 million) to double dairy output in four years, boosted sales 29 percent to 33 billion rupees ($377 million) in the six months through June.
“We have been focusing on rural areas very strongly,” Ian Donald, managing director of Nestle’s Pakistan unit, said in an interview in Lahore. “Our observation is that Pakistan’s rural economy is doing better than urban areas.”
The parent, based in Vevey, Switzerland, aims to get 45 percent of revenue from emerging markets by 2020.
Haji Mirbar, who grows cotton on a 5-acre farm with his four brothers, said his family’s income grew fivefold in the year through June, allowing him to buy branded products. He uses Unilever’s Lifebuoy for his open-air baths under a hand pump, instead of the handmade soap he used before.
Sales for the Pakistan unit of Unilever rose 15 percent to 24.8 billion rupees in the first half. Colgate-Palmolive Pakistan Ltd.’s sales increased 29 percent in the six months through June to 7.6 billion rupees, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Unilever is pushing beauty products in the countryside through a program called “Guddi Baji,” an Urdu phrase that literally means “doll sister.” It employs “beauty specialists who understand rural women,” providing them with vans filled with samples and equipment, Syed said. Women in villages are also employed as sales representatives, because “rural is the growth engine” for Unilever in Pakistan, she said.
While the bulk of spending for rural families goes to food, about 20 percent “is spent on looking beautiful and buying expensive clothes,” Syed said.
Colgate-Palmolive, the world’s largest toothpaste maker, aims to address a “huge gap” in sales outside Pakistan’s cities by more than tripling the number of villages where its products, such as Palmolive soap, are sold, from the current 5,000, said Syed Wasif Ali, rural operations manager at the local unit.
Unilever plans to increase the number of villages where its products are sold to almost half of the total 34,000 within three years. Its merchandise, including Dove shampoo, Surf detergent and Brooke Bond Supreme tea, is available in about 11,000 villages now.
Pakistan, Asia’s third-largest wheat grower, in 2008 increased wheat prices by more than 50 percent as Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani sought to boost production of the staple.
“The injection of purchasing power in the rural sector has been unprecedented,” said Sherani, who added that local prices for rice and sugarcane have also risen.
Increasing consumption in rural areas is forecast to drive economic growth in the South Asian country of 177 million people, according to government estimates.
Higher crop prices boosted farmers’ incomes in Pakistan by 342 billion rupees in the 12 months through June, according to a government economic survey. That was higher than the gain of 329 billion rupees in the preceding eight years.
Telenor Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd. is also expanding in Pakistan’s rural areas, which already contribute 60 percent of sales, said Anjum Nida Rahman, corporate communications director for the local unit of the Nordic region’s largest phone company.
Here's a sad story by blogger Amna of how the elderly in Pakistan are being abandoned at places like Edhi Center:
Her name is Dr. Bibi Qureshi and she was abandoned by her family and left at Edhi shelter for women in Karachi at the age she needs family the most. She appears to be around 80 years old. Although each woman had a heartbreaking story to tell, that of Dr. Bibi Qureshi was especially compelling because in spite of the fact that she’s more well-educated than many people I know, she ended up destitute and abandoned after a lifetime of hard work and accomplishments. After being educated in Aligarh University, her family left India and traveled to Pakistan due to political unrest. She was an activist for women in Balochistan, going door to door to form an all women’s league (really wish I had a clip of the interview to remember the exact name of the organization she is responsible for founding). I can’t even imagine a time when it was safe for an activist to go door to door in Balochistan, much less a woman. She was a feminist before most of us were even born, long before that became a buzzword. She taught in Government College for Women in Pindi for eight years before traveling to London to pursue a PhD. from London School of Economics.
When asked why she never married, she replied that she chose to pursue an education instead. (In this society, if you don’t get married by 24, you’re considered an old maid by 25, at which point people start questioning if there’s something “wrong” with you. Around 30, the proposals pretty much just stop.)
I lived a full life, she said, but I ended up here because I mismanaged my money. I gave it to family, to my brother, to my nephews, to charities and to the poor. Now I have nothing and my brother left me here. Yet she is still grateful, she said, for having a clean bed to sleep in, clothes to wear and food to eat.
When asked if she thought she wouldn’t be in this state had she married and had children, she replied that most of the women in the shelter had children but none willing to house them or care for them. The abandoned woman in the bed next to her had 5 daughters and 2 sons. “It’s a strange world,” she said, shrugging her shoulders in defeat. Who knows what would have happened. If I had children, I may have ended up somewhere else. I may have still ended up here. People come here and ask for interviews, then they leave and everything stays the same. (At which point the pancake-makeup-ed show host made an awkwardface and got up and left to interview someone else.)
Rising per capita income and a growing, young population spending more time online and at Western movies are helping build a mass market in Pakistan, according to Businessweek:
One way to take a city’s economic pulse is to check out where locals shop. In Karachi, Pakistan, shoppers are flocking to Port Grand, which opened in May. Built as a promenade by the historic harbor for almost $23 million, the center caters to Pakistanis eager to indulge themselves. This city of 20 million has seen more than 1,500 deaths from political and sectarian violence from January to August. At Port Grand the only hint of the turmoil is the presence of security details and surveillance cameras. “The whole world is going through a new security environment,” says Shahid Firoz, 61, Port Grand’s developer. “We have to be very conscious of security just as any other significant facility anywhere in the world needs to be.”
Young people stroll the promenade eating burgers and fries and browsing through 60 stores and stalls that sell everything from high fashion to silver bracelets to ice cream. Ornate benches dot a landscaped area around a 150-year-old banyan tree. “Port Grand is something fresh for the city, very aesthetically pleasing and unique,” says Yasmine Ibrahim, a 25-year-old Lebanese American who is helping set up a student affairs office at a new university in Karachi.
One-third of Pakistan’s 170 million people are under the age of 15, which means the leisure business will continue to grow, says Naveed Vakil, head of research at AKD Securities. Per capita income has grown to $1,254 a year in June from $1,073 three years ago.
The appetite for things American is strong despite the rise in tensions between the two allies. Hardee’s opened its first Karachi outlet in September: In the first few days customers waited for hours. It plans to open 10 more restaurants in Pakistan in the next two and a half years, says franchisee Imran Ahmed Khan. U.S. movies are attracting crowds to the recently opened Atrium Cinemas, which would not be out of place in suburban Chicago. Current features include The Adventures of Tintin and the latest Twilight Saga installment. Mission: Impossible—Ghost Protocol is coming soon. Operator Nadeem Mandviwalla says the cinema industry in Pakistan is growing 30 percent a year.
Exposure to Western lifestyles through cable television and the Internet is raising demand for these goods and services. Pakistan has 20 million Internet users, compared with 133,900 a decade ago, while 25 foreign channels, such as CNN (TWX) and BBC World News, are now available. And for many Pakistanis, reruns of the U.S. sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond are a regular treat.
The bottom line: With per capita income rising quickly, Pakistan is developing a mass market eager for Western goods.
Here's a story about Emmy award winning Pakistani documentary producer Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy:
“We’re all storytellers,” says documentary filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy who knows how to make the most of people's storytelling abilities. A recent film about children groomed by the Taliban to become suicide bombers won her an Emmy award, making her the first Pakistani woman to get television's highest accolade. And her most recent film, Saving Face, about Pakistani women who've survived acid attacks is on the Oscar nomination shortlist.
She's the brains behind the Citizens Archive of Pakistan, a database that collects stories from people across the country. “Our goal is to create a repository. We want to make a space to record how the nation has changed over the past years. And currently CAP is the only organization that is recording the personal stories of people,” she says.
Obaid-Chinoy feels that history is in danger of being wiped from her country's collective memory because politics is re-writing the national narrative. "Many children today are barely aware of what happened during the 1971 war," she says. "The defeat of the Pakistani army which led to the creation of Bangladesh is something the government is eager to forget. But CAP found enough people willing to talk about their personal experiences of the war."
The organisation's website offers a chance to browse - for no charge - through an extraordinary collection of videos. Each one is one person's story; their memories of a specific time in history.
It's a simple idea, but a powerful one. Obaid-Chinoy says it’s critical to record the stories because
“Pakistan has been extremely bad at recording its own history properly. Every new government has tried to erase the previous rulers from history. What is left in museums and school textbooks is propaganda from the latest government.”
Bringing the stories to the people
The spirit of the project however is not just to make a preserved video archive for historians.
“We’re also bringing our archive to the people. In Pakistan, information is a privilege of the wealthy, unfortunately. If you have money you can afford education and become more aware of the world around you. The CAP wants to change this,” explains Obaid-Chinoy.
And one of the ways its doing this is through their School Outreach Tour, a program sends a mobile archive of videos, photographs, and newspapers to schools around the country. The aim is to teach children more about Pakistan’s rich history and make them feel proud of it again.
“Part of the reason why Pakistan is in the shape it is in today is because it’s hard for young people to believe in the possibilities of their country. They don’t understand what the idea was behind the creation of this nation. They know so little about Pakistan’s good years,” Says Sharmeen.
“They like telling people about the dreams they had back then. But Partition came with traumas as well. Many people left their homes to follow that dream. It was the turning point in their lives, but the moment itself was filled with hope.”
And hope is something that has been in short supply in Pakistan in recent years. The country has paid a high price for the US-led war on terror. As the forces of extremism, violence and western manipulation pull the nation in different directions, it could well be Obaid-Chinoy's story bank that may end up being definitive repository of Pakistan's soul.
Veena is safe, reports NY Daily News:
A Bollywood beauty whose racy magazine cover photo sparked outrage in Pakistan was reported missing Friday, but has turned up safe and sound in a hotel in India.
Veena Malik, who posed nude for the latest issue of the India version of FHM magazine, apparently vanished last week, causing her manager, Pratiek Mehta, to report her missing, according to London's Daily Mirror.
He was concerned because he said she told him she was feeling depressed and had received several death threats over the photos.
The report led to rampant speculation in the Indian media, including claims that she had snuck back into her home country of Pakistan garbed in a burqa because her visa in India had expired.
PHOTOS: COVER CONTROVERSY? CELEBRITY NAKED COVERS
The 33-year-old - who is in India filming a movie - has since emerged and her spokesperson said she was safe in a hotel in Mumbai.
"Touched base with Veena this morning, she is fine," the spokesperson said, according to the Mirror.
Malik, a Muslim, posed for the men's magazine topless with a tattoo on her shoulder of Pakistan's dreaded intelligence agency, ISI. Conservative clerics in Pakistan called the photos an insult.
The model, who gained fame on the Pakistani version of "Big Brother," said the images were doctored and is suing the magazine.
"I agreed to a photo shoot and having an ISI tattoo in a humorous way but I did not have any nude photos. My pictures have been morphed," she told a Pakistani television station.
FHM denies her claims.
"Maybe she is facing some kind of backlash, so maybe that's why she is denying it," FHM India editor Kabeer Sharma told Agence France-Presse. "We have not photoshopped or faked the cover."
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/veena-malik-muslim-model-featured-nude-fhm-india-cover-safe-india-article-1.993309#ixzz1guUpRU86
Here's an Economic Times story on promoting women entrepreneurs:
Prominent leaders from India and Pakistan today called for concrete steps to empower women in South Asia by enabling them to assert their economic independence through entrepreneurship as a means of eradicating poverty, illiteracy, disease and crime.
Providing women with networking platforms is essential in the current globalised world, said Member of Parliament Najma Heptullah at a seminar organised by industry chamber Assocham here.
The seminar, titled, 'Fostering Women Entrepreneurship - The Way Forward for South Asia', was organised ahead of the visit of an Assocham delegation of business leaders to Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore and Rawalpindi from January 9 to 14, 2012.
Expressing her views, Pakistan Minister of Social Welfare Nargis Khan said women can play an important role in developing societies and nations.
"The country is exploring new channels to promote entrepreneurship with micro loans. Pakistani women are more empowered now after a prolonged dictatorship in a male-dominated society," Khan said.
Speaking at the seminar, Creative Living Organisation Founder and Chief Executive Officer Harbeen Arora said the formation of women associations and support groups should be encouraged to provide them bandwidth for both critical thinking and also critical mass.
"There is need more than ever for having more examples of successful entrepreneurship by women and inspiring role models," she said.
Qadim Moosarat, the Executive Director of the Paiman Trust in Pakistan, said space for women in economic and political spheres is essential for equitable development and peace in South Asia.
National Youth Congress leader Alka Lamba said both countries have many commonalities and traditional linkages. Indian and Pakistani business leaders should pursue their entrepreneurial ambition by forging economic partnerships with the neighbouring nation to promote core values of unity and peace, she said.
Here are some findings of Buffalo University researchers on Pakistani women:
"Despite the overwhelming media attention to the rise of fundamentalism and Pakistan's geopolitical role in the 'war against terror,' Pakistan has an often-unrevealed side, characterized by an active women's movement that serves as a key democratic force committed to expanding women's rights," Filomena Critelli writes in her study, "Struggle and Hope: Challenging Gender Violence in Pakistan."
Forthcoming in the journal Critical Sociology, Critelli's analysis is based on interviews with activists who founded a legal aid practice to defend women's rights and a private shelter for women fleeing from abuse.
People seldom hear about the activism of these women's groups, Critelli says. But their work and resiliency, often in the face of resistance, harassment and safety threats, should be recognized as much as the elements of fundamentalism that have attracted international headlines.
"Within civil society (in Pakistan), women activists are advocating to implement strategies to limit gender violence as well as provide care for survivors," she writes in the study. "The women's movement continues to negotiate women's interests with the state and society, and has become increasingly effective over time, strengthened by regional and international recognition of its work."
The struggle against abuse against women in Pakistan -- which often reaches graphic proportions such as "honor killings," forced marriages, child marriages and other forms of gender violence -- is seen through a "secular human rights framework" by these activists, according to Critelli, assistant professor of social work at UB. Critelli has authored several studies on gender-based violence and women's rights activism in Pakistan. Her most recent research paper was prepared with her former student, Jennifer Willett.
It's a movement that often surprises people who do not realize the pluralistic Pakistani culture, she says, one that exists with sometimes contradictory elements that include these strong advocates of women's rights, changing political climates and traditional patriarchal social orders that inhibit independence of women.
For example, this vibrant women's rights movement has been active for over 30 years in Pakistan. Pakistan was the first Muslim country to elect a women leader, Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, and has adopted policies that set a quota of 30 percent of reserved seats for women in Parliament. As a result, women's representation in Pakistan's parliament is the highest in South Asia.
Although the women's rights movement is alive and well in Pakistan, the country also is marked by a strongly patriarchal society where male power manifests itself in a high incidence of domestic violence.
"Gender violence is estimated to take place in as many as 80 to 90 percent of the households in Pakistan," notes Critelli. "Gender violence in Pakistan takes a variety of forms, some of which are common across cultures such as marital violence, including verbal abuse, hitting, kicking, slapping, rape and murder, and economic and emotional abuse.
"Other forms of violence are rooted in traditional practices that continue under the guise of social conformism, customs and misinterpretations of religion, that also include exchange marriage, death by burning (stove deaths, which are presented as accidents), acid attacks and nose cutting (a form of humiliation and degradation)," Critelli writes. "Women are also raped and abused while in police custody, which further deters many women from reporting crimes against them."
All these practices are contrary to Pakistani law, human rights treaties ratified by Pakistan, as well as the tenets of Islam...
Here's a Brown Daily Herald report on an upcoming Pakistani documentary "The Other Half of Tomorrow: Women Changing Pakistan":
Samina Quraeshi is a Renaissance woman in every sense of the phrase. A native of Pakistan, she has worn the hats of author, artist, architect, speaker, academic, photographer, curator — and now filmmaker.
Quraeshi presented clips from her upcoming documentary, "The Other Half of Tomorrow: Women Changing Pakistan," to a rapt audience of roughly 30 students and Rhode Island natives Wednesday night in the Perry and Marty Granoff Center for the Creative Arts. The richly detailed and tenderly shot film tells the stories of women in Pakistan trying to make positive changes in their surroundings as entrepreneurs, public health workers and dance instructors, among other jobs.
In an address before the screening, Quraeshi said her motive behind producing the film was to present the human face of a region often vilified in the media.
"I want to use art to introduce complex cultural nuances," she said. "Sensationalist portrayals begin to warp the public's consciousness of the people who live in (Pakistan)."
Soft-spoken and often dryly humorous, Quraeshi also emphasized that understanding a place's history is essential to understanding its culture.
"During the past Bush era, there was a culture of fear on top of a lack of awareness," she told The Herald. "It made people want to get into their houses and watch their TVs, but all the media coverage was doing was propagating stereotypes."
The film preview was part of a national series called "Caravanserai: A Place Where Cultures Meet," which aims to introduce American audiences to contemporary Muslim artists. The Providence nonprofit FirstWorks competed fiercely with organizations across the country to host Caravanserai in the city, said Kathleen Pletcher, executive artistic director of FirstWorks. Only four other U.S. nonprofits earned a spot as a stop on the tour.
"There's this idea of a caravanserai as a place where weary travelers along the road stop and rest and share their stories," Pletcher said. "It's a very collective act. And that's what we're hoping to do here — connect art with audience."
The next Caravanserai event is a Feb. 7 screening of "Made in Pakistan," a documentary from Pakistani filmmaker Ayesha Khan. Quraeshi's film is slated to be released in October.
Here's a report on Pakistan's fast growing entrepreneurial companies:
In the midst of challenging political and economic circumstances, the Pakistan100 broke many AllWorld records in relation to 15 other country rankings in the region, coming in only second to Turkey in terms of entrepreneurial growth and transparency. Many of the companies have been founded in the last ten years, and have already grown to be industry leaders. An average of only 42 years old, most Pakistan100 entrepreneurs plan to establish another company in the next two years.
The Pakistan100 was an unprecedented partnership between AllWorld Network, Cyan Limited, and partners Mishal, P@SHA, LadiesFund, CIOPakistan, TiE, Abacus Consulting and Rozee.PK. Thousands of emails were sent to companies around the country inviting them to compete for a spot on the Pakistan100. Companies had to be rapidly growing private non-listed companies, and they could come from any industry and any part of the country. Each company had to provide audited statements to confirm their revenues and each applicant’s business practices and ethics were strenuously vetted. The fastest growing of these became the inaugural Pakistan100.
Leading the Pakistan100 is number 1 company e2e Supply Chain Management, which grew 1,918 percent between 2008 and 2010, with 2010 revenues above $50 million and 297 employees. Launched in 2005, e2e has risen to become one of the most successful end-to-end logistics companies covering Pakistan and Afghanistan. Taking the second spot for Pakistan was Exceed Private Limited, with a growth rate of 1,320 percent and 90 employees. Founded by the youngest entrepreneur on the Pakistan100, Exceed rose to prominence for its historic restoration of Saidpur Model Village, redeveloped as an 18th Century city-museum with 5,000 residents.
Pakistan also had the most number of women entrepreneurs of any AllWorld list at 8 percent, and 7thranked Luscious Cosmetics of Pakistan topped the list of the fastest growing women entrepreneurs with growth of 392 percent and 82 employees. The Pakistan100 entrepreneurs have built globally competitive businesses with one quarter of their revenues coming from international markets and companies such as ROZEE.PK (#12) having secured VC investment from Silicon Valley.
Commenting on the success of Pakistan100 at the Awards Ceremony, AllWorld co-founders Deirdre Coyle and Anne Habiby urged the Pakistan100 to go further “When no one expected much, the Pakistan100 broke records for growth, transparency and competitiveness. They are the personification of what every country dreams of having. Now raise the bar higher and build Pakistan as a leading entrepreneurial nation.” Added Pakistan100 Founding Director Malik Ahmad Jalal, “As the Pakistan100, you send a signal to everyone in Pakistan and around the world that Pakistan is open for business. There is no more important message to secure peace and prosperity.”
The Pakistan winners are in Lahore for the two-day Pakistan100 Awards & Summit from March 9-10. The Summit will be an action packed two days featuring the Pakistan100 along with prominent speakers, panel discussions, networking sessions, and Pakistan100 Awards Dinner. Over 160 representatives from the winning companies will be in attendance and close to 150 VIPs and influencers.
Here are excerpts of an Op Ed in The Atlantic titled "The White Savior Industrial Complex"
By Teju Cole:
What Africa needs more pressingly than Kony's indictment is more equitable civil society, more robust democracy, and a fairer system of justice.
1- From Sachs to Kristof to Invisible Children to TED, the fastest growth industry in the US is the White Savior Industrial Complex.
Teju Cole @tejucole
2- The white savior supports brutal policies in the morning, founds charities in the afternoon, and receives awards in the evening.
Teju Cole @tejucole
3- The banality of evil transmutes into the banality of sentimentality. The world is nothing but a problem to be solved by enthusiasm.
Teju Cole @tejucole
4- This world exists simply to satisfy the needs—including, importantly, the sentimental needs—of white people and Oprah.
5- The White Savior Industrial Complex is not about justice. It is about having a big emotional experience that validates privilege.
Teju Cole @tejucole
6- Feverish worry over that awful African warlord. But close to 1.5 million Iraqis died from an American war of choice. Worry about that.
Teju Cole @tejucole
7- I deeply respect American sentimentality, the way one respects a wounded hippo. You must keep an eye on it, for you know it is deadly.
These tweets were retweeted, forwarded, and widely shared by readers. They migrated beyond Twitter to blogs, Tumblr, Facebook, and other sites; I'm told they generated fierce arguments. As the days went by, the tweets were reproduced in their entirety on the websites of the Atlantic and the New York Times, and they showed up on German, Spanish, and Portuguese sites. A friend emailed to tell me that the fourth tweet, which cheekily name-checks Oprah, was mentioned on Fox television.
These sentences of mine, written without much premeditation, had touched a nerve. I heard back from many people who were grateful to have read them. I heard back from many others who were disappointed or furious. Many people, too many to count, called me a racist. One person likened me to the Mau Mau. The Atlantic writer who'd reproduced them, while agreeing with my broader points, described the language in which they were expressed as "resentment."
This weekend, I listened to a radio interview given by the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nicholas Kristof. Kristof is best known for his regular column in the New York Times in which he often gives accounts of his activism or that of other Westerners. When I saw the Kony 2012 video, I found it tonally similar to Kristof's approach, and that was why I mentioned him in the first of my seven tweets.
Those tweets, though unpremeditated, were intentional in their irony and seriousness. I did not write them to score cheap points, much less to hurt anyone's feelings. I believed that a certain kind of language is too infrequently seen in our public discourse. I am a novelist. I traffic in subtleties, and my goal in writing a novel is to leave the reader not knowing what to think. A good novel shouldn't have a point. ....
Here's a Samaa TV report on a girl rickshaw driver in Karachi:
A deprived but very bold girl has started rickshaw driving to feed her five-member family in Karachi, SAMAA reported on Monday.
Rubeena is young but not afraid of driving rickshaw on busy roads of Karachi as she is committed to feed her old mother, three sisters and one injured brother.
It is first case of its kind in the largest city of Pakistan, where no female has dared to earn living by driving a rickshaw or taxi up till now.
Rubeena is not familiar with the uncountable roads of the metropolis so, initially she is picking nearby passengers in her area including few regular passengers only.
Few female passengers and other trustworthy regular travelers used to call her on mobile phone number when they need to go somewhere.
Rubeena does not care that what people think about her as a rickshaw driving girl; she just cares about her cause and commitment with the family.
It seems that Rubeena’s bold step will open door for many other brave girls to earn living and change their families’ destiny.
Here's a Financial Times story on a women's only university in Pakistan:
Established in Rawalpindi in 1999 as the first public sector university exclusively for women, the FJWU makes education accessible to women from conservative Muslim homes who would otherwise not be allowed to attend a mainstream university. It also takes female students from impoverished families who cannot afford the exorbitant fees charged by private universities.
“Young women who come to FJWU include many from circumstances beyond your imagination. They come from poor families who are simply unable to afford even a regular bus fare let alone a car,” says Prof Qadir.
The FJWU’s MBA programme accepts about 60 students a year and in the past decade has seen more than 800 students graduate. It is located in the Old Presidency – the former official residence of Pakistan’s heads of state. Previous residents include the late military dictator Zia ul Haq who introduced some of the most rigorous laws targeting women, an irony for those who see FJWU’s role as the empowerment of young women.
Many of FJWU’s students enter the programme under the impression that they will not be taught alongside men. However, the reality of going through an MBA programme soon exposes women to an environment where men and women work side by side. The six-week obligatory internship takes place in a non-segregated environment and students can find themselves working in organisations ranging from the ministry of the environment, to the Pakistan Red Crescent society to the US embassy in Islamabad. The students also find themselves competing aggressively with male students from other universities in events such as job fairs.
“From day one, we push our business students to face the rigour of the practical world” says Prof Qadir.
“The students may step into a segregated campus which is for women only, but they must then face the realities of the practical world. That’s what an MBA programme is all about.”
Here's a story of Pakistan empowering poor Tanzanian women with sewing machines gift:
Twenty five poor women in Dar es Salaam city and its precincts on Friday felt Pakistan’s heartiest greetings of her 72nd national day after they each received a sewing machine to help them fight poverty.
The machines, each worth 100 US Dollars were issued by the High Commissioner for Pakistan in Tanzania, Tajammul Altaf for Tanzania at a brief ceremony at the High Commissioner’s office in the city…
A sigh of relief engulfed Sophia Mngole from Kinondoni area, one of the recipients of the donation. Sophia,37, has since her childhood been working as a house girl in various areas in the country. This was after her mother died when she was still at a tender age.
Poor Sophia had shown great dedication to her house-girl work which has made her live happily with every family she had been labouring for. She has been keeping her meagre pay she received to pay to a tailoring mart so that she could learn the art.
She is now able to make various designs for both male and female customers. That is why owners of the mart have retained her to assist them in their work. She however receives peanuts at the end of the day although her work mints much money for the owner of the mart.
After the Pakistan offer of the sewing machine she only said, ‘God is great.’ She has began to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The future looks bright for her.
‘This machine will liberate me from poverty. The sewing machine will make me raise money to take care of my nine-year old daughter Rispa who is in standard three.
The same feeling was felt by the other 19 recipients of the donation. Smiling, many had even enquired from the Pakistanis at the function how to say ‘Long live Pakistan’ in Urdu which is the national language of Pakistan.
“Pakistan Painda abad,’ meaning Long live Pakistan, they replied to any Pakistanis who greeted them at the function.
A flag hoisting ceremony to mark the 72nd Anniversary of the Pakistan was held at the High Commission for Pakistan in Dar es Salaam.
Here's a VOA report on USAID helping women entrepreneurs in Pakistan:
Despite tensions between Washington and Islamabad, Pakistan remains a major recipient of U.S. foreign aid, including efforts to boost the earning power of women. One such program is helping thousands of embroiderers market their garments and manage their businesses. A mother of seven has quadrupled her monthly income since taking part in the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Entrepreneurs Project.
An accomplished embroiderer with no formal education, Jamila struggled for years to augment her husband’s income by doing stitching and beadwork in a poor Karachi district. Thanks to USAID-funded business training, she now manages a team of embroiderers, spearheading a thriving enterprise.
“My life has been transformed. I am proof that a woman can earn and do something productive for herself and her children,” said Jamila.
She also said the instruction she received from USAID is invaluable.
“The training showed us how to run a successful business. We were taught marketing and improved our skills. We learned to take orders and the importance of on-time deliveries for growing the business,” said Jamila.
Helping female entrepreneurs like Jamila is a cornerstone of USAID’s global anti-poverty efforts.
“If you can effectively engage women in development solutions, you get better results, more sustainability, more kids in school, reduced malnutrition,” said Agency administrator Rajiv Shah.
The strategy has the backing of some American lawmakers who decide USAID funding levels.
“Empowering women is one of the most critical tools in our toolbox to fight poverty and injustice,” said Democratic Senator Ben Cardin.
At a time of runaway U.S. debt, many lawmakers want assurances that foreign aid money is wisely spent and generates real results.
“Our national debt has grown to more than $15 trillion. This scenario brings great pressure to our government’s financial obligations, and places our entire economy at some risk. In this context, the dollars available for global development will necessarily be limited,” said Republican Senator Richard Lugar.
In Pakistan, training provided by USAID helps to build a lifetime of higher incomes for women like Jamila.
"I am now earning up to 2,000 rupees [$22] a month, up from 450 rupees [$5], and 40 other women are working with me. I hope even more will come forward after seeing how my life has been changed,” said Jamila.
Here's an excerpt from Newsweek Pakistan on women entrepreneurs:
What inspired you to start your own businesses?
Roshaneh Zafar: I never thought I’d start my own business at 27, but I met [Grameen founder] Dr. Muhammad Yunus at a conference and he changed my life. He talked about women’s economic empowerment and how a simple loan could change lives. I spent time with him in Bangladesh and he encouraged me to help Pakistani women [with microfinance opportunities]. He said if I fail, I could blame it all on him.
Ambarine Bukharey: I started gemstone exports in 1989 and never thought this would become a serious business. I was the first woman in this line, and I think so far the only one who’s also mining. When I first went out in the markets in Peshawar to buy gemstones, all these men would just stop and stare and laugh at me. They were highly skeptical. But now we’re one big happy family. Now I can sit with five or six Pathans in the middle of the night examining stones. I feel safe now, because they look after you like family.
Sajida Zulfiqar Khan: I started this furniture business after my husband died. People here and abroad have been very responsive to our work.
Nasreen Kasuri: I’m afraid my story is not as glamorous as the rest. I started out in 1975 when my own children were starting school. I looked around for the right nursery school in town, and felt that none of them was suitable for children aged 2 and 3. So I started my own Montessori in Lahore. After that it was just a series of fortunate coincidences.
Zeenat Saeed Ahmed: I was bored with marriage. So I started making little gifts and set up a small boutique store, Sehr. Later, I set up a garment factory and had 600 people working for me at one time. In 1993 I went bankrupt, so I closed down and also got divorced the same year. It wasn’t a happy time. When I ran out of whatever little money I had left, I decided to start Taneez. I started from home, and when we did our first store in 2000 it was an instant success.
Did you face any resistance from your families in striking out on your own?
Khan: A little, but it gets better every day.
Kasuri: I didn’t really face any resistance, not in the beginning. They thought this was just a hobby which would keep me busy and out of mischief.
What do you consider your first achievement in the profession? When did you realize you had made it?
Zafar: It took me 10 months after setting up Kashf to organize women in groups and encourage the concept of women working at home or in the community. There were these five women who were the first risk takers, who took Rs. 4,000 to start their business some 18 years ago. It was just incredible when the first repayment installment came in and then the next; these women had begun to feel confident because they could invest in a business, earn and actually be able to repay their loans.
Bukharey: For me it was being able to break through the culture of the male-dominated mining market and become accepted as an equal.
Khan: My business is pretty simple. Every woman in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa told me this would be a difficult business, dealing with labor and everything. But it has worked and I’m pretty happy about it.
Kasuri: What I started was very small. For the first few years it didn’t make any money, and that didn’t matter. I was doing my own accounts. Every time I was short of money I would put some money in and keep it going. When it did finally make money I was quite excited, except that real accountants told me I hadn’t made any money. They put in the amortization and depreciation and told me I had actually lost money. So it took me some time to figure out that when you think you have made money, you haven’t really.
Ahmed: When I got my first check something like 35 years ago, I was pretty excited...
Here's an excerpt of Summitpost story on Pakistani woman mountain climber Samina Baig:
The Pakistan Youth Outreach Second Climbing Expedition in winter to Mingligh sar 6050m was indeed amazing, Samina Baig being the first woman from Pakistan to go on a winter attempt in the Karakorum was a great mile stone in Pakistani women’s adventure history.Samina Baig who had topped Chashkin Sar Peak,which was uncllimbed, in August-Septermber 2010. The team along with Samina set High Camp at nearly 5525m which was new for any girl from Pakistan in winter and pushed for the summit the next day. Due to extreme cold and insufficient clothing for Samina (due to financial constraints) mainly down jacket and pants, the team decided to return approximately 150m short of the summit. Samina reached the height of approximately 5900m. Later the weather turned to hell and we called off the Expedition however the PYO first basic mountaineering training camp for young school boys and girls was very successful.This expedition was dedicated to all those who have been affected by the floods in Pakistan this year.
Since Karakorum has different weather conditions, the winter arrives late November in the high mountains of Karakorum, according to the calendar year it has been said that December climbing expeditions are not a full calendar year expedition. However a few years back the Alpine club of Pakistan organized a climbing expedition to Peer Peak in the Karakorum which was named “Winter Expedition”. Similarly there was another expedition in November by locals which was also named Winter Expedition. Looking at the extreme weather situation in the high mountains, December and January is normally considered winter in the Karakorum, Pamir area hence the expedition is also Winter Expedition.
The expedition kicked off on the 8th of December 2010 after three days acclimatization in Shimshal Valley. We hired 12 porters, two cooks and Mr Yausaf Khan, former army climber as our expedition advisor. The first day was spent at Korband. During the winter days are short and most streams at different summer camp sites get frozen therefore the first night spent at Korband was pretty chilly and there was a lot of frost in the tents. After a steep climb of Ghar Sar the next day the team managed to reach Uch Forzeen in 9 hours, the chill was great though the day was sunny. Uch Forzeen provided us with good shelter for cooking in the hut but sleeping in the tent was pretty hard, at midnight I found my sleeping bag frosty and frozen half due to my breathing but a great adventure all the same! Uch Forzeen to Arbon Purian was a nice journey, the frozen slopes of Arbon Purian were nice for practice and play adventure in the cold climate.
Here's an AP report on Benazir Income Support program in Pakistan:
Clutching photocopied ID cards in bony fingers, a roomful of Pakistan's poorest women sit on gray plastic chairs and wait in silence for something many have never experienced: a little bit of help from the government.
It comes in the form of a debit card that is topped up with the equivalent of $30 every three months, enough to put an extra daily meal on the table, buy a school uniform or pay for medical treatment in a country where soaring food and fuel costs are hurting millions who already live hand-to-mouth.
The program is something of a success story for a government widely seen as corrupt and inefficient, as well as for international donors that help implement and fund it. But the very need for the scheme highlights the poverty stalking a country whose stability is seen as key to the fight against Islamist extremism.
Other cash-transfer programs in Pakistan have been plagued by graft and allegations that only supporters of the party in power received the funds. Many feared this program, named after Benazir Bhutto, the late wife of President Asif Ali Zardari, would go the same way.
But that hasn't happened, at least not significantly. The Benazir Income Support Programme is modeled on similar efforts in Africa and South America, part of a quiet revolution in the way countries and development agencies are helping the poor. Initial concerns that recipients would fritter away the money have proven unfounded, and giving cash is now accepted as a vital and cost-effective aid tool.
"I spend the money on my kids, what else would I do?" said Rifat Parveen, a mother of five who sometimes has to serve only bread and boiled chili peppers for the evening meal. "Even if a poor person gets 10 rupees (5 cents), he or she will be grateful."
When a woman is called, she goes to a room where her identity is checked against an electronic database and her thumb print taken electronically. A bank employee then gives her the card — and a crash course in how to use it — before she returns to her village.
As they do elsewhere in the world, women in Pakistan must receive the money on behalf of their families because research shows they spend it more responsibly than men do. They must also first obtain a valid identity card to be eligible. Both requirements have been credited with pushing women, discriminated against in Pakistan, a little into the mainstream.
Here's a special CNN report on a Pakistani village by Wajahat Ali:
This is a story affecting millions of Pakistanis — and it does not involve suicide bombings, honor killings, extremism or President Zardari's mustache.
"What would you like to be when you grow up?" I asked Sakafat, a boisterous 12-year-old girl, while visiting a remote Pakistani village in the Sindh province.
"A scientist!" she immediately replied. "Why can't we be scientists? Why not us?"
The confident Sakafat lives in Abdul Qadir Lashari village, which is home to 500 people in Mirpur Sakro. It is in one of the most impoverished regions of Pakistan.
There was a characteristic resilience and optimism in this particular village. This should come as no surprise to anyone who knows anything about Pakistan's often dysfunctional, surreal yet endearing daily existence.
The 500 villagers live in 48 small huts, except for the one "wealthy" family who recently built a home made of concrete. The village chief, Abdul Qadir Lashari, proudly showed off his village's brand-new community toilets, paved roads, and water pump that brings fresh water to the village.
These simple, critical amenities, taken for granted by most of us in the West, resulted from the direct assistance of the Rural Support Programmes Network, Pakistan's largest nongovernmental organization. RSPN has worked with thousands of similar Pakistani villages to help them achieve economic self-sufficiency.
I visited the Sindh village with RSPN to witness the results of using community organizing to alleviate poverty. The staff told me its goal was to teach villagers to "fish for themselves."
Every household in the Abdul Qadir Lashari village was able to reach a profit by the end of 2011 as a result of professional skills training, financial management, community leadership workshops and microloans.
Specifically, a middle-aged, illiterate woman proudly told me how she learned sewing and financial management and was thus able to increase her household revenue, manage her bills, and use a small profit to purchase an extra cow for the family. She was excited to introduce me to her cow, but sadly due to lack of time I was unable to make the bovine acquaintance.
Asked what single thing she felt was most important most for her village, she replied education. Upon asking another elderly lady what she wishes for Pakistan, she repeated one word three times: "sukoon," which means peace.
When it was time to depart, the people of the village presented me with a beautiful handmade Sindhi shawl, an example of the craftwork the villagers are now able to sell for profit.
As I left the village with the dark red, traditional Sindhi shawl adorned around my neck, my thoughts returned to the 12-year-old girl, Sakafat, who passionately asked why she couldn't become a scientist.
I looked in her eyes and could only respond with the following: "You're right. You can be anything you want to be. And I have every confidence you will, inshallah ("God willing"), reach your manzil ("desired destination").
By focusing on education and local empowerment to lift the next generation out of poverty, Sakafat's dream could indeed one day become a reality for all of Pakistan.
Here's a Times of India report on women migrant workers from India & Pakistan:
NEW DELHI: India and Pakistan together account for 71% of international female migrants from South Asia. While 2.7 million were from India, about 1.9 million female migrants came from Pakistan.
Widespread poverty, unemployment at home and wage differences at the destination have triggered international labour migration from India to Gulf countries, according to a study 'Migration of Women Workers from South Asia to the Gulf'.
The study by UN Women and the V V Giri Labour Institute analyzed the current situation in five major sending countries of South Asia - Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka - and six major receiving countries of the Gulf region - Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Women are half of international migrants, comprising 49.6% of 190 million migrant workers. A majority of these women migrate alone as domestic workers to make more money or to support their families with an ever-increasing proportion of migrants from South Asia migrating to the Gulf region, where the demand for domestic workers, especially female workers, is high.
In 2010, about 6.45 million international female migrants originated from South Asia. Of these, 71% came from India and Pakistan. Saudi Arabia was the Gulf country that received the highest proportion of Indian migrant workers.
"Most of the low-skilled women migrants are caught in a web of marginal existence, on account of being women and low-skilled migrants working in the confines of the households where the piercing eyes of labour law do not reach," Anne F Stenhammer, regional programme director of UN Women South Asia said.
The report recommended making policy discourse more sensitive to the needs of women migrant workers, coordinated regional interventions by sending countries and countries of employment, standard operating procedures for gender sensitive labour migration management and joint response by UN agencies and intergovernmental bodies.
"The impact of the migration of women workers is much broader than its immediate economic aspect. There is great potential of such migration to bring forth the social and political empowerment of women, and reshape gender power relations," Dr S K Sasikumar, V V Giri National Institute lead author, said.
Here's an ET article by economist Shahid Burki on the rise of women in Pakistan:
Over the last 17 years, from 1993 to 2010, the number of girls enrolled in primary education has increased from 3.7 million to 8.3 million. This implies a growth rate of 6.7 per cent a year, about two and half times the rate of increase in the number of girls entering the primary school-going cohort. However, even with this impressive rate of increase, it is worrying that girls still account for less than one half — the proportion was 44.3 per cent in 2010 — of the total number of children in school.
It is in higher education that girls have made a most spectacular advance. The numbers of girls attending what are described as ‘professional colleges’ has increased in the same 17-year period, at a rate of eight per cent per annum. In 1993, there were only 100,400 girls attending these institutions. Their number increased to more than 261,000 in 2010. There are now more girls in these institutions than boys. Their proportion in the total population of these colleges has increased from 36 per cent to 57 per cent in this period.
It is attendance in the universities, though where the real revolution has occurred. There were less than 15,000 girls in these institutions in 1993; their number increased to 436,000 in 2010. The proportion of girls is approaching the 50 per cent mark with the rate of growth in their numbers an impressive 28 per cent a year. While a very large number of girls drop out between the primary stage and the stage of professional and university education, the numbers completing higher education is now much greater. Three quarter of a million girls are now leaving the institutions of higher learning every year.
There are a number of sectors in modern areas of the economy where women now make up a significant part of the workforce. These include the traditional areas where educated women have been active for decades. These include teaching and medicine. However, more recently, as the number of women with high levels of skills increased, they have become players in sectors such as banking, communications, law and politics. Women also now makeup a significant proportion of the workforce in companies engaged in IT work. Some IT experts have estimated that in their sector, there are tens of thousands of women working in what they call ‘cottage businesses’. These are women with good computer skills, who are working from their homes undertaking small contractual work for members of their families or their friends who are living and working abroad. Some estimates suggest that more than a billion dollars worth of work gets done in these informal establishments. These are, by large, one-person shops that receive payments through informal transactions. However, it is the entry of women in the entrepreneurial field where the real revolution is occurring. I will take up that subject in this space next week.
Here's an ESPN report on Pakistani women cricketers receiving central contracts from PCB:
The PCB has awarded central contracts to 17 women cricketers for the year 2012, reducing the number of signings from last year's pool of 19. Mariam Hassan Shah, Sania Iqbal Khan and Asmavia Iqbal are the new players to earn the 12-month contract for the first time while 2011 contract holders Kainat Imtiaz, Faryal Awan, Areeb Shamaim and Masooma Junaid have missed out this year.
Seam bowler Qanita Jalil, who was in category B last year, has been promoted to category A, while Sania Iqbal, who missed out on a contract last year after sustaining an injury during the Asian Games, was included in category C.
Elizebath Khan and Masooma Junaid, who have been selected for the upcoming tour of Ireland and England, are the two notable exclusions from the list.
Pakistan's next assignment starts from August 18 in Ireland, where the women cricketers will participate in a tri-nation series involving the hosts and Bangladesh. The team, thereafter, will play 7 Twenty20 matches in England against various teams (including England women, England Under-19 women and West Indies women).
"We have picked up the best possible 17 women cricketers for the contracts," Ayesha Ashar, PCB women wing's manager, told ESPNcricinfo. "Those who are left out shouldn't be discouraged and should try to win back the top contact by performing well. Contracts are meant to reward players who are consistent and contributing significantly at domestic and internationally."
The PCB in 2011, initiated an unprecedented move to sign women cricketers, giving an opportunity to the women to play full-time cricket in a bid to boost the national team's performance at major tournaments.
The list of players awarded contracts:
Category A: Sana Mir, Javeria Wadood, Nain Abidi, Bismah Maroof, Qanita Jalil, Sadia Yousaf
Category B: Nida Dar, Asmavia Iqbal, Marina Iqbal, Batool Fatima, Rabiya Shah
Category C: Mariam Hassan Shah, Sana Gulzar, Sidra Ameen, Sania Iqbal Khan, Nahida Khan, Namra Imran
Salam Riaz sahab, jo time and effort you put to get all those reports are salute-able, I am a TV producer/ director currently working on a documentary project to highlight successful Pakistani women. I am sure you will be good advice to have, please spare some time to discuss it in detail. khush rehiye.
Here's an excerpt from an NBC report on Pakistan's Gen Y women:
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Khalida Brohi's new life began when another girl's life ended.
Born and raised in Pakistan's remote, conservative province of Balochistan, Brohi was 16 years old when the community's traditions collided with her own personal beliefs.
"I found out about a girl who was murdered in the name of honor," she recalls. "I knew her and why she was killed. She wanted to marry someone she liked and she was killed just for that. When I found out about this girl, I knew that was the turning point in my life."
While still a teenager, Brohi founded Sughar Women's Program, a nonprofit organization with the mission of educating women about their basic rights. In many conservative communities across Pakistan, a woman's world extends only so far as the walls of her home. Their social interactions are restricted to family members and opportunities are defined by husbands, fathers and elder brothers.
But training and micro-loans provided by Brohi's group have resulted in CDs, books and embroidered handbags the women produce being sold across the country as well as at a flagship Sughar store in Karachi.
Now 23, Brohi is somewhat of a veteran in her field, and she's not alone.
All over Pakistan, where the majority of the 180-million-strong population is under the age of 30, members of Brohi's generation are striking out on their own to work toward change in their country, at an age when most are still finding their footing in life.
These social innovators, "change-makers" and "new radicals," as they've been called, represent an increasingly influential segment of civil society, in a country where the decision-making power has always been confined to limited circles....
Here's a Nation story on women entrepreneurship in Pakistan:
Vital role of female entrepreneurs can help in improving the economic conditions of Pakistan. Therefore Khushhalibank joined hands with Dawood Global Foundation (DGF), Dawood Capital Management Limited (DCM) and Higher Education Commission (HEC) to promote women entrepreneurship by sponsoring the third LADIESFUND Entrepreneurship Conference, themed Cutting Edge Entrepreneurship (LEC 2012), recently held in Karachi.
Khushhalibank President Ghalib Nishtar said we are pleased to sponsor this dynamic event. The LADIESFUND Conference is a platform where women are supported and celebrated as the nucleus of change and betterment in the family unit, a vision that is a mainstay at Khushhalibank. This year, LEC 2012 hosted Pakistan’s first Student Entrepreneurship Exhibition which showcased the work of deaf student entrepreneurs as well as handicapable student entrepreneurs, an effort to celebrate the especially gifted disabled students of our community.”
Additionally the event served as a fundraising effort with partial proceeds directed towards ovarian cancer awareness as well as LADIESFUND(r) Fellowships and Scholarships, the awards for which are to be presented at the 5th LADIESFUND(r) Women’s Awards in March 2013.
Here's a Washington Post story on working women driving retail boom in Pakistan:
LAHORE, Pakistan — A perfectly coiffed model, draped in diamonds, shoots a sultry gaze from the cover of a glossy in-room magazine at a luxury hotel chain in downtown Lahore. The cover line on the ad-packed issue screams: “Wow! World of Women.”
And with good reason. Economists say that, in recent years, Pakistani women have fueled a retail boom in name-brand shopping as they move from a traditional homebound life into the working world.
“You can go into any shopping mall or any cafe, and you will see young girls sitting, having lunch, chatting away,” said Rashid Amjad, vice chancellor at the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics in Islamabad. “Despite all this conservatism that has been growing at the same time, you have a change.”
In many urban centers, the days when girls were forced to abandon education and eschew employment in favor of remaining within the walls of their homes seem to be mostly a memory.
Traditionally, men here bear the burden of sustaining the household, so for many middle-class women, their paychecks are entirely their own to spend — a boon for the newly booming retail industry.
“I can afford to spend whatever I like,” said Rabiya Bajwa, 37, a lawyer. “My income is roughly 20 percent more than what it was five years ago.” Bajwa does contribute to the household budget, but her two-income family enjoys a comfortable “cushion,” and she splurges on expensive designer clothes.
But this good fortune is not evenly distributed, said Hafiz Pasha, a noted economist at Beaconhouse National University in Lahore. Pakistan, he said, is still far behind other countries in terms of women’s economic contribution.
“This growth is witnessed in urban centers where middle-class working women are found,” Pasha said. “In rural areas, although the participation of women in the economy is more than the urban centers, they are not well-paid, and their share in the economy is much less.”
Although women have long been underpaid and subject to discrimination in the Pakistani workforce, they are coming into their own at a surprising rate. Since about 2002, Amjad said, participation by women, traditionally low, has been rising.
Many men left agriculture jobs, so work was being generated and women readily moved in, Amjad noted. Now, somewhere between 28 percent and 36 percent of women work in Pakistan, he said, but many work in home-based businesses, so their numbers are not easily ascertained.
In schools and colleges, young women study side by side with their male counterparts. “They seem to be very easy together, they talk very easily, and they discuss issues quite comfortably,”Amjad said, “so in a way higher education has increased female confidence to work with men, and that has helped.”
Three retail store owners surveyed in Lahore said most of their customers are working women, and they credited them with increasing their business.
“We started from a small store, but now we have five outlets in various parts of the city,” said Hasan Ali, manager of Bareeze, a leading brand of women’s clothing. “We have been in the market for the last 10 years, and roughly the business has expanded 40 percent in that period. . . . There are those out there who don’t even ask the price, and pay.”
Rukhsana Anjum, 47, a senior instructor at the Government College of Technology in Lahore, said she earns about 100,000 rupees, or $1,054, a month. “Gradually in the last five years I have become brand-conscious,” she said. “Today, definitely I spend more on my clothes and jewelry.”
Here's NY Times on female Muslim Imams in China:
BEIJING — Could an old religious tradition from China help solve one of the world’s most pressing problems — violence committed in the name of Islam?
The irony of an officially atheist country possibly offering a way out of an international religious problem is intense. Yet that is what some Islamic scholars in China and elsewhere hope may happen as they point to a quietly liberal tradition among China’s 10 million Hui Muslims, where female imams and mosques for women are flourishing in a globally unique phenomenon.
Female imams and women’s mosques are important because their endurance in China offers a vision of an older form of Islam that has inclusiveness and tolerance, not marginalization and extremism, at its core, the scholars say.
Female imams and women’s mosques are not “a new thing here. It’s just a cultural tradition that was never interfered with,” Ms. Shui, an author and researcher at the Henan Academy of Social Sciences in Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan Province, said in an interview.
That is what makes it so important, said Khaled Abou El Fadl, a prominent Islamic legal scholar.
“The Chinese tradition of women’s mosques is rooted in Islamic history. It is not novel, a corruption or innovation or some type of heretical practice,” Mr. Abou El Fadl, a professor of Islamic law at the University of California, Los Angeles, said in a recorded interview.
China’s liberal Hui tradition therefore challenges the power of Wahhabism, a puritanical, patriarchal sect dominant in Saudi Arabia today that is behind much Islamic extremism, he said.
“The Chinese example preserves and reminds Muslims of an important jurisprudential and historical phenomenon that Wahhabism tried to wipe out,” he said.
“Contemporary fundamentalist movements use the space provided by the mosque to affirm all types of patriarchy and male power over women,” he said. “When you have something like the Chinese example, which ultimately empowers women to work within their own space and lead prayer and manage that space on their own, it’s a significant form of women asserting themselves in the Islamic tradition, helping in constructing it and perpetuating it.”
“I always see Islam in places in China as reminding Muslims of their authentic tradition before it was impacted by petrol dollars and this very gruff and dry form of Bedouin Islam that came out of Saudi Arabia,” said Mr. Abou El Fadl. “So the point is there’s an old, historically rooted tradition, and the Chinese, if they tap into this tradition, they can effectively provide resistance or examples of resistance to puritanical Islam.”
Muslims arrived in China during the Tang dynasty, more than 1,000 years ago, and their numbers swelled during the Yuan dynasty in the 13th century. Mostly from Persia and Central Asia, though some were Arabs, they brought with them traditions that had always emphasized women’s education, said Ms. Shui. But women’s status really took off in the early Qing dynasty, more than 300 years ago, when the numbers of Hui declined as they were absorbed into the majority Han Chinese culture, she said.
By then, she said, “most Muslims couldn’t read or speak Arabic. So they relied on women to spread the word, to educate. It wasn’t possible to rely just on the men. There weren’t enough of them.”
Far away, in the Arab world, Wahhabism began spreading....
Here's BR on Darawt dam to help Jamshoro farmers, including land for landless women farmers:
Divisional Commissioner Hyderabad Ahmed Bux Narejo has directed the executing authorities of Darawat Dam project to keep their ongoing works continue as per their schedule and assured that the matter for land acquisition pertaining to development works of project would be resolved very soon on priority basis.
He also directed the Deputy Commissioner Jamshoro and Deputy Commissioner Thatta to conduct the survey of the land coming in the utilisation of Dam, ascertain its status, whether it was private or government land and also identified that it has been processed for section 4 or not. This he said while presiding over a meeting regarding allotment of land to the management of Darawat Dam held at his main office today. Deputy Commissioner Jamshoro Agha Sohail, Deputy Commissioner Thatta Mohammad Nawaz Sohu, Project Director of the project Gul Mohammad Junejo, Iqbal Shaikh from Wapda attended the meeting.
Addressing the meeting, Ahmed Bux Narejo said that President Asif Ali Zardari was taking keen interest in the early implementation of the project. He said that this project to conserve 1,21,000 acre ft of flood water from its catchments area Nai Baran scattered over 3150 square KM and to irrigate 25,000 acre of district Thatta. He said that this Dam to bring Socio-Economic upliftment of remoted areas of Sindh and to pave the way for irrigation, fisheries development, women emancipation, provision of water for domestic and drinking purpose, providing employment and recreational facilities as well. He said that during the first phase, 100 women landless Haries have been identified by Revenue Department and National Rural Support Programme jointly and added that each to be allotted up to 25 acres of land after completing all formalities as per revised land grant policy of the PPP government.
The Project Director Gul Mohammad Junejo while briefing to the meeting said that the reservoir area of the project falls in Jamshoro district, where as its command area falls in Thatta district. He said that this Dam located across Nai Baran near Jhangri Village in Jamshoro District, 70 KM west of Hyderabad. He said that the Dam has source of water from Hill torrential scattered over the area of 3150 square Kilo meters in lower Kherthar range. He said that now the executing works by the Chinese company Sinohydro-MAJ (JV) involve in this task heading toward reservoir and its command areas where some problems of land acquisition have been arisen. He said that the work on this project was going at full swing.
Here's an excerpt from an Express Tribune story on rise in Pakistani women in workplace:
according to the 2011 Pakistan Employment Trends Report, compiled by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, female labour force participation has jumped from 16.3% in 2000 to 24.4% in 2011. That jump represents an extra seven million women in the work force.
So who are these women? There is very little specific research on the profiles of women who have entered the workforce, but the 2012 Economic Survey of Pakistan, issued by the federal finance ministry, states that a major proportion of the rise appears to be taking place in urban areas. The government does not break down employment data by specific sectors or levels, but it appears – at least from anecdotal evidence – that women are entering the workforce, to varying degrees, at most levels and virtually all sectors.
Their reasons for joining the workforce have also not been documented in detail, but there are at least a few statistics that provide hints about their motivations. Education levels appear to be rising across the board, and fertility rates are hitting an all-time low virtually every year. Pakistani women are better educated and are less burdened with child-care than at any time in history (much more than men, but less than their predecessors a generation ago.)
Another factor appears to be need: according to The Express Tribune’s analysis of data provided by the Household Integrated Economic Survey, the bottom 20% of households in Pakistan have not seen their incomes keep pace with inflation. Many patriarchal households have had to abandon their traditionalist strictures against women working outside the home and let their female relatives work to bring in more income.
Seven million women is not a number to be trifled with: while women have yet to crack the glass ceiling in Pakistan (representation at senior levels of management remains shamefully low), they are beginning to gain increasing economic clout. And this increased clout is changing the way business is done in Pakistan, largely by making it more inclusive than it used to be.
Many companies, for instance, have caught on to the idea that female customers have money to spend, but may not necessarily be comfortable speaking to male salespersons, regardless of how friendly or courteous they may be. That, in turn, has led to the rise in hiring of female staff members, creating stable corporate-style employment opportunities for blue-collar women. The rising spending power of upper-middle class women is helping their lower-middle and working class sisters get jobs.
It is also perhaps not a coincidence that the first Pakistani law against sexual harassment in the workplace was passed in 2011. Perhaps politicians now feel that urban women are an increasingly important electoral constituency.
And the rise in female consumers has also given birth to a new breed of female entrepreneurs in Pakistan. This is a game being played not just by the daughters of rich businessmen, but also by more working class women, aided by government efforts like the incubation centres set up by the Punjab government in Lahore, and the state-owned First Women’s Bank providing lending facilities.
Here's an ET report on women entrepreneurs in Pakistan:
The Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority (Smeda) organised the Women Business Incubation Centre (WBIC) in Pakistan to promote women’s participation in the consumer sector. The major goal of the project is to provide a protected and hassle-free business environment to women entrepreneurs and to help them develop business skills that will enable them to compete successfully in the modern marketplace.
“Pakistani women entrepreneurs need to start inventing their own business concepts,” said Asma Maryam, project director of WBIC while talking to The Express Tribune.
Majority of women entrepreneurs fall within the 20 to 40 years age group. Women entrepreneurial ventures can create jobs, in which women are either the owner or the sales staff, Maryam added.
All the facilities provided by Smeda in WBIC like, electricity, gas, telephone bills, security are at a nominal rent of Rs7,260 per month, she added.
There are two operational WBICs in Pakistan; one is in Lahore and the other in Peshawar. Centres in Quetta, Swat and Karachi are under construction. The Karachi project will be operational very soon. The Sindh government approved two more WBICs in Karachi, said Alamgeer Chaudhry, general manager of Smeda, Lahore while talking to The Express Tribune.
The funds are provided by the government but these projects may face financial constraints as Smeda’s funding will be suspended by the next fiscal year. Smeda is approaching international donors to fund the project. For this purpose, the University of Southern Queensland Australia and Lahore College for Women University have expressed their interest, he added.
Women are likely to buy products if they are sold by women, which has increased revenues of the women’s business centre by 60%, said Shahida Tahir, shopkeeper in WBIC in Lahore, while talking to The Express Tribune. She added that women were earning handsome profits because of this project and hoped that if granted increased funding, the project will open doors to more upcoming female entrepreneurs.
Huma Kiran, a designer in WBIC, said that previously, she was earning Rs15,000 per month by designing dresses at her home. But now her income has jumped three-fold to Rs50,000 after she managed to find a shop in the Smeda centre.
Mehwish Zahid, a customer at WBIC, said that she was feeling more comfortable while purchasing goods from women.
She said that lack of motivation coupled with limited capital and skilled workers are the main causes of economic backwardness of females.
There is a need to setup both general and specialist support organisations in the country at various levels to encourage this sector. This can be done by financial institutions, business organisations and concerned governmental departments.
Mena bazaar of Karachi is the best bazaar where women are doing business; the government of Punjab should also organise such bazaars in Punjab to promote the culture of women entrepreneurs.
David Ogilvy, founder of Ogilvy and Mather, used to say "The consumer is not a moron, she is your wife." Here's an ET story on marketing FMCG to women:
With more women participating in the country’s work force, fast moving consumer goods companies (FMCGs) seem to have found a new market for products that they once considered ‘a small category’.
Take for example feminine hygiene products – referred to as ‘quiet products’ in the advertising world. According to industry sources, it used to be a very small category – however, this does not seem to be the case anymore especially when one looks at ongoing ad campaigns marketing such products.
These products are portrayed more openly in television ads today than a few years ago – one can also notice gigantic billboards on main thoroughfares of city displaying these products.
The increase in ad campaigns of ‘quiet products’ has helped FMCGs increase their revenues manifold in the respective category; according to Saad Hashmi, Senior Accounts Manager, Client Services and Business Development at Orient Advertising.
Some ten years ago, Hashmi said, women from elite and upper-income classes were the main customers of feminine hygiene products but now, even urban middle class women are buying it.
Explaining, Hashmi said, over the past few years the participation of the middle-class women in education and labour rose significantly thus increasing their awareness and income respectively. They are more adaptive to such products for they have that additional income to do so; he said.
Hashmi, who has worked with FMCGs on advertising such products, further said that heavy marketing of these products created awareness about brands, which increased demand of branded products. Some ten years ago, he said, there was no concept of branded products due to lack of awareness; women mostly used standard napkins or plain old cotton for personal hygiene. Giving an example of a famous brand that is currently advertising its product on TV, he said, the company carried out an awareness campaign on the sidelines of their ad campaign.
The source, however, acknowledged that their sales for feminine hygiene products have increased, linking it to various factors.
Today’s consumers, the source said, have developed more sophisticated shopping habits because they have got more money. Raw fabric or cotton, the alternate option, has little to no cost while branded products have a cost; the source said – an indication that these women are willing to spend on quality. These products, the source said, are a convenience for working women and even come in small sachets that are affordable by the low income sectors.
The source, however, did not rule out the media’s role as far as awareness is concerned. Media has helped increase awareness about feminine hygiene products, he said. It, therefore, amplified demand for such products.
Unlike both FMCGs and advertising agencies, the working women, The Express Tribune spoke to, disagreed if their choices were affected by ad campaigns. According to these women – one of whom does not even have a TV at home – they are not bothered about ads as long as their trusted brand does not compromise on quality. These women, however, agreed that it is their own or family’s income, which made it easy for them to choose between cheap raw fabric and costly feminine hygiene products.
“In the past, I would spend on necessities only,” said one woman, adding, “but now I have to maintain my personality because I work so I spend on luxuries as well. I have become more brand-conscious.”
Here's an ET piece by Shahid Burki on women i the work force:
Pakistan has one of the world’s youngest populations in the world with a median age of about 22 years. This means that one-half of the population, or 90.5 million, is below that age. A much larger share of this population should be in the workforce. If this were the case, the country would be benefiting from what the economists call the demographic window of opportunity, when the proportion of the working population is much greater than those who are dependent on it. This would be realised if both men and women of working age were able to work. This is not the case in Pakistan. The proportion of men in the workforce is relatively high; 68.6 per cent. That of women is very low; only 31.4 per cent. This means that while 63.5 million men are in the workforce, the number of working women is only 29 million.
This does not mean that millions of women are sitting idly in their homes. In fact, most of them are doing a great deal of housework looking after their children, preparing food for the family, and in the countryside, often tending farm animals. Would getting them out of the house and into the workforce add to the country’s gross output? The answer is, probably yes, if the marginal return to their work in the marketplace is higher than what would be paid to those who would be called in to provide help in the house. This will be the case certainly among the middle-income households in the urban areas. By stepping outside their homes, middle-income women will create opportunities for those women lower down on the income scale. This will produce a ripple effect in the economy or in the language of economics a ‘multiplier’ will get to work.
This brings me to one of the ‘what ifs… ?’ questions about the situation in Pakistan. What would be the impact on the economy — to its size and the rate of growth — if the proportion of women in the workforce reached, not quite the level attained by men, but close to it, say 50 per cent. This would mean an addition of 25 million women to the labour force. This addition to the workforce will have the capacity to add $85 billion to the gross domestic product of $200 billion — an increase of 42.5 per cent. With this increase in the country’s GDP, income per capita will increase from the current $1,100 to $1,575. In other words, women could make a larger contribution to the economy if they are allowed to be part of the workforce. But for that to happen, the society will have to lift the many burdens that weigh down women and prevent them from contributing to the economy.
63% of students entering medical colleges in Punjab are female this year, reports Dawn:
LAHORE, Dec 2: Female students have again considerably outnumbered the male in the fresh admissions to the public sector medical colleges of Punjab for the session 2012-13, it is learnt.
According to the data available with Dawn, out of total 2,942 students who secured admissions on open merit seats for the session 2012-13 at the public sector medical institutions of the province, 63.3 per cent were female while 36.7 per cent male, showing a visible gender-wise difference.
The data was compiled by the admission section of the University of Health Sciences under ‘MBBS Admission Statistics 2012-13’.
The figures showed continuity of the trend being witnessed for the last many years that the medical profession had become preferred choice for females as compared to the male students.
A senior official of the varsity said the girls’ considerably larger share in the admissions to the state-run medical institutions was one of the factors behind shortage of doctors at the government hospitals.
Explaining the dynamics of this situation, he said, “Only 10 per cent of the female students admitted to various state-run medical institutions joined the medical profession after securing their MBBS degrees while the rest either left before or after completing the house job”.
This showed that in majority of the cases medical degree was considered just a means to secure a better groom for the girls having such qualification, he said, adding the practice had flourished to the extent that a coinage, ‘medical marriage’ was being used for it.
According to the data, Lahore was at the top among the districts from where a majority of female students got admissions to the state-run medical institutions as out of total 627 admissions, 452 were of females while only 175 were male.
Faisalabad, Multan and Gujranwala were other major districts from where a majority of female students appeared and got admissions to various medical colleges of the province. According to the statistics, of 250 students admitted from Faisalabad, 158 were female and 92 male. Similarly, of 230 admitted medical students, 139 were female and 91 male from Multan and out of total 146 students, 102 female and 44 male belonged to Gujranwala.
Even in the backward districts like Bhakar, Layyah, Bahawalnagar where higher education was considered a low priority for girls, the number of female medical students was higher than that of the male.
Area-wise distribution of candidates admitted from central Punjab showed that out of total 1,839 students who got admissions to government medical institutions, 1,215 were female and only 624 were male.
Similarly, area-wise distribution of candidates admitted from southern Punjab showed that 506 female and 430 male students got admissions to various medical institutions out of the total 936.
The situation was not different in northern Punjab from where 167 students got admitted as 140 of them were female and only 27 were male.
According to college-wise gender distribution, Rawalpindi Medical College (RMC) is at the top among other institutions, admitting 202 girls out of 299 total admissions. The other prominent medical institutions which admitted majority of female students include the Punjab Medical College (Faisalabad) 184 female, 104 male, Allama Iqbal Medical College (Lahore)170 female, 132 male, Quaid-i-Azam Medical College (Bahawalpur)168 female, 106 male and King Edward Medical University admitted 167 female and 136 male students.
This difference could also be witnessed at the newly-established Gujranwala Medical College which admitted 81 girl students and only 19 boys out of total 100 admissions this year.
Here's a PakObserver report on rural women entrepreneurs from flood-affected areas:
Out of great disasters come great opportunities. This notion has fascinated and revived the humanity out of hardships since the earliest days. As Pakistan shifts from relief to recovery phase in the post-flood scenario, the focus was the rebuilding livelihoods. During these hard times, Pakistani women have emerged as the strength of the economy and the communities as they are helping the families get back on their feet and start their lives all over again. A conference in Islamabad, organized by U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Entrepreneurs Program, gathered women, particularly from the flood and conflict affected areas, who shared their stories of livelihoods improved, and incomes boosted.
The women group from Swat, with their faces well covered in their long hand-embroidered dupattas, is one of the beneficiaries of the Entrepreneurs project. “Earlier these skilled women won’t get due credit or compensation for their art as the major chunk of profits was seized by the middle-men (between the skilled worker and the consumer),” said Farzana Akram, Project Officer at Lasoona, one of the implementing partners of the Project that is providing women micro-entrepreneurs from Swat access to bigger markets and buyers.
With skilled workers, and access to better markets, the product quality has improved and there has been a huge increase in the incomes of micro-entrepreneurs. “Some 964 women have been trained. And we have just successfully delivered 476 pieces of hand embellished fabrics to Generation, Pakistan’s leading retain chain. The order was worth Rs. 485,000” told Ms. Farzana gladly. The project has adopted an integrated value chain approach to support women embellishers by improving access to the premium markets such as national retail stores chain, boutiques and formal exporters. Alternatively, the initiative is agreeably satisfying the growing popularity for ready-to-wear hand embroidered fabrics among urban Pakistani consumers.
“The project is enabling skilled people, particularly women, from rural areas to tap into the huge, unseen potential of domestic markets and forge linkages that might expand to eventually access international markets” informed Ms. Catherine Moore, Deputy Mission Director of USAID Pakistan. “41,500 flood-affected families across Pakistan have recovered their livelihoods through the assistance and in many cases, the families are now earning incomes higher than what they used to earn before the flood” added Ms. Moore.
Women micro entrepreneurs, working in fields as diverse as textile, livestock sector, farming, are now able to generate an income, successfully improving their home conditions with the help of financial innovation known as micro-credit “The Entrepreneurs project has so far helped in restoring livelihoods of some 7,200 conflict-affected people in 233 villages of Malakand region through in kind micro-grants (agriculture inputs, livestock inputs and enterprise/trade skill tools),” as per the report of MEDA ‘Malakand Livelihood Recovery Project’.
The Entrepreneurs Project is working in value chains with high potential for market expansion and provides the platform for increasing incomes of the targeted number of entrepreneurs in these areas: Dairy in North Sindh and South Punjab, Medicinal plants in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Embellished fabrics across Pakistan and Honey in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Here's an excerpt of a recent Khatmandu speech by Pak social scientist Arif Hasan:
.. ...In my city, Karachi, anyone my age will similarly tell you how wonderful Karachi used to be...the calm that we enjoyed was really like the peace of the dead. It was a kind of peace made possible by the feudal system.
I asked an elder from the taluka whom I had met in 1983, now much older, “Sahib, did you have honour killings before?”
He said, “Yes, we used to have one in perhaps ten years. It was a rare occurrence, and we would discuss one for ten years until another happened.”
“Then why it is happening now with such regularity?”
He said, “Now, everyone has become shameless, without honour, so honour killings are taking place.”
I asked, “Why is there no honour today?”
He responded, “The young people, they’ve gone to the city, and they’ve done all the wrong things. The girls have learned how to read and write, they’ve gone to school, some of them have gone to university as well. They have no morals left, so this is bound to happen.”
“You mean this is going to continue like this forever?”
“No, no, it will stop!”
“How and when will it stop?”
His reply was educative: “The honour killings will stop when everyone becomes shameless, then it will end.” Then he added, “But I hope that I die before that day.”
He was a man of the old, feudal rural culture, with its own pattern of behaviour and way of thinking. He was part of it, and it was dying, so he wished to die with it.
In 1992, the applications for court marriages in Karachi amounted to about 10 or 15, mainly applications from couples who were seeking the protection of the court for wedlock without familial consent. By 2006, we were seeing more than 250 applications for court marriages per day in Karachi. Significantly, more than half of the couples seeking court recognition of their betrothal came from rural areas of Sindh. This is yet another indication of how the entire feudal system and its values are in rapid collapse.
This collapse is also heralded by the advances in women’s education. According to 2006 figures, fully 72 percent of the University of Karachi student body is today female. Among medical students, 87 percent are women, and the figure for architecture and planning is as high as 92 percent. In fact, our vice chancellor was so concerned that he suggested a quota for men. I used to teach a class with one boy and 15 girls. That has changed a little now as we have tried to even it out. But the reason is simply that women do better on the entrance tests. There’s no other reason for it.
In 1971, I started working in low-income settlements in Karachi, and a decade later I joined the Orangi Pilot Project (OPP). The settlements that we worked in at that time were primarily working-class, and when we went over we were met by older men who were mostly illiterate. They spoke to us in very formal, feudal language – janaab, huzoor, sahib, miyan, “We are all your children and need your protection,” and all that. At that time, in the 1980s, the women hardly worked. Things are entirely different when you go to the OPP today; it’s not what you would call a shanty settlement. It’s mostly the younger generation who will meet you, and they will address you as ‘uncle’ rather than ‘sahib’. The people you meet are bank managers, school teachers, professionals working in the service sector of Karachi.
... The recent shooting of Malala Yusufzhai has shown what Pakistani society really feels and how it thinks on issues. For the first time the Pakistani establishment – the army as well as the three major political parties – have all condemned the Taliban for the shooting. The people have spoken in the huge rallies, in Karachi and elsewhere. ...
Here's an AFP story about love online in Pakistani town of Muzaffargarh:
MUZAFFARABAD: Sania was just a schoolgirl when she logged onto an Internet chat room and met a young college student called Mohammad. They fell in love and decided to get married.
Internet dating in the West is now so common that it is no longer considered an act of shameful desperation but an acceptable way for busy professionals to discover a like-minded partner.
But for Sania, the 22-year-old daughter of a conservative truck driver in Pakistan, online romance and her subsequent marriage has meant repeated beatings and death threats at the hands of her relatives.
“No one gets married outside our community. It is our tradition,” Sania told AFP. She is from the garrison city of Rawalpindi and Mohammad comes from Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani-administered Kashmir.
At first she and Mohammad chatted online. Then they both bought mobiles to continue their relationship by telephone. For several years they asked their parents for permission to marry, but were refused.
So Sania decided to escape.
She packed a bag and sneaked out while her brother was at school, her mother sleeping and her father out at work. She took the bus straight to Muzaffarabad.
“I spent the four-hour journey in fear. I kept thinking that if my family caught me, they’d kill me,” she told AFP.
In Muzaffarabad, Mohammad met her off the bus and they got married immediately. But while his family quickly accepted Sania, nearly two years later the couple still live in fear of her relatives.
Twice they have dragged her back to Rawalpindi since her marriage and have demanded repeatedly that she break off relations with Mohammad.
“Last time they took me back three months ago and put lot of pressure on me to break off this relationship. I got in contact with my husband and asked him to fetch me. I escaped from the house at midnight and we managed to flee,” she said.
Now Sania and her 24-year-old husband have moved to a new one-room house in a slum, changed their phone number and dare not venture out of the city.
“They say they will kill us whenever they find us,” Sania says.
Women in Pakistan who marry against the wishes of their parents are ostracised or even killed by male relatives for supposedly bringing dishonour on the family.
But online relationships are a new phenomenon.
Mohammad Zaman, professor of sociology at Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad, who has written a book about marriage, says arranged unions that have dominated for centuries are on the wane.
“Internet marriage is a new trend emerging in Pakistan. Technological advancement has entered into our homes and traditional taboos are slowly vanishing in educated and affluent families,” Zaman told AFP.
Online, they can share personal information and swap photographs — things that would be restricted or prohibited in the traditional selection of partners.
The Internet is changing mindsets, giving young people freedom and privacy, and a forum to discuss matters frowned upon by Pakistan’s traditional, conservative society.
“There is a kind of emancipation in society and young people want their say in the selection of their future partner,” Zaman said, although he conceded that parents find it easier to accept a son’s choice than that of a daughter.
Tahir, a Pakistani peace activist, knows only too well how the freedom of the Internet can collide with the restrictions of everyday life — not only conservative sensibilities but politics and war.
The 26-year-old fell for university student Nazia on Facebook and Skype.
All fine and good, except that Nazia lives on the other side of one of the most heavily militarised borders in the world — that which divides the Himalayan region of Kashmir between India and Pakistan.
The "peace of the dead" is ending with the "eclipse of feudalism" in Pakistan. What we are seeing now is an "unplanned revolution" in the words of a Pakistani sociologist, a revolution that is transforming Pakistan for the better in the long run.
Here's an AP report on provocative paintings in Pakistan:
...The uproar was sparked when the college’s Journal of Contemporary Art and Culture over the summer published pictures of a series of paintings by artist Muhammad Ali.
Particularly infuriating to conservatives were two works that they said insulted Islam by mixing images of Muslim clerics with suggestions of homosexuality, which is deeply taboo in Pakistan.
One titled “Call for Prayer” shows a cleric and a shirtless young boy sitting beside each other on a cot. The cleric fingers rosary beads as he gazes at the boy, who seductively stretches backward with his hands clasped behind his head.
Mumtaz Mangat, a lawyer who petitioned the courts to impose blasphemy charges, argued the image implied the cleric had “fun” with the boy before conducting the traditional Muslim call for prayer.
A second painting shows the same cleric reclining in front of a Muslim shrine, holding a book by Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho in one hand as he lights a cigarette for a young boy with the other. A second young boy, who is naked with his legs strategically crossed to cover his genitals, sits at the cleric’s feet. The painting has caused particular uproar because verses from Islam’s holy book, the Quran, appear on the shrine.
Aasim Akhtar, an Islamabad-based art critic who wrote an essay accompanying the paintings in the journal, wrote that Ali’s mixing of images was “deliberately, violently profane,” aimed at challenge “homophobic” beliefs that are widespread in Pakistani society.
“Ali redefines the divine through a critique of authority and the hypocrisy of the cleric,” wrote Akhtar, an Islamabad-based art critic who is also listed as a potential defendant in the blasphemy complaint.
Jamaat-ud-Dawa, widely believed to be a front for the Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group, issued a statement after the paintings were published demanding the college issue a public apology and withdraw all issues of the journal.
College staff members also began receiving anonymous text messages threatening violence, said a member of the journal’s editorial board. They were afraid to push back for fear of being killed, he said, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of being targeted.
Extremists gunned down two prominent Pakistani politicians last year for speaking out against the country’s harsh blasphemy laws, which can mean life in prison or even death. Human rights activists have criticized the laws, saying they are often used to persecute religious minorities or settle personal scores.
Yahya Mujahid, the spokesman for Jamaat-ud-Dawa, denied the group sent any threats but said the state should punish those responsible.
“It’s part of Western and American plans to malign Islam,” claimed Mujahid.
A court considering whether to press blasphemy charges held its latest session in mid-December, but it has not said when it will rule whether such charges apply in the case.
Shahram Sarwar, a lawyer representing the college’s editorial board, said his clients did not intend to hurt anyone’s feelings but he was prepared to apologize on their behalf if they did.
Besides shutting down the journal, the college also closed the department where its staff worked, said Sarwar.
The current head of the National Arts College, Shabnam Khan, denied the institution caved to pressure from hardliners, saying the editorial staff quit voluntarily. She said the department was closed because no one was left to run it...
Here's Reuters on rising divorce rate in Pakistan:
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistani women are slowly turning to divorce to escape abusive and loveless marriages, once taboo and still a dangerous option in this strict Muslim nation even as more women become empowered by rising employment and awareness of their rights.
But the number of women with the courage to seek divorce remains small in the face of Pakistan's powerful religious right and growing Islamic conservatism, and in a male-dominated nation where few champion women's rights.
Women are often killed while pursuing divorces, with some shot on the way home from court or in front of their lawyers.
In the capital Islamabad, home to 1.7 million people, 557 couples divorced in 2011, up from 208 in 2002, the Islamabad Arbitration Council said. The Pakistani government does not track a national divorce rate.
"If you are earning, the only thing you need from the guy is love and affection. If the guy is not even providing that, then you leave him," said 26-year-old divorcee Rabia, a reporter who left a loveless arranged marriage to a cheating husband.
Despite their small numbers, Rabia and other women like her are seen as a rising threat from Pakistan's conservative forces.
"The women have been given so-called freedom and liberty, which causes danger to themselves," Taliban spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan told Reuters.
There were at least 1,636 "honor killings" last year, said Pakistani rights group The Aurat Foundation. The mere perception that a woman has behaved in a way that "dishonors" her family is sufficient to trigger an attack.
Pashtun singer Ghazala Javed became a statistic in June. A famous beauty, she married after fleeing Taliban threats. Then she discovered her new husband already had a wife. When she asked for a divorce, she and her father were shot dead.
While women divorcing their husbands is widespread in the West, growing markedly in the 20th century in many developed nations, it is a relatively new phenomenon in Pakistan.
And while a divorce case in the Muslim family courts must be resolved within six months, civil divorce cases can drag on for years, making it even harder for tens of thousands of women from religious minorities to get a divorce.
In the commercial hub Karachi, lawyer Zeeshan Sharif said he receives several divorce enquiries a week but virtually none a decade ago.
Women seeking a divorce usually come from the upper and middle classes, he said. Lawyers' fees are at least $300, a year's wage for many of Pakistan's 180 million citizens. For poor housewives, hiring a lawyer is impossible.
Most Pakistanis think the higher divorce rate is linked to women's growing financial independence, a 2010 poll by The Gilani Foundation/Gallup Pakistan found.
The number of women with jobs grew from 5.69 million to 12.11 million over the past decade, the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics said.
"Women are also making money now and they think if they have empowerment, they do not need to sacrifice as much," said Musfira Jamal, a senior member of the religious party Jamaat-e-Islami. "God does not like divorce ... (but) God has not given any right to any man to beat his wife or torture his family."
In 2012, clerics and a religious party demanded a review of a bill to outlaw domestic violence, saying it risked undermining "family values".
Western culture, not abuse, is why women seek divorces, said Taliban spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan.
Yet domestic violence was one of the most common reasons for divorce, said lawyer Aliya Malik. Around 90 percent of Pakistani women experienced domestic violence at least once, a 2011 Thomson Reuters Foundation poll found....
Here's PakistanToday on Acumen Foundation and JS partnership to promote social change in Pakistan:
ISLAMABAD - The Acumen Fund and JS have launched Pakistan Fellows Programme aiming to develop the social change leaders of next generation who are building innovative businesses and strong institutions across the country.
The Acumen Fund, a pioneering nonprofit global venture firm addressing poverty across Africa and in South Asia, hosted an event on Sunday to introduce the first class of Acumen Pakistan Fellows, said a statement issued here on Monday.
In partnership with JS Bank, the Mahvash & Jahangir Siddiqui Foundation and the Edmond de Rothschild Foundations, Acumen was working to develop the next generation of social change leaders who were building innovative businesses and strong institutions across Pakistan.
Twenty individuals have been selected out of over 500 candidates to participate in this year-long training, while simultaneously continuing to pursue their social impact initiatives.
Fellows’ initiatives range from creating an interest-free microfinance institution, to a disaster relief project and to a teaching training programme. In addition to a presentation given by the newly selected Pakistan Fellows, the launch event featured remarks by Jacqueline Novogratz, Founder & CEO of Acumen Fund, and Edmond de Rothschild Foundations Executive Director Firoz Ladak.
“Pakistan today faces many challenges, and we need new leaders who are dedicated to creating a better future for this country,” said Acumen Fund Pakistan Country Director Farrukh Khan. “It is exciting to help develop a community of leaders with the financial skills, operational excellence and moral imagination to address pressing social issues and we’re humbled by the support and interest we’ve received from our partners and local community.”
“The depth and breadth of talent in the applicant pool size is evidence that the people of this nation want to seek ways to improve the prevailing conditions and challenge the existing status quo,” stated Mahvash & Jahangir Siddiqui Foundation CEO Ali J. Siddiqui, “With this inaugural class of bright and ambitious individuals, we are creating a brighter future of this country by providing the tools and the knowledge required to develop a new generation of Pakistani leaders.”
The Pakistan Fellows programme was just one part of Acumen’s investment in leadership and community of the Acumen Fund alumni network.
The East Africa Regional Fellows Program was in its second year and just selected its fellows for 2013.
Acumen intends to launch similar Regional Fellows Programs in India and West Africa in the coming years.
Additionally, Acumen Fund had invested over $ 7 million in Pakistan since 2001, focusing on a wide range of sustainable, scalable businesses-in agriculture, housing, health, water and energy-that use market-based approaches to deliver products and services to millions of rural and urban poor.
Recent additions to Acumen Fund Pakistan’s portfolio include the NRSP (National Rural Support Program) Microfinance Bank, which was the first agency in Pakistan to provide financial services to rural agricultural markets, and Pharmagen Healthcare Ltd, which supplies safe, clean, and affordable drinking water to low-income residents in Lahore.
British secretary of DfID in Pakistan, reports Asian Age:
Secretary of State for the UK’s Department for International Development, Justine Greening, is in Pakistan.
She confirmed confirmed the UK’s commitment to help support four million of Pakistan’s children in school during a visit to two schools in Rawalpindi.
Justine Greening said: “Education is the single most important factor that can transform Pakistan’s future.
"Education helps to increase economic growth and will give the next generation of Pakistanis the chance to build a better future for themselves and their families.
"That’s why education is the UK’s number one priority in Pakistan. We will continue to work with Pakistan, as a partner, to help support four million children in school by 2015.”
Over the next six years alone, UK support for the planned Punjab Education Sector Programme, working with government and other donors, will help an additional 2.9 million children gain access to education, 71 per cent of whom will be girls.
Progress by the Government of Punjab has seen the primary enrolment rate for girls rise to 68 per cent (from 59 per cent) across the province, and to 64 per cent (from 55 per cent) in rural areas, between 2006 and 2010.
In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the UK’s education programme is focusing on tackling the educational disadvantages faced by girls, providing monthly ‘stipends’ so that poor families can send their girls to school and helping them to stay longer by investing in secondary education facilities for girls schools. 400,000 girls received vouchers this year.
And a new Education Fund for Sindh will educate 200,000 children through vouchers for low cost private sector schools, by working with organisations educating the poor and by supporting public private education partnerships. In its first year, the Education Fund for Sindh is already supporting the education of over 11,600 children.
She also met with Minister of Finance Hafeez Shaikh.
Justine Greening said: “I am pleased to be in Pakistan to see for myself the results that UK aid is helping to deliver in transforming people’s lives and to reiterate the close and enduring bond that our two countries share.
“The elections are a crucial milestone in Pakistan’s democratic history. We look forward to the peaceful transition of power with elections that are credible and support economic reforms that will help Pakistan thrive in the future providing basic services for a fast growing population. The UK stands ready to support Pakistan’s effort to deal with these critical issues.”
The UK’s aid programme is linked to the Government of Pakistan’s progress on results and reform at both the federal and provincial levels, particularly following the upcoming elections.
Discussions between the British Development Secretary and Minister of Finance focused on steps being taken to build a more dynamic economy, strengthen the country’s tax base and tackle corruption.
Here's a Harvard Business Review piece on women in Pakistan:
"Pakistan is a highly complex and ambiguous country," Ehsan Malik, Country Manager for Unilever Pakistan, told me. "The media projects Pakistan as conservative, but there is a large segment of society that is liberal and broad minded." (Disclosure: Unilever is a client of mine globally, but not the Pakistan branch particularly.)
"My predecessor at Unilever Pakistan was a woman who went to run L'Oreal Pakistan. My wife runs a business and both our mothers and sisters have always worked, as do many in our families and friends. So for me Unilever's gender balance drive is not something extraordinary." Two of the people on Malik's six-person Management Committee are women, and he sees the possibility that his successor could be female. "There are three senior women who have been listed as high potential so we could have a majority female Management Committee in the foreseeable future."
"We aimed to set an example and become a model on gender balance. Now, virtually all our competitors are doing the same... In Pakistan, despite the bad press, when it comes to gender, employers are progressive."
How do the men react? "There was a debate two or three years back, around a concern that we were favoring women. We made it very clear: between two equal candidates, we said we would pick the woman because there is an imbalance that needs to be corrected." In Pakistan, as in a growing number of countries, women perform better academically. "Medical colleges are 70% women but less than half of them continue working beyond a few years of qualifying, partly because of family reasons but also due to working conditions," notes Malik.
In many companies I work for, some of the greatest openness and action on gender balance is in emerging market operations. I have found managers in Brazil, India or Malaysia more enthusiastic and convinced of the business case than their Western colleagues, in much more challenging contexts. And ready to go to much greater lengths to adapt to women's needs.
Like Pakistan. Unilever Pakistan has achieved its gender balancing targets internally (ahead of most Western countries), which Malik considered "relatively simple," yet by doing things that might appear inconceivable elsewhere. So, for example, to recruit female engineers in its remote factories, Unilever provides security-guard staffed housing for the women next to the facilities, ensuring their safety and reassuring their families. Flexible working from different locations — home, distributor premises, or ad agency offices — is another step that benefits all managers. However, he observed, "some female managers prefer coming to the office — there is a day care center to look after their children, they want to get away from extended families that many in Pakistan live with, [and] they can escape the power cuts that plague large cities."
These seemed like obvious investments to Malik who is now setting his sites on "a much bigger agenda" with gender as a competitive advantage with consumers, and a condition for working with suppliers.
For the moment, there are 900 women who have gone through the training, and Malik is planning on increasing this to 7,000. "The rural population's bank is usually a couple of villages away. So we are finding that not only do other women come for beauty advice, they also start coming for advice on how to open bank accounts and start a business. And it seems the men are starting to come too, looking for the same guidance."
"Where government fails," concludes Malik, " global companies can fill the void by building concepts that become platforms for change and progress."
Here's a Daily Beast piece on girls' education in Pakistan:
Humaira Bachal was just a teenager when she looked around her impoverished Karachi neighborhood at the children roaming the barren streets, and realized that she and her sister were the only ones who were going to school. Bachal’s mother was making sure her daughters got an education, against her father’s wishes. When her father discovered she was going to take a high school entrance exam, he beat her mother. He also beat her. She took the exam anyway. And then, determined to improve the shameful number of girls completing a primary education in Pakistan—only 59 percent—Bachal she started teaching a handful of local children in her home.
A decade later, Bachal was sitting on stage in an ornate theater at Lincoln Center in New York, talking about the 1,200-student school she runs in a gang-ridden part of Karachi through the Dream Foundation Trust, which she created and runs. Bachal “doesn’t take any nonsense. And the [local] men respect that,” says documentarian Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy (CEO, SOC Films), who made a movie featuring the Pakistani activist and who was also on stage for the fourth annual Women in the World Summit, hosted by Newsweek and The Daily Beast. Along with her fellow Pakistani panelist Khalida Brohi (founder and director, Sughar Women’s Program) and of course Malala Yousafzai, all of whom began their education activism as teenagers, Bachal represented a major thread woven through the 2013 summit: the promise of the rising generation of young women activists, entrepreneurs, and leaders.
Call it the girls-who-change-the-world summit. Of course there were many veteran activists among the featured delegates, but there was also a sense that the current crop of tech-savvy young women may be able to change women’s education and labor-force participation even more quickly and decisively than their immediate predecessors. As Hillary Clinton put it in her summit address, “Much of our advocacy is a top-down frame. It’s past time to embrace a 21st-century approach to advancing the opportunities of women and girls” by empowering youthful, grassroots leaders.
In India and Pakistan, the poorest 20 percent of boys get five more years of education than girls do.”
Though women are rocking education in the United States—they now get the majority of both college and graduate degrees—they are sorely underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields, known in the jargon as STEM. In fact, they’ve lost ground in the past decade. As the summit’s “Grooming Titans of Tech” panel moderator Chelsea Clinton pointed out, the number of female computer science majors has dropped from 20 to 12 percent in the past decade. Reshma Saujani, the founder of the organization Girls Who Code, a nonprofit that teaches underprivileged teens how to code in computer science languages, is looking to change those dreadful numbers. Saujani bragged to the WITW audience about how evangelical her first group of graduates is: they teach their friends what they learn in their coding classes.....
Here's Asia Times on a woman candidate defying tribal traditions in Pakistan's FATA region:
BAJAUR AGENCY, Pakistan - "My sole motive is to serve my people, especially women who have had no role in politics so far. I feel we can make progress only by bringing in women into mainstream politics." These are the words of Badam Zari, 40, who has filed her nomination papers with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). Zari is contesting from the militancy-hit Bajaur Agency, one of the seven districts in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) near the Afghanistan border.
Zari's tiny but lush green house in Arang village is buzzing with activity as women from the neighborhood come in droves to congratulate her for the exemplary courage she has shown in standing for elections.
Forget standing for election, women in FATA do not vote. It was only in 1997 that the federal government gave the six million residents of FATA the right of adult franchise. Before that, only a few government-nominated elders called Maliks were entitled to cast votes or stand in election.
In January this year, the Election Commission of Pakistan proposed an amendment to the Representation of People Act, 1976, making it compulsory for every polling station to have at least 10% of its total votes cast by women. It went so far as to suggest that results from polling stations not be taken into account till that provision was met. The government, however, paid no heed to the suggestion.
"I am extremely worried about tribal women, most of who stay in their houses, which has prevented them from making any progress," Zari told IPS. "My only ambition is to struggle for the improvement of women's conditions in Bajaur Agency. Women here are suffering as none of the lawmakers in FATA have ever worked towards their development."
Her action, she is sure, will motivate women to come to the polling booths on polling day and vote in her favor....
Here's an AP report on women making up majority of students at Karachi's Dow Medical University:
KARACHI, Pakistan — In a lecture hall of one of Pakistan’s most prestigious medical schools, a handful of male students sits in the far top corner, clearly outnumbered by the rows and rows of female students listening intently to the doctor lecturing about insulin.
In a country better known for honor killings of women and low literacy rates for girls, Pakistan’s medical schools are a reflection of how women’s roles are evolving. Women now make up the vast majority of students studying medicine, a gradual change that’s come about after a quota favoring male admittance into medical school was lifted in 1991.
The trend is a step forward for women in Pakistan, a largely conservative Muslim country. But there remain obstacles. Many women graduates don’t go on to work as doctors, largely because of pressure from family and society to get married and stop working — so much so that there are now concerns over the impact on the country’s health care system.
At Dow Medical College in the southern port city of Karachi, the female students said they are adamant they will work.
Standing in the school’s courtyard as fellow students — almost all of them women — gathered between classes, Ayesha Sultan described why she wants to become a doctor.
“I wanted to serve humanity, and I believe that I was born for this,” said Sultan, who is in her first year. “The women here are really striving hard to get a position, especially in this country where women’s discrimination is to the zenith, so I think that’s why you find a lot of women here.”
For years, a government-imposed quota mandated that 80 percent of the seats at medical schools went to men and 20 percent to women. Then the Supreme Court ruled that the quota was unconstitutional and that admission should be based solely on merit.
Now about 80 to 85 percent of Pakistan’s medical students are women, said Dr. Mirza Ali Azhar, the secretary general of the Pakistan Medical Association. Statistics gathered by The Associated Press show that at medical schools in some deeply conservative areas of the country such as Baluchistan in the southwest and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in the northwest, men still outnumber women. But in Punjab and Sindh provinces, which turn out the vast bulk of medical students, the women dominate. At Dow, it is currently about 70 percent women to 30 percent men.
In comparison, about 47 percent of medical students in the U.S. are women, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.
There are a number of different reasons why men don’t make the cut, say students, faculty and medical officials. Medical school takes too long and is too difficult. Boys have more freedom to leave the house than girls, so they have more distractions. Boys want a career path in business or IT that will make them more money and faster, in part because they need to earn money to raise families.
At Dow, for example, just about all the male graduates work as doctors, but only an estimated half the women do, says Dr. Umar Farooq, the school’s pro-vice chancellor. Nationwide figures on how many women graduates forgo actual practice don’t exist, but despite years of increased women’s enrollment, the gender breakdown of doctors remains lopsided. Of the 132,988 doctors registered with the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council, 58,789 are women. The number of female specialists is even smaller: 7,524 out of 28,686....
Here's a Guardian story of Pakistani women in politics:
When Pakistan's new foreign minister arrived in India for talks in 2011 it triggered a media storm on both sides of the border – not because of policy but a Birkin bag. Hina Rabbani Khar, at 34 Pakistan's youngest and first female foreign minister, was put under international scrutiny for her pearl necklaces, Cavalli sunglasses and expensive handbags. "A guy in my place would never get such attention – nobody would be talking about his suit," she said at the time.
Powerful women the world over are evaluated on their appearance, but in Pakistan there are additional cultural constraints. However, as the country gears up for Saturday's general election – its first ever transition from one elected government to another – female politicians are standing up to change their future at the ballot box.
Figures released by the Election Commission show a 129.8% increase in the number of women contesting general seats since the 2008 election. As well as Khar, Pakistan has had a female prime minister in Benazir Bhutto and currently has Fehmida Mirza as speaker. Reserved seats for women have always been guaranteed in Pakistan's constitution, and over the years the number of quota seats has increased due to the efforts of activists. While reserved seats are improving representation (it stands at 22.5%, the same as in the UK, and better than the US's 17.8%), these women are predominantly from elite backgrounds. Those from poorer families remain excluded from the political system and, at the far end of the spectrum, many women are so disenfranchised that they cannot vote.
South Asia, despite its social conservatism, has a long history of female representation, with political systems often heavily dominated by a few families. Women such as Bhutto and India's Indira Gandhi stood in place of their father or husband, the family name allowing them to step outside traditional female roles: Khar contested elections because her father Noor was disqualified. Despite her swift rise to the cabinet she will not stand this year, because her father has been reinstated.
"It is difficult for women," says Anis Haroon, a caretaker minister for human rights and women. "It's non-traditional ground to tread, and women still bear the responsibility of home and children. Character assassination is easy in a patriarchal, conservative society. Women must work twice as hard to prove their worth." Last month, an election official in Lahore told the husband of prospective candidate Sadia Sohail that if she were elected, "the arrangements at your home will be ruined and no one will be there to attend your children"....
Here's an IBN Live story:
Finland best place to be a mother; India behind China, Pakistan
Press Trust of India | 08-May 17:47 PM
Beijing: Finland has topped the list of countries where mothers enjoy the best conditions in the world, while India ranks a low 142nd, below China and Pakistan, according to a new global report.
The annual report called 'State of World's Mothers 2013' was issued by an international NGO "Save the Children" before the Mother's Day in mid-May.
The report was featured by a ranking list of Mothers' index, showing the conditions of mothers in 176 countries, Xinhua news agency reported.
Among the reviewed countries, Finland was ranked the best country for being mothers followed by Sweden, Norway, Iceland while Democratic Republic of Congo was considered to be the toughest place.
The mothers' well-being was assessed under five indexes, including maternal health, child mortality, education, working income and political status.
According to the annual report, one in thirty pregnant women in DR Congo died from maternal causes, while in Finland the ratio was only one in 12,200.
As for education, women in DR Congo were likely to be educated for 8.5 years, compared with 17 years in Finland. Nearly 43 per cent of Finnish parliamentary seats were held by women, whereas the ratio in DR Congo was only 8 per cent.
Although Finland did not perform the absolute "best" in each index, it became the only country with all five indexes ranking among the top 12. The US places 30th this year while Pakistan was 139th on the list.
China ranked at the 68th place, the best ranking among the major emerging developing countries. The top ten countries attained very high scores for mothers' and children's health, educational, economic and political status. They include Finland, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Netherlands, Denmark, Spain, Belgium, Germany and Australia.
The 10 bottom-ranked countries, which are all from sub-Saharan Africa, performed poorly on all indicators. They include Cote d'Ivoire (167), Chad (168), Nigeria (169), Gambia (170), Central African Republic (171), Niger (172), Mali (173), Sierra Leone (174), Somalia (175) and Democratic Republic of Congo (176).
Conditions for mothers and their children in the bottom countries are grim. On average, 1 woman in 30 dies from pregnancy-related causes and 1 child in 7 dies before his or her fifth birthday, the report said.
Here's a Reuters' report on a newly-inducted female fighter pilot in Pak Air Force:
With an olive green head scarf poking out from her helmet, Ayesha Farooq flashes a cheeky grin when asked if it is lonely being the only war-ready female fighter pilot in the Islamic republic of Pakistan.
Farooq, from Punjab province's historic city of Bahawalpur, is one of 19 women who have become pilots in the Pakistan Air Force over the last decade - there are five other female fighter pilots, but they have yet to take the final tests to qualify for combat.
"I don't feel any different. We do the same activities, the same precision bombing," the soft-spoken 26-year-old said of her male colleagues at Mushaf base in north Pakistan, where neatly piled warheads sit in sweltering 50 degree Celsius heat (122 F).
A growing number of women have joined Pakistan's defence forces in recent years as attitudes towards women change.
"Because of terrorism and our geographical location it's very important that we stay on our toes," said Farooq, referring to Taliban militancy and a sharp rise in sectarian violence.
Deteriorating security in neighbouring Afghanistan, where U.S.-led troops are preparing to leave by the end of next year, and an uneasy relationship with arch rival India to the east add to the mix.
Farooq, whose slim frame offers a study in contrast with her burly male colleagues, was at loggerheads with her widowed and uneducated mother seven years ago when she said she wanted to join the air force.
"In our society most girls don't even think about doing such things as flying an aircraft," she said.
Family pressure against the traditionally male domain of the armed forces dissuaded other women from taking the next step to become combat ready, air force officials said. They fly slower aircraft instead, ferrying troops and equipment around the nuclear-armed country of 180 million.
"LESS OF A TABOO"
Centuries-old rule in the tribal belt area along the border with Afghanistan, where rape, mutilation and the killing of women are ordered to mete out justice, underlines conservative Pakistan's failures in protecting women's rights.
But women are becoming more aware of those rights and signing up with the air force is about as empowering as it gets.
"More and more ladies are joining now," said Nasim Abbas, Wing Commander of Squadron 20, made up of 25 pilots, including Farooq, who fly Chinese-made F-7PG fighter jets....
Here's an AFP report on Pakistan Army's first female paratroopers:
Pakistan’s first group of female paratroopers completed their training on Sunday, the military announced, hailing it as a “landmark achievement” for the deeply conservative Muslim country.
Captain Kiran Ashraf was declared the best paratrooper of the batch of 24, the military said in a statement, while Captain Sadia, referred to by one name, became the first woman officer to jump from a MI-17 helicopter.
Women have limited opportunities in Pakistan’s highly traditional, patriarchal society. The United Nations says only 40 percent of adult women are literate, and are frequently the victims of violence and abuse.
But in 2006, seven women broke into one of Pakistan’s most exclusive male clubs to graduate as fighter pilots - perhaps the most prestigious job in the powerful military and for six decades closed to the fairer sex.
After three weeks’ basic airborne training, which included exit, flight and landing techniques, the new paratroopers completed their first jump on Sunday and were given their “wings” by the commander of Special Services Group, Major General Abid Rafique, the military said.
Here's an open letter in The Guardian from Pakistani writer Mohammad Hanif addressed to TTP leader Adnan Rasheed:
Dear Adnan Rasheed,
I am writing to you in my personal capacity. This may not be the opinion of the people of Pakistan or the policy of the government, but I write to thank you in response to the generous letter you have written to Malala Yousafzai. Thanks for owning up that your comrades tried to kill her by shooting her in the head. Many of your well-wishers in Pakistan had been claiming the Taliban wouldn't attack a minor girl. They were of the opinion that Malala had shot herself in order to become a celebrity and get a UK visa. Women, as we know, will go to any lengths to get what they want. So thanks for saying that a 14-year-old girl was the Taliban's foe. And if she rolls out the old cliche that the pen is mightier than sword, she must face the sword and find it for herself.
Like you, there are others who are still not sure whether it was "Islamically correct or wrong", or whether she deserved to be "killed or not", but then you go on to suggest that we leave it to Allah.
There are a lot of people in Pakistan, some of them not even Muslims, who, when faced with difficult choices or everyday hardships, say let's leave it to Allah. Sometimes it's the only solace for the helpless. But most people don't say leave it to Allah after shooting a kid in the face. The whole point of leaving it to Allah is that He is a better judge than any human being, and there are matters that are beyond our comprehension – maybe even beyond your favourite writer Bertrand Russell's comprehension.
Allow me to make another small theological point – again about girls. Before the advent of Islam, before the prophet gave us the holy book that you want Malala to learn again, in the times we call jahilia, people used to bury their newborn daughters. They probably found them annoying and thought it better to get rid of them before they learned to speak. We are told Islam came to put an end to such horrendous practices. If 1,400 years later, we have to shoot girls in the head in an attempt to shut them up, someone like Russell might say we haven't made much progress.
Like you, I did a bit of research in Malala's hometown in Swat valley, and I remember a wise journalist warning your commanders that the Taliban might get away with slitting people's throats in public squares but not to try shutting down the girls' school. The government practically handed over the valley to your comrades, but their rule didn't even last for a few weeks because they ordered all women to stay home.
There was only one lesson to be learned: you can fight the Pakistani army; you can try and almost kill Pakistan's commander-in-chief, as you so heroically did; you might wage a glorious jihad against brutal imperial forces. But you can't pick a fight with the working women in your neighbourhood and hope to win. Those women may never get an audience at the UN but everyone – from cotton picker to bank teller – cannot be asked to shut up and stay home, for the simple reason that they won't.
It has also been suggested that your letter represents the mainstream opinion in Pakistan. But don't fall for this praise. You might think that a lot of people support your just fight, but there is a part of them that worries whether their girl will get the grades to get into a good university. And if you tell them there is a contradiction there, they might tell you to leave it to Allah...
Pakistan's Burka Avenger female superhero reflects shifting ground realities with increasing women participation in the affairs of the nation.
1. First women paratroopers inducted in Pakistan Army.
2. First female combat pilot commissioned in Pakistan Air Force.
3. First female jirga held in Pakistan.
4. Malala Yousufzai emerges as an international icon for girls' education in Pakistan and elsewhere.
5. Increasing number of court marriages by young couples in defiance of tradition of marriages arranged by parents.
6. Rising female participation in Pakistan's work force.
"If war breaks out, I will be flying on my senior's wing as his wingman, well, wingwoman," she said in an interview with The Daily Telegraph at the headquarters of the Pakistan Air Force in Islamabad.....For Fl Lt Farooq, it would provide the ultimate chance to prove that women were every bit the equal of men in the cockpit.
"When I get orders I will go and fight. I want to prove myself, to show that I'm doing something for my country."
Malala inspires girls school enrollment surge in KP, reports Bloomberg:
MINGORA, Pakistan — The Pakistani Taliban's attempts to deter girls from seeking an education, epitomized by the shooting of 16-year-old Malala Yousafzai in the face last year, are backfiring as school enrollments surge in her home region.
While Yousafzai missed out last week on the Nobel Peace Prize, her plight is helping change attitudes in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, which lies at the center of a Taliban insurgency. The four-month-old provincial government boosted education spending by about 30 percent and began an enrollment drive that has added 200,000 children, including 75,000 girls.
Yousafzai's story "is certainly helping us to promote education in the tribal belt," Muhammad Atif Khan, the province's education minister, said by phone. "Education is a matter of death and life. We can't solve terrorism issues without educating people."
Taliban militants targeted Yousafzai in retaliation over her campaign for girls to be given equal rights to schooling in a country where only 40 percent of adult women can read and write. Though the Nobel award went to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Yousafzai was showered with accolades in a week in which she published her memoir: she won the European Union's top human rights prize and met President Barack Obama at the Oval Office.
The shooting occurred a year ago as Yousafzai traveled home on a school bus in Mingora, a trading hub of 1.8 million people where a majority of women still cover their faces and girls aren't comfortable answering questions from reporters. The bullet struck above her left eye, grazing her brain. She was flown for emergency surgery to Britain, where she lives today.
The increased media attention on Swat since the shooting is pressuring government officials to improve educational standards and encouraging locals to send their kids to school.
Three days ago in Mingora, as local channels flashed the news that Yousafzai didn't win the peace prize, high school student Shehzad Qamar credited her for prompting the government to build more institutions of higher learning.
"She has done what we couldn't have achieved in 100 years," Qamar said. "She gave this town an identity."..
"Taliban wanted to silence me," Yousafzai said in an interview with the BBC last week. "Malala was heard only in Pakistan, but now she is heard at the every corner of the world."
Sadiqa Ameen, a 15-year-old school girl in Swat, said she wanted to read Yousafzai's book, titled "I am Malala." The Pakistani Taliban, or Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, has threatened to kill Yousafzai and target shops selling her book, the Dawn newspaper reported, citing spokesman Shahidullah Shahid.
"This is probably the first ever book written by a Swati girl," said Ameen, who lives near Yousafzai's school. "I am sure her story will be something we all know and have gone through during the Taliban rule."
Musfira Khan Karim, 11, prayed for Yousafzai's success in the Nobel competition with her 400 schoolmates in Mingora.
"I want her back here among us," Karim said in her school's playground. "I want to know more about her. I want to meet her."
The Saudi guardianship law for women is a vestige of its Medieval past when all women, including adults, were required to have a male guardian's permission for almost everything in life: To work, marry, travel, do business, stay at a hotel, etc. Male guardian could be father, husband, brother, etc. Ban on driving is also an example of how Saudis treat women as chattel.
According to Pakistan's Federal Bureau of Statistics, the proportion of women at work in the country has increased from 16.3% to 24.4% in a decade.
But activists say that despite this, many women still find it difficult to be accepted in the male-dominated workforce.
Qualified driver Aliya Bibi spoke to the BBC about her struggle to find employment in Rawalpindi.
Women participation in the work force in Pakistan has increased to 25% from 16% a decade ago. Jobs held by Pakistani women range from airline pilots, fighter jet pilots, military generals, soldiers, police officers, parliamentarians, ministers, business executives, doctors, lawyers, engineers, accountants, fast food workers, taxi drivers, farm workers, etc etc.
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.
Forbes magazine released its third annual "30 Under 30" list on Monday, "a tally of the brightest stars in 15 different fields under the age of 30," and three Pakistani women made the cut in the Social Entrepreneurship category (ET). The most well-known woman on the list is Malala Yousafzai, who became an international champion of girls' education after she was shot by the Pakistani Taliban in October 2012. She is credited with co-founding the Malala Fund, which aims to increase girls' enrollment in formal education in the developing world; her co-founder, Shiza Shahid, is also on the list. Shahid, a graduate from Stanford University, was also listed on TIME magazine's "30 Under 30" list in December 2013. Rounding out the list is Khalida Brohi, who founded Sughar, a non-profit organization that helps women start small businesses so they can become more financially independent, after witnessing the death of her friend in an honor killing.
Here's a VOA report on a woman chef in New York:
NEW YORK — Few women make it into the top ranks of chefs in New York City. It’s even harder for women who are not U.S. citizens, but one young Pakistani woman has broken this barrier.
Fatima Ali is the sous - or assistant - chef at the famous Café Centro in Midtown Manhattan. She is also one of the very few Pakistani women to graduate from America’s top culinary institute, the Culinary Institute of Arts.
But what makes Ali even rarer, according to a VOA survey, is that she may be the only non-American female chef in any of 70 top New York restaurants.
Ali grew up in Pakistan, and she says there’s so much for her to take back to her home country.
“There’s so many things that I've been exposed to in the U.S., that I may not have been exposed to in Pakistan. Like the plethora of ingredients that are available here," she said. "But it’s been really interesting, taking what I have learned in America and then whenever I go back home to visit, cooking for my family and friends with the ingredients that I love from there.”
In July, Ali competed with other chefs on the Food Network TV show, "Chopped." Her blend of Pakistani spices and Western cuisines won her the top award of $10,000.
“The fact that I won, I suppose was such wonderful validation, all like the sacrifices that my family has made to put myself through school, and to be away from home for so long and the biggest thing for me was to inspire other young Pakistani girls to follow their dreams,” explained Ali.
“She has great potential, and I give her another two to three years, and she definitely will be a master chef,” said Jan Hoffmann, executive chef at Cafe Centro.
Ali wants to make a difference through her cooking. She was first inspired by poor children at her mother’s charity organization.
“I think I was 12 or 15 when I set up my first food stall at one of my mother’s festivals to raise money for these kids the fact that I had made even a small amount of difference cooking for somebody, I think that’s what just sealed the deal for me,” Ali added.
Ali hopes to return to Pakistan and establish subsidized kitchens where poor families can enjoy low-cost, organic meals - and where teens can learn cooking and other job skills.
GUJAR KHAN: Only 22 per cent of Pakistani women are recognised as working in the formal sector, although many more play an active role in the country's economy.
The contribution of those in the informal sector has been undervalued for years, but now, many women in rural areas are taking the lead in their families, some through micro-credit loans.
Ambreen Ashraf got a loan of around US$230 two years ago, with which she bought a cow.
Selling its milk every month has enabled her to earn money - something she had never been able to do before.
She said: "It feels good that we can run our home easily and it helps my husband. The money from the cow makes things easier- there is a good atmosphere at home. Children are happy - they go to good schools and we're happy they can now get a good education."
Access to credit can be difficult for people in rural areas, so a local initiative has helped those like Ms Ambreen borrow money to start their own businesses.
The loan is guaranteed by the community organisation, made up of other villagers who then monitor repayments themselves.
It has been hugely successful and 60 per cent of the beneficiaries are women.
Rubeena Bibi, a mother of four, was given an interest-free lump sum, which helped her become the family's breadwinner.
She said: "I sew and earn money every month - can pay the bills and buy milk and also save. My husband earns less than me, so we're able to save with my money.
“I feel happy that I can help my children and husband, who is ill."
Across most of Pakistan and in rural areas especially, men call the shots and women's work are often undervalued.
According to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, women make up only 22 per cent of the labour force, but campaigners said this does not take into account those who work informally.
Some people however, welcome the idea of working women.
Community elder Mohammad Fazal said: "The women, besides making dinner and doing housework, used to sit around all day. But I think it's good to make them active in the community so they can also benefit. They're poor and hardworking and just want to increase their income."
Mohammad Tariq Nazir from National Rural Support Programme said: "They are earning and they are helping their husbands and they are providing support to their families. So within the family the women who are earning have their own say and they are being heard by the men now because of these activities."
While the situation is still bleak for many women when it comes to equal opportunities, some households are slowly shifting the traditional views of what a woman's role should be.
On the surface, it looks like it is all bad news, especially for female journalists. Despite the harsh working conditiones (low salaries, stress, violence), the fact remains that more and more women are joining media in Pakistan. And for a good reason. This is a country that has a story in every corner, waiting to be told. And women, by default, are great story-tellers. They also have so much to say, and are natural born "fixers". Journalism is thus a great career choice for us.
Pakistan's situation, of late has unearthed some new fields and exposed some voids waiting to be filled by reporters, who can choose them as their niches in the world of journalism. With the risk of sounding cliche, there are the proverbial "silver linings" to this mayhem.
Here's an example of one of the new beats opening up before women journalists: If earlier I was writing features just focusing on reproductive health and family planning, I now focus on how the security crises have affected women in conflict-ridden parts of the country. If roads are blown up and the infrastructure is damaged, women end up paying the highest price. For example, women in such areas would not be able to access hospitals for childbirth, and female doctors, for safety reasons, cannot travel to conflict zones. All this needs to be highlighted. And women reporters do that well.
In times of conflict, the vulnerable sections of society like women and children, are most impacted by displacement and losing the men in their lives. Women, as stakeholders in peace processes at any level, are often ignored. Their voice needs to be heard. Over time, the importance of this particular "beat" or focus as a journalist became obvious to me.
It was important that I was there at Peshawer's Lady Reading Hospital to talk to Fatima Bibi (not her real name) whose 14-year-old son had lost his limbs in a blast. She wanted to do something about it more than just weep. She went on to become a peace-builder in her own town. Her story needed to be told. And it was.
The good part, however, is that it doesn't really matter if you were a male or a female journalist in Pakistan. Media in this country is quickly becoming a sphere where the man-woman dynamic is not necessarily the defining factor. We are not second-guessed because we are women. We are treated as equals to our male colleagues. There is a definite air of synergy which is conducive to the nature of this craft.
Yes, we want to see even more women in key leadership positions in media houses, even right at the top. Indeed, many have gotten there, while others are on their way up.
The professional hazards, like being stared at or harassed, are not specific to journalism or Pakistan. If, as women we ask for equality, we have to handle these hiccups, although this does not mean staying silent about it. Over time, we learn to handle it. There may be a few "boys' clubs" that are a tad bit over-protective about their female counterparts, but generally, Pakistan's female journalists are a strong voice in the country's overall narrative.
MANDRA, Pakistan (AP) — Amna Bhatti has spent half a century shaping mud into bricks in a huge kiln south of the Pakistani capital, Islamabad. She started by paying off her parents' debt and now she's on to her late husband's. She'll probably spend the rest of her life here.
Bhatti was 10 when she started working at the kiln to pay off her parents' debt. Now, at 60, she is paying off the 250,000 rupees (approximately $2,500) in debt her husband left behind when he died 12 years ago.
She has managed to cut 1,000 dollars off that original loan, but has taken more loans from her employer — so it is doubtful she will ever emerge from debt in her lifetime.
"We are poor, and we will always stay poor. When you enter this road the only way out of it is death," Bhatti said, speaking next to the clay she was shaping into bricks.
Tens of thousands of other poor Pakistanis work hard in brick kilns, agriculture fields and other hard labor across Pakistan in what is called "bonded labor" to pay off family loans often passed down through generations. They often have no proper living facilities or basic amenities like running water or bathrooms. They generally make about 350 rupees a day (approximately $3.50) for their hard work.
There are no reliable statistics about the number of Pakistanis living and working as bonded laborers. But they can be found across the country working in agriculture, the carpet-making industry, brick kilns and other industries, according to the National Coalition Against Bonded Labor, a joint platform of different rights organizations.
Change is most difficult to recognize when it is actually happening.
It can often resemble chaos, even to those who demand it loudest.
Humera Ashique created history after becoming the first Pakistani woman to clinch gold in an international event in Nepal on Sunday.
The 24-year-old judoka took gold at the South Asian Judo Championship in Kathmandu as she defeated a Nepalese athelete to clinch the 48kg event.
The Lahore-based athlete is happy to realise her dream after training hard at the national camp since November. "I'm just relieved now," said Humera.
"I was so tired of failing to win the ultimate title. But after so many years and hard work I've finally managed to win a gold medal. Before leaving for Nepal I told my parents that I'll succeed. I performed sensibly and outplayed very tough opponents."
Meanwhile, Pakistan took second position in the overall championship with three gold medals, three silver and six bronze, next to India on the top, while Nepal finished third.
KARACHI, Pakistan – Just days into her job running a police station in Pakistan's largest city, Syeda Ghazala had to put her training to the test: she opened fire with her .22-caliber pistol at a man who shot at police when they tried to pull him over during a routine traffic stop.
It's not clear whether it was Ghazala's shots that wounded the man before he was arrested, but as the first woman to run a police station in Pakistan's often violent port city of Karachi, she'll likely have many more chances to hit her mark.
When Ghazala joined the police force two decades ago, she never dreamed that one day she would head a police station staffed by roughly 100 police officers — all men. Her recent promotion is part of efforts by the local police to increase the number of women in the force and in positions of authority. Shortly after she assumed her new job the city appointed a second woman to head another police station.
In a country where women have traditionally not worked outside the home and face widespread discrimination, the appointments represent a significant step for women's empowerment.
"The mindset of people is changing gradually, and now they (have) started to consider women in leading roles. My husband opposed my decision to join the police force 20 years ago," said the 44-year-old mother of four. But by the time this job rolled around, he had come full circle and encouraged her to go for it. "It was a big challenge. I was a little bit hesitant to accept it."
The station house is in Clifton, a posh area home to the elite of this sprawling metropolis of more than 18 million people. But in a city prone to family feuds, political unrest and jihadist violence — where 166 officers were killed in the line of duty last year — it's by no means an easy assignment. Crimes ranging from petty theft and muggings to terrorism or murder are all part of a day's work, Ghazala says.
Running a station is a high-profile job in the Pakistani police, one that requires the officer to constantly interact with the public and fellow officers. It's also a key path to advancement. Senior police officer Abdul Khaliq Sheikh, said he and others in the top brass hope Ghazala's appointment leads to more women joining the force.
"Our society accepts only stereotype roles for women. There is a perception that women are suitable only for particular professions like teaching," he said.
The police force is also training the first batch of female commandos, a group of 44 women going through a physically intensive course involving rappelling from towers or helicopters and shooting an assortment of weapons.
Currently, the two in Karachi are the only women running police stations in Pakistan. In the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, where women make up less than one percent of the roughly 75,000-member police force, women only run stations specifically designed to help female crime victims.
In the southeastern Baluchistan province, there are only 90 women on the police force and no women station heads. In Punjab province, only one woman has ever run a station house, back in 2005, but currently no women hold the position.
Ghazala said most people she has encountered in her new job have been supportive, and she's become a bit of a celebrity in the neighborhood. She said during her career she's only had a few instances where she's felt discrimination. When she got the highest marks in a training course required for promotion, some of the men objected, saying that in Islam women couldn't lead men.
But she said the commander simply told the men they should have gotten better grades.
"It was the only moment somebody objected to me as a woman," she said. "Otherwise, all my career, fellow and senior officers encouraged me a lot."
Samina Baig becomes the first Pakistani to scale Mount Everest
“Today at 7:40am local time Samina Baig has successfully reached the summit of Mt Everest together with her brother Mirza and the Indian twin girls Tashi and Nugshi!” Mirza Ali updated his blog on Sunday.
The brother and sister have engaged several dangerous mountains for the last 4 years. Against all the odds in a largely male dominant society, Samina and her brother have pushed all the limits for what they call “mission for gender equality and eco-realization’’.
The Everest Expedition was started on April 1st and is reported to be privately sponsored by Mirza and Samina’s Kiwi friends through Seven Summit, a Nepali tour operator. The people of Gilgit Baltistan have extended their congratulations to Samina and Mirza on the latest mountaineering accolade.
In a special message from London, MQM’s chief Altaf Hussain has congratulated Samina Baig for her courageous achievement.
"Samina Baig has made the nation proud by scaling the highest mountain of the world. I salute to the courage of the lady. Hopefully, Samina will be followed as role model by women of Pakistan. Her achievement will ignite zeal in women folk of the country”, Altaf Hussain said.
The love for Everest demands life. It always reciprocates human feelings with dangers. Gender equality, women empowerment and love for ecology were so dear to Samina that she did not stop until she had to— to pitch the victory flag on the top of the Everest.
One recently became the country’s first female fighter jet pilot. The other is CEO of a group of schools. Yet another left an engineering degree to become captain of the national cricket team.
Though terrorism has plagued Pakistan, women are bravely making inroads in different fields, defying all odds to represent the modern face of their country.
News and images of honour killings and acid attacks on women in the country often make headlines around the world, but the progress made by Pakistan’s women is hardly shown.
Women in Pakistan are building impressive careers, launching successful, independent ventures of their own and training young girls to follow in their footsteps.
With impressive resumes and university pedigrees that rival most male executives, these women are making waves.
“Most women in Pakistan are extremely progressive in their presence in every field whether it is politics, sports, entertainment, fashion, performing arts or business but all we need is to portray them positively,” said Ambreen K, who is pioneer member of the Pakistan Change Initiative (PCI) — a Dubai-based group working to highlight positive image of Pakistan. Ambreen said the PCI strives to present the positive side of the country through various events.
“We recently held an event in Dubai to showcase modern face of Pakistani women and their contribution to the society and it was a big hit,” she said.
Though traditional gender roles still exist for many women in Pakistan, some are making impressive gains.
They are part of a growing cadre of women who are determined to move forward despite threats from hardliners.
Women make up slightly more than half of Pakistan’s population of 180 million. Though only 17 per cent of them are considered “economically active”, given the chance they have proved their mettle in every field.
The women in Pakistan have never been so proud as when First Lt Ayesha Farooq became the first female fighter pilot in the Pakistan Air Force in 2013.
She had joined the Air Force at the age of 17 after battling to convince her mother to let her realise her dreams.
Cultural practices used to prevent many women from working outside their homes in Pakistan. Today, that is changing. More women are now leading a number of successful businesses in various industries while creating previously unheard of opportunities for other women.
One such woman is Fatima, an educationist and model in Lahore.
Fatima is the chief executive officer (CEO) of Beaconhouse School System, a network of private schools founded by her mother-in-law. Another example is Sana Mir, captain of Pakistan’s women’s cricket team, who has become a great inspiration for girls to join sports. Mir was enrolled in an engineering degree at a national university, but left to pursue her passion for cricket.
Pilates instructor Zainab Abbas was determined to be different when she opened her fitness studio, Route2Pilates, in Lahore after receiving training in Bangkok, Thailand. She carries out rehabilitation workouts for people with joint problems as well as specialised workouts for pregnant women.
Zahra Afridi chose to be an interior designer and runs her own interior design company. Her most recent project was the Classic Rock Coffee café in Islamabad. She is also an avid kick-boxer and regularly trains to stay fit.
Shama Zehra is founder and CEO of newly-launched Aligned Independent Advisors, a boutique independent advisory firm on Wall Street. It’s still a male-dominated area of finance, just 13% of brokers and advisors are female but Zehra’s unlikely to be unfazed. As a glance at her career path proves – engineer, business-owner, pilot and banker –resisting convention comes pretty naturally.
As a teenager Shama Zehra started her first business, a clothing company with her mom and her sister from a rack in the corner of their apartment in Pakistan. Over time the trio outgrew the apartment and opened a small factory with six staff. This led to a flagship store, sales to the Pakistani equivalents of Macy’s and pop- up stores at five star hotels, which brought about lucrative exports.
Still, attitudes to women-owned businesses dragged out simple transactions, says Zehra. “Pakistan is a very male-dominated society so over there a man rules, so that was one of the biggest challenges,” she says. Even more difficult was negotiating constant security risks like thefts and curfews as well as electricity blackouts which meant the machines couldn’t run.
The trio sold Zehra’s, and after a stint as a pilot, Zehra got into finance. She built the number one wealth management business at Standard Chartered Bank in Pakistan before emigrating to the U.S to become one of the largest producers at Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley MS +1.24%.
“Once you have your own business you really understand how to treat every job. I’ve always treated every job that I’ve had like my own company or my own business and that really does change the dynamic…as an entrepreneur you’ve got to do everything to make it work.”
With her latest venture, Aligned Independent Advisors, Zehra says she’s building a firm that’s totally independent but has a human touch, something she thinks has been lacking.
“It’s easy to find smart people in finance but it’s difficult to find good hearted, helpful and sincere people,” she says.
#Pakistan squash star Maria Toor of South Waziristan raises voice for equality at #AsianGames2014 via @rapplerdotcom http://www.rappler.com/sports/world/69831-pakistan-squash-equality-asian-games …
INCHEON, South Korea- As a child Maria Toorpakay Wazir had to dress as a boy to be able to play sports in Pakistan and now as the country's number one women's squash player she says there is still too much resistance.
Toorpakay, competing at the Asian Games in South Korea, vowed not to stop helping girls in Pakistan overcome discrimination and cultural obstacles even though she has received threats for her work.
"I feel that this is my responsibility," said Toorpakay after she was beaten by Hong Kong's Annie Au in the women's singles late Sunday, September 21. "I have to raise my voice for the other girls."
Toorpakay's family comes from Waziristan, the lawless tribal area in northwest Pakistan bordering Afghanistan. Malala Yousafzai, the acclaimed teenaged activist for girls' education, comes from the same region.
Toorpakay at first competed in weightlifting, frequently beating the boys at tournaments. But her father made her switch to squash, where her gender was discovered.
After being required to produce a birth certificate to play squash at the age of 16, the truth about Toorpakay came out and she was bullied by other players.
Toorpakay said Pakistan is changing – but very slowly.
"Always there are people who do support this logic but there are people who still resist this logic," she said.
But Pakistan's number one women's squash player believes the tide cannot now be turned back. Toorpakay said her rise in international squash should be an example to other young women in Pakistan.
"I have to give them the same opportunity so that they become champions too," she said.
Toorpakay turned professional in 2006 and came third in the World Junior Women's Championship in 2009.
"This is a beautiful sport, and today I feel that God has given me a chance to come up to such position," she said.
She vowed to help Pakistan's women to emerge from the shadows through sport, saying it had helped her overcome her tough life in one of the world's most dangerous regions.
"Squash is my lord and I've worked so hard to get to this position," she said. - Rappler.com
PMDC’s decision to fix 50 pc seats in medical and dental colleges for females to flout merit as usually 70 pc of all seats are secured by females
• AIMC principal welcomes decision, says girls do not work in far-flung areas after securing education
• Students suggest govt takes surety from all medical college students to work after education, instead of adopting quota system
The Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) has introduced a quota system in medical colleges restricting the seats for female students to 50 per cent, Pakistan Today has learnt, a decision which will ensure gender ‘equality’ but will discriminate against female students as more than 60 per cent of those securing admissions in medical colleges since 2008 are females.
Considering the “growing trend of females” in medical education but “decreasing sustainability” of females in the field, the council decided in a meeting in February that the “number of seats for males and females in medical education should be 50 per cent each”.
Interestingly, the decision taken in February was notified on September 18, stating that the new quota system would be applied on undergraduate admissions in all public and private medical and dental institutions for the Academic Year 2014-2015.
The notification comes at a time when the admission process in the medical colleges is ongoing across the country. Punjab held a medical college entry test (MCAT) in August and prospective students have now submitted their applications whereas the first merit list will be displayed on October 30. As per PMDC’s regulations, admissions in medical and dental colleges should be wrapped up by November 15.
The spinners Sana Mir, Sadia Yousuf and Nida Dar claimed two wickets apiece, as Pakistan Women retained the gold medal in the Asian Games after beating Bangladesh Women by four runs according the D/L method in the final in Incheon.
Set a revised target of 43 from seven overs, Bangladesh were on course at 30 for 2 after 4.2 overs, but they completely collapsed from there and lost their next seven wickets for just eight runs. Rumana Ahmed and Fargana Ahmed were the team's top scorers with 10 each, but none of the other batsmen could muster more than seven, as Bangladesh could manage only two fours in the entire innings. Four of Pakistan's bowlers went at under six an over, as the team kept Bangladesh to 38 for 9 to successfully defend the gold medal they won during the 2010 Asian Games.
Pakistan, opting to bat, had made 97 for 6 from their 20 overs. Bismah Maroof, Pakistan's leading run-scorer in the tournament, hit 24 off 27 balls, while Nain Abidi chipped in with 18. Legspinner Rumana Ahmed was the pick of Bangladesh's bowlers and collected 2 for 13.
Womenomics from Financial Times on
The first convert to Islam was a businesswoman. She was a wealthy trader who inherited her father’s business and later expanded it into an even more impressive enterprise. At one point, she offered a job to a man. He accepted and conducted a trading mission from Mecca to Syria under the tutelage of his female boss.
Her name was Khadija. He was the Prophet Muhammad, and the two later married. Khadija’s personal loyalty to the Prophet and her financial independence were essential pillars of support in the early days spreading the message of Islam.
These facts highlight the unusual economic independence of the woman Muhammad married – and his approval of her sovereign existence. This history is often missing from the narrative within and about Islam – one of many reasons why women have not been a significant economic force in the Muslim world. But this is rapidly changing.
Today’s Muslim world is comprised of 1.6bn people. That is nearly a quarter of the global population, and they contribute about 16 per cent of global gross domestic product, growing at 6 per cent annually. It includes rich petro-states at the cusp of dramatic change such as Saudi Arabia, UAE and Qatar, as well as members of what Goldman Sachs calls the “Next 11”: Pakistan, Bangladesh, Egypt, Turkey, Indonesia and Iran.
Half of these people – 800m – are women. There is an untold, unfolding story hidden in their classrooms, in their careers, and in their purses. In just a generation or two, a widespread education movement has elevated the prospects of millions of women in these countries, from Tehran to Tunis.
Millions of ordinary women and men have made conscious, and often deeply personal and brave decisions to break tradition, sometimes shunning cultural pressures. These myriad individual decisions will add up to a new segment of the labour market – and an unprecedented consumer power.
A movement has started where economics trumps culture. Changes that took half a century in the US are being compressed into a decade in today’s Muslim world, where they are set to continue at a significantly faster pace. Imagine if the US, in just a few years, had transformed from the 1950s era of The Feminine Mystique to Lean In in the 2010s. That is the magnitude of the change sweeping the Muslim world.
MEERAN PUR, Pakistan (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Azeema Khatoon, a mother of five, has spent most of her life laboring in Pakistan's sunbaked cotton fields for less than $2 a day.
Last year, she and a group of around 40 women struggling to feed and clothe their families on their meager wages did something almost unheard for poor women working in rural Pakistan - they went on strike. The gamble paid off.
Khatoon, 35, says she has nearly doubled her wage in the past year, now taking home $3.50 a day compared to $2, with her success just one story cited by labor activists to encourage rural women to band together and form a united workforce.
Agricultural wages in Pakistan have a massive impact on women, and in turn on their families. About 74 percent of working women aged 15 and are employed in agriculture, according to the International Labour Organisation.
The 2014 Global Gender Gap Report published by the World Economic Forum ranked Pakistan as the second worst country in the world in gender equality after Yemen.
Many women are employed informally on low earnings and with limited protection, with women's agricultural wages falling to an average of $1.46 a day in 2012 from around $1.68 in 2007, said the ODI in its recent Rural Wages in Asia report.
On top of the meager wages, women laborers also tell labor activists that landlords or managers will sometimes try to cheat them of their rightful money because they cannot read the records. Sometimes bosses sexually harass them.
Heat stroke, snake bites, exposure to pesticides and cuts on their hands from handling the rough cotton bolls are other hazards of their daily toil.
Khatoon and others have started bringing their school-age children to check the books, or tie knots in the edge of their colorful saris to count how many days they have worked.
"Even though they can't read the numbers of letters, they can say I have worked one day for each knot," said Javed Hussain, the head of the Sindh Community Foundation, which aims to improve the socio-economic conditions of communities and has trained 2,600 women in skills like bargaining and labor rights.
Muhammad Ali Talpur, the director of the government-linked Pakistan Central Cotton Committee, says owners are sympathetic to the workers' problems but warns paying much higher wages may drive Pakistan's cotton farmers out of business.
"Cotton producers are being squeezed by low prices and producers are having a hard time to meet their costs," he said.
Global cotton prices have fallen, hitting a five-year low this summer due to slowing demand from China, a glut in the market, and growing popularity of manmade fibers.
Pakistan produces about 13 million bales a year from a world total of about 119 million bales. This year the government has already bought one million bales to try to shore up the price.
Hussain said the Sindh Community Foundation talks to small landlords and trains workers how to read market prices, trying to ensure there is negotiation, not confrontation.
He said the bigger landlords weren't usually willing to negotiate over wages and there was no legislation protecting casual agricultural workers but small owners did often sympathize with their workers.
Karim Ullah, who owns a small cotton farm near Meeran Pur, agreed to pay his workers $3 per day this year but said he couldn't raise wages further unless cotton prices rose.
"We pay wages according to the rate at which the cotton is sold. Only if the going price increases can I pay the pickers more," he said. "Also, I'm just a small farmer. It's the big landlords with hundreds of acres who set the rate."
Antenatal and postnatal care for women in rural Pakistan has improved dramatically, thanks in part to the work of women like Shagufta Shahzadi, a skilled birth attendant trained under a UNICEF-supported programme.
KASUR DISTRICT, Pakistan, 3 December 2014 – “My biggest pleasure is to see that the mother and child are both healthy after the delivery,” says Shagufta Shahzadi, 30, a skilled birth attendant (SBA) who lives and works in Nandanpura village, Kasur district, in Pakistan’s Punjab province.
“There is a huge difference between services provided by a trained birth attendant and an untrained traditional midwife. A skilled person knows how to prevent and deal with complications during pregnancy, at the time of delivery and delivering postnatal care for mother and child.”
A day’s work for Shagufta could include delivering a baby, advising pregnant women on prenatal care, walking to the neighbouring village to provide postnatal care to a mother and the newborn. She takes a lot of pride in her work and feels a sense of achievement in the fact that due to her services, there hasn’t been a case of a pregnant mother or newborn death in her area over the last year.
Looking back at the struggle she had to make throughout her life, Shagufta recalls, “I was two months old when my father passed away. My mother raised me and my sister with the little money she earned by stitching cloths. Her resources were meagre, yet she made sure that we both completed our matriculation. Thereafter, we completed our respective trainings. My sister became a lady health worker, and I became a skilled birth attendant.”
“Due to the positive results of this programme, the Government of Pakistan has scaled up the initiative across the country,” says Dr, Tahir Manzoor, Health Specialist at UNICEF Pakistan. “In Punjab province, more than 5,000 women have been trained and are performing valuable services within their own communities. We can already see the positive impact of their services and are certain that it will improve the scenario of mortality and morbidity for mothers and new born children in Pakistan over the next few years.”
Shagufta believes that ensuring health and safety for mother and child is imperative.
“If mothers and children are healthy, the entire society will be healthy. The future generations will be healthy," she says. "We must try to save lives, as life is precious, and you only get it once.”
The fearless policewomen taking on the Taliban: Pakistan's female volunteers put through their paces in intense desert commando training
Policewomen will take charge in police raids within anti-terror operations
More women recruited as NATO forces pull out of bordering Afghanistan
Comes amid greater co-operation between Pakistan, Afghanistan and US
Running through the arid desert in the searing heat armed with AK-47s, these pictures show the gruelling work out undertaken by Pakistan's female volunteers.
They have been put through their paces in an intense commando training to help combat the Taliban.
After the training - which took place in the Hakimabad district of Nowshera in northern Pakistan - the policewomen will take charge in police raids within anti-terror operations.
More women are being recruited to fight the Taliban as NATO forces withdraw from neighbouring Afghanistan this month.
They also have the advantage of being able to perform jobs that men cannot - in the segregated and strictly religious world of Pakistan - women can only be searched by women.
Their training also comes in the wake of signs of greater co-operation between Pakistan, Afghanistan and the US in the last week.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2870426/The-fearless-policewomen-taking-Taliban-Pakistan-s-female-volunteers-paces-intense-desert-commando-training.html
Forbes 30 under 30 2015
Fiza Farhan, 28
Cofounder, Buksh Foundation
Farhan runs a microfinance institution, the Buksh Foundation that bring clean energy projects to poor, rural, areas of Pakistan. The foundation has trained 135 women as energy entrepreneurs; they’ve brought solar-powered lights to 6,750 households. Its business and clean energy loans have been extended to 12,000 entrepreneurs. Work of the Foundation is supported by investors and a network of local and international donors.
Check out stories of Pakistani female executives Jehan Ara (P@SHA), Zeelaf Munir ( English Biscuits), Tahira Raza (First Women Bank), Madiha Khalid (Shell Pakistan), Shafaq Omar (Unilever) and Atiqa Lateef (Byco).
(Bloomberg) -- In Pakistan, it’s difficult to find a more successful money manager than Maheen Rahman.
The 39-year-old turned a loss—making asset management company into a profitable acquisition target, led her flagship equity fund to the country’s top performance and positioned her new firm for what she estimates will be a 40 percent jump in client assets this year. For all that, Rahman still struggles to prove she belongs in an industry where all 21 of her rival chief executive officers are men.
“My biggest challenge has been building a reputation and trust in a market that values grey hair and being male,” said Rahman, who oversees the equivalent of $180 million in stocks and bonds as the CEO of Alfalah GHP Investment Management Ltd. in Karachi. “After all these years, I still routinely get asked why I don’t just design clothes.”
While Rahman’s rise to the top of a financial firm would have been almost unheard of in Pakistan two decades ago, her struggle to gain the acceptance of male peers illustrates the challenge professional women still face in a country with the smallest proportion of female workers among Asia’s 15 largest economies. Investors who bet on Rahman have been rewarded with a 443 percent return from her IGI Stock Fund since its inception seven years ago, 117 percentage points more than the benchmark index and the biggest gain among 34 peers tracked by Bloomberg.
Rahman, who’s also the youngest head of a Pakistani asset manager, has distinguished herself with timely bets on energy and interest-rate sensitive companies amid a rally in the nation’s $71 billion stock market that outpaced every other country worldwide except the Philippines and Sri Lanka.
Pakistan’s KSE 100 Index has returned 326 percent -- or 195 percent in dollar terms -- since Rahman’s IGI Stock fund started in July 2008 as the country completed its first-ever democratic transition of power, secured a $6.6 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund and pledged to sell stakes in state-run companies. Surging consumer spending and Asia’s highest dividend yields have also convinced investors to look past power blackouts and a war with Taliban insurgents on the Afghan border.
The gains for women in Pakistan’s $233 billion economy haven’t been nearly as strong. Just 25 percent of the nation’s female population is part of the workforce, up from 22 percent in 2008, according to data compiled by the World Bank. That compares with an average rate of 52 percent for Asia’s largest economies.
Even at Rahman’s firm, she’s one of just six women among a total staff of 48.
Rahman, the daughter of a Unilever Plc executive, graduated from Lahore University of Management Sciences in 1997 and earned a master’s degree in economics and finance from Warwick Business School in the U.K. She began her career as an analyst at Merrill Lynch & Co. in Singapore before returning to Pakistan. She joined BMA Capital Management, a Karachi-based brokerage, as the head of research in 2007, then took on the CEO role at IGI Funds Ltd. in 2009.
Rahman doubled assets under management in her first year at the helm of IGI and led the firm to a 15 percent return on equity -- a gauge of profitability. The gains came even as industry assets shrank 7 percent in the year ended June 2010, according to the Mutual Funds Association of Pakistan....
Last year, she began favoring companies that benefit from lower borrowing costs, a move that paid off as the central bank cut interest rates to an 11-year low. Some of her biggest holdings in the IGI Stock Fund as of January included Pak-Suzuki Motor Co., Pakistan’s biggest carmaker, and Lucky Cement Ltd., the nation’s second-largest maker of the building material.
Duke Political Review--Examples of Pakistan's growing civil society::
Humaira Bachal started teaching when she was twelve years old. Backed by her determined mother, who bore verbal and physical abuse for the sake of her daughters’ education, Humaira managed to go to school despite all the obstacles. Her mother would cut wood and sell it in the market just so she could keep sending her daughters to school as the men of the house were opposed to their education. In her home, in one of the poorest neighborhoods at the outskirts of the metropolitan Karachi, twelve-year-old Bachal then taught other children what she had learned at school. When she was fifteen, Karachi’s Rotary Club spotted her initiative. They provided funds so she could move this project of hers to another building. This became the Dream Model Street School. Another remarkable Pakistani woman, Oscar-winning Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy, filmed Bachal’s journey for the philanthropy Chime for Change—a campaign founded by the fashion house Gucci to further female empowerment—in a documentary titled ‘Humaira Dreamcatcher’. This documentary debuted at a concert in London where Bachal shared the stage with the pop star Madonna. The singer appealed for funds, and promised to contribute, to build a new structure that would house an expanded Dream School. Today Bachal’s school is educating 12,000 young Pakistanis. Bachal came up with an innovative way to encourage female enrollment. It was something like a ‘buy one, get two free’ offer—with every girl that parents admitted to the school, they would get to educate two sons free of cost. She has also pioneered home-based teaching for older girls and women, keeping in mind the social conservatism in the area. Humaira is a strong, independent Pakistani woman who is emancipating other women and furthering the cause of education in her community.
Another young Pakistani leader is Jibran Nasir. In the 2013 elections, he ran as an independent candidate and although he was unsuccessful, he gained the admiration of many by addressing taboo issues and through his unique campaigning—he refused to advertise himself on billboards and instead opted to spend the money on societal improvements such as fixing sewers to prove his competence. Come December 2014, the lawyer and human rights activist again rose to prominence when he took a stand against the Lal Masjid cleric, Abdul Aziz, who had refused to condemn the attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar. He was eventually joined by a few hundred more and when the cleric started threatening them, they refused to budge until the police registered an FIR against Aziz for inciting violence. Pioneering an unapologetic approach to taking on Taliban sympathizers, this attitude was fairly new to Pakistan’s civil society movement. Despite a disappointing turnout at his recent protests against the Sindh government for allowing a banned, sectarian organization to hold public rallies, and a social media campaign to defame him, the activist appears to be standing firm.
LAHORE: With Pakistani women often bearing the brunt of cultural barriers and inequality, the ladies-only Pink Rickshaw service has put women from Lahore in the driving seat to generate revenue for their families.
The service was launched with the intention of providing women from the lower social strata of society an opportunity to travel in comfort and at the same time giving them financial independence.
The women’s only service will also enable female commuters to travel without fear of getting harassed on the street. It aims to be a safer option as opposed to other forms of public transport.
Read: Polluting away: Mingora’s rickshaws whiz past govt regulation
As part of the initiative, the way women are perceived in the public eye will be revolutionised, encouraging other women to follow suit and enter the many male denominated professions.
“Thus, the initiative’s effect will perpetuate a virtuous cycle of women becoming self-reliant independent and productive members of the society,” states one of the objectives of the project.
Read: Gender Roles: ‘Women empowerment necessary for development’
The project informed that there is only one female taxi driver in the whole country and projects such as ‘The Pink Rickshaw’ will empower other women to open up to new opportunities and freedoms.
How High Can #Pakistan’s Air Force #PAF Women Fly?
Flight Lt. Ayesha Farooq, Pakistan’s only combat-ready female air force pilot, has become both an international celebrity and a symbol of a new Pakistan, where women are breaking barriers and taking on roles traditionally closed to them. Yet Pakistan is also known as a country where women’s place in society yo-yos up and down. For example, in the 1990s it entrusted the leadership of the entire nation to Benazir Bhutto while still resisting girls’ education and advances in women’s rights.
Given this contradictory attitude, how far can Pakistan’s female air force officers expect to go?
That’s hard to answer. The air force has been more progressive than other branches of the military. At its inception, it modeled its service environment after the British Royal Air Force. In the late 1950s, while receiving an increasing amount of American equipment and mentorship, its chiefs turned more toward the ethos of the United States Air Force, and women began serving as air force doctors and nurses.
Then, in 1977, Group Capt. Shahida Perveen joined the force as a psychologist in a prominent role; she did psychological testing for the recruitment center, then helped establish an Institute of Air Safety to research how human error led to air accidents. She describes receiving “red carpet treatment” on joining the air force, and credits Zulfikar Ali Bhutto — the prime minister at the time, and Benazir Bhutto’s father — with opening doors for women who had ambitions beyond the medical units.
Still, women remained barred from other branches of the air force until 1995, when Ms. Bhutto, as prime minister, persuaded Air Chief Marshal Abbas Khattak to think about women joining branches of the air force beyond the medical branch, “now that women were being considered for everything — thanks to her influence,” says Riazuddin Shaikh, a retired air marshal who served under Air Chief Marshal Khattak.
Female cadets were then recruited into administrative and accounting departments. They became air traffic controllers, worked in law, logistics and education. They were trained for aeronautical engineering, avionics and information technology; they played huge roles in designing specialized avionics software and managing hardware at air force bases. Despite some reservations among male officers, Air Marshal Shaikh recalls no serious adverse reactions.
Eight years ago, Lieutenant Farooq’s extended family saw her choice to join the air force as an aberration from a woman’s normal path, and they tried to dissuade her, she related in a recent lecture. But, she said, she took their criticism as a challenge that drove her harder to succeed. Today, she said, she is happily married to a fellow air force officer, and her once-skeptical relatives now ask how their own daughters can join the air force.
In the force, Lieutenant Farooq was trained like the men. When fuel fumes made her nauseated her first time up in a Mishaal propeller plane, her instructor simply passed her the controls and ordered her to fly. Only later, on her first solo flight, she related, did she really feel in control in the air, with the “entire world beneath my feet.”
These days, the Pakistani Air Force eagerly trumpets her rise as a symbol of its modernity. But Air Marshal Shaikh is realistic. “It will take time before a woman can ever become the head of a branch, or even the head of the air force,” he says — the implication being that we may never live to see it. Still, growing numbers of Pakistani women view an air force career as an option, not just to serve their country but to gain the ultimate feeling of control over their lives.
HerCareer is #Pakistan’s first female-only online jobs marketplace
http://techin.asia/1Gnp6yM via @Techinasia
In 2012, the World Bank estimated that female participation in Pakistan’s labor force measured a measly 28 percent. This figure was one of the lowest participation rates in the region, with Bangladesh (68 percent), Sri Lanka (46 percent), and India (36 percent) all ranking comfortably higher than Pakistan. However, what is heartening to note is that the female participation rate in 2000 stood at a paltry 16.3 percent, meaning that there was almost 12 percent growth and an additional 8 million women joined Pakistan’s employment pool during this time.
The reality of the situation is that more needs to be done to promote female inclusion and participation in the Pakistani labor force. To a certain degree participation is inhibited by cultural factors; the World Bank claims over 80 percent of Pakistani women cite domestic duties as a major reason for non-participation. Others such as lack of education and patriarchal attitudes towards working females also contribute to the abysmally low figure. However, as Pakistan’s economy continues to stagnate, there are greater expectations for women to be financially stable and contribute to household expenditure. The rising trend of female participation and presence of a thriving freelance community confirm this view.
Catering to market need
“Pakistani universities produce 800,000 women graduates every year,” says Abdul Muizz, founder of female-only jobs marketplace Hercareer.pk. “Most are eager to join the workforce and be productive members of society.”
Muiz says the inspiration for launching the portal came after several years of experience in the web services industry and a desire to target a niche market. Furthermore, he wanted to create a virtual community where women would feel comfortable interacting with each other, be able to reach out to mentors for assistance and advice, and promote gender diversity at the workplace.
The founder claims the startup experienced significant early traction soon after it launched in 2013. Despite a minimal marketing budget, word of the portal spread through referrals and recommendations, with many women eager to learn more. Today, HerCareer.pk has approximately 37,000 registered users and is a profitable venture. The startup has also partnered with multinational companies like Telenor and AP Moller Maersk to promote and encourage gender diversity. It counts several high profile female corporate executives as part of its pool of mentors.
Part of the reason for the startup’s success has been clear and demonstrated efforts by employers to maintain gender balance among employees. Companies in Pakistan are slowly understanding the positive benefits this balance brings to culture, talent retention, and organizational behavior and are willing to invest more resources to ensure the right mix. However, Muizz is quick to explain that this view should not be misconstrued as bias towards a particular gender. Firms aren’t compromising on their key hiring principles or skills they wish to see in a particular candidate. They’re simply willing to cast the net far and wide, carefully screen candidates before filling a particular position, and do all they can to ensure an environment where women feel safe and protected. “There’s no special treatment,” he adds.
Jobs are just one component
Community feedback has also been vital in helping to tweak the startup’s model. Muizz reveals that the overwhelming majority of users wanted assistance in marketing themselves better and therefore appealing to employers. Some were also geographically restricted. They wanted to work, but their circumstances did not allow them to maintain a steady 9-to-5 job, and wanted to freelance instead. Acting on this feedback, Hercareer started to diversify its services, and incorporated a strong element of content marketing. Users were now using the portal to seek advice, post questions, and apply for opportunities.
Breaking stereotypes and driving through gender-based obstacles, Shamim Akhtar from Rawalpindi is Pakistan’s first female truck driver.
The 53-year-old single mother said “Nothing is too difficult if you have the will, however if women make themselves believe that they can’t do certain tasks then nothing works for them.”
Driving cars for many years, Akhtar decided to step out of Pakistan’s traditional domestic rule which requires women to stay home, when she saw her family going through financial hardship.
Therefore, in order to support two children at home and to cover the cost of her three eldest daughters’ weddings, Akhtar set off to take driving lessons for heavy vehicles.
“My son tells me not to drive too far, it’s dangerous but I told him that we have to earn a living. We only eat when we earn,” Akhtar said as she prepared herself to transport a load of 7000 bricks from a factory in Rawalpindi to Azad Jammu and Kashmir, a gruelling 200 kilometres trip.
An inspiration for many, she was issued a public service vehicle license, a first for a Pakistani woman- allowing her to pull trailers, drive trucks and tractors.
“Whatever I am today, it is because of the Islamabad Traffic Police training course,” Akhtar said humbly.
Further, while most Pakistani male drivers lack formal driving lessons for heavy vehicles, Akhtar seems to have an edge over the men which she uses to teach a novice.
And among many of her colleagues, her student Usman Ali too, has a lot of respect for Akhtar.
“She behaves well, and treats us like her sons. We too treat her as a mother and that is how our relationship is,” one of Akhtar’s colleagues said for her.
BBC News - Meet Shazia Parveen, #Pakistan's first female fire fighter http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-34427826 …
A young woman is breaking taboos in Pakistan by being the country's only female fire fighter.
It is a highly unusual job in a conservative country where millions of women still struggle for basic rights like health care and education - at least three million girls are not in school and, in many rural and remote areas, child marriage is still prevalent.
Twenty-five-year old Shazia Parveen, who lives in a small village in South Punjab, wanted to prove that women can work alongside men regardless of how challenging the job is.
Can Soccer Bring Gender Equality to #Pakistan? #Karachi FC has both men's and women's divisions http://nyti.ms/1PCpeMO
KARACHI, Pakistan — Every Pakistani boy, it seems, has dreamed of becoming a star in one of the country’s national sports: cricket, field hockey or squash. But access to sports, like so many other things here, has historically rested on class, gender and privilege; the poorest are denied the same opportunities as the rich, and girls have been left out all but completely.
The Karachi United Football Foundation, however, believes that football — the kind Americans call soccer — can bring ethnic, sectarian and gender diversity to Pakistani sports. By promoting the game at the grass roots, the foundation is investing in football not just as a sport, but as a democratizer.
Sports have always mirrored politics in South Asia. The British introduced football in the 19th century; it thrived in the Bengal region, where enthusiastic local players competed barefoot against British military teams. Elsewhere on the Subcontinent, however, cricket eclipsed football; Indian cricketers, whose political ambitions revolved around independence, were more eager to beat the British at their own game.
Pakistan’s interest in football began at the time of the country’s formation: The Pakistan Football Federation was created in 1947, and Pakistan joined the Fédération Internationale de Football Association in 1948. The game became extremely popular in the provinces of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, in the western part of Pakistan, but drew most of its players from the former Bengali state, from which East Pakistan had been created.
In the 1960s, a golden age for sports in Pakistan, cricket, squash and field hockey were taught at elite schools like Aitchison College in Lahore, where the scions of reputable families could become sporting icons, backed by financial support and social connections. With foreign tours came international acclaim, and cricket’s popularity skyrocketed.
Meanwhile, football was finding popularity in the less affluent streets of Quetta, Karachi and Dhaka. Karachi’s slums, with their large populations of Sheedis and Makranis — many of them descendants of slaves from Africa who had settled in Sindh and Balochistan — held passionate matches in which players were barefoot, cementing the game’s reputation as a “poor man’s sport,” according to the journalist Ali Ahsan in the newspaper Dawn.
Soon Pakistan’s national team was playing Iran, Iraq and Sri Lanka. Pakistan even faced Israel in the 1960 Asian Cup qualifiers, but the severing of diplomatic relations in 1967 prevented any repeat match.
Then, in 1971, came East Pakistan’s independence as Bangladesh, costing Pakistan the most valuable players for its national and international teams. With the nation as well as the teams struggling to recover, only large corporations and institutions like the army, railroads or the Water and Power Development Authority could afford to hire footballers to form company teams.
Football in Pakistan has many challenges to overcome, including scant media attention, and a dearth of money and corporate sponsorship. Pakistan also lacks a strong regular organization to supervise football properly on a national level.
Yet with Sacramento Republic Football Club’s signing of Kaleemullah Khan, who captains the men’s national team, to be the first Pakistani football player for an American club, and the Pakistani women’s team captain, Hajra Khan, trying out for three Bundesliga clubs in Germany this summer, it’s obvious that football talent exists in Pakistan. And that there is reason to believe the Beautiful Game can do something beautiful for Pakistan.
#Pakistan woman commando armed with H&K MP5 ensures safety of #Sikh pilgrims from #India http://www.indiatimes.com/news/world/this-pakistani-female-commando-stood-guard-as-indian-sikhs-visited-nankana-sahib-on-gurupurab-247886.html …
Last week, a Pakistani female commando was spotted at Wagah railway station, standing guard as Indian Sikhs boarded the train to visit Nankana Sahib on the auspicious occasion of Gurupurab. With a Heckler & Koch MP5 no less.
Several hundred Sikh pilgrims took a special train to arrive in Pakistan to attend the three-day long festivity commemorating 547th birthday of Guru Nanak.
At a time when India is grappling with the menace of intolerance, this photograph shows how humanity knows no communal discord. As Daily Pakistan reported, the message behind this powerful image is twofold. First, it breaks through the threshold that divides India and Pakistan on religion.
And second, it buries the 'stereotypes' that Pakistan's been associated with, towards its women.
While it comes as a surprise for most of us, a woman Pakistani guard deserves as much respect as any male commando should. And hats off to Pakistan for taking a giant step towards upholding communal tolerance.
Women nurture saplings, earn income reforesting #Pakistan with billion trees in #KP. #PTI #ImranKhan #climatechange http://fw.to/AWpdL5M
Robina Gul has swapped her needle for a trowel. Until recently, the villager from northern Pakistan got by making clothes for family weddings and religious festivals, but now she is encouraging other women to set up tree nurseries like hers that can earn them a handsome monthly income.
Gul is growing some 25,000 saplings of 13 different species crammed into the small courtyard of her two-room house in Najaf Pur, a village of around 8,000 people in the Haripur district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
"It gives me immense pleasure to look after the saplings as this has changed my whole life," said Gul, 35. "It has become a hobby for me and a source of income too."...
She set up the nursery at her home in March last year under an agreement with the provincial forest department. The government provides around a quarter of the start-up cost for poor households to set up a tree nursery, with a subsidy amounting to 150,000 rupees ($1,429.93) each over a year.
They first get black polythene bags from the forest department to fill with mud and manure, followed by seeds and training on how to sow them and tend to the trees.
"I am now getting over 12,000 rupees per month [from the subsidy], just by looking after the saplings in my home," Gul said. "I have also acquired the skills I need to grow different seedlings, and this will help me earn enough even after the project is wound up."
The provincial government is planning to spend 21 billion rupees from its budget through to May 2018, when its term ends, on a project called the "Billion Tree Tsunami." The goal is to plant 1 billion trees in degraded forest areas and on private land.
The project is part of the Green Growth Initiative launched in February 2014 in Peshawar by former international cricket star Imran Khan, who is chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, which governs the province.
The initiative aims to boost local economic development in a way that uses natural resources sustainably, with a focus on increasing clean energy uptake and forest cover.
The government has turned forest restoration into a business model by outsourcing nurseries to the private sector, including widows, poor women, and young people. This provides the government with saplings to plant, as well as green jobs for the community.
At the same time, illegal logging has been almost eliminated in the province following strict disciplinary action against some officials who were involved. Other measures include hiring local people to guard forests and banning wood transportation.
According to government data, Pakistan has forest cover on 4.4 million hectares (10.87 million acres) or 5 percent of its land area, while the current rate of deforestation is 27,000 hectares per year, one of the highest in the world.
The forestry sector contributed $1.3 billion to Pakistan's economy in 2011, or around 0.6 percent of GDP, while employing some 53,000 people directly, according to Global Forest Watch.
In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, individuals interested in setting up a small-scale nursery of 25,000 plants are selected by Village Development Committees.
The provincial government guarantees to buy the saplings they grow, according to Malik Amin Aslam, adviser to Khan and global vice president of the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
"The government provides seeds and all relevant technical assistance to the beneficiaries, and then buys back one-year-old saplings at a fixed price of six rupees per seedling," he said.
So far, there are 1,747 private and 280 government-run nurseries in the province, with a planting stock of 45 million and 165 million saplings respectively, he said.
Aslam said the government had planted 115 million saplings so far and sown seeds for 300 million more at a cost of 1.5 billion rupees, with a survival rate of over 80 percent ...
BBC News - #Pakistan's Female CEO and Most Successful Investment Banker Maheen Rahman on breaking gender barriers http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-35468487 …
Pakistan's finance sector is dominated by men but the country's most successful investment banker is a woman.
Maheen Rahman ranks fifth in Forbes 'Top 40 under 40'.
Pakistan correspondent Shaimaa Khalil went to meet her.
A #Pakistani girl's boundary-breaking motorbike journey across #Pakistan's length & breadth @CNNTravel http://cnn.it/1nEUnar
Zenith Irfan's father used to dream of leaving his home in Pakistan to travel around the world on a motorbike.
His early death meant he never fulfilled his wish.
As his eldest child, Irfan decided to take up the challenge -- and along the way smash stereotypes inPakistan as a female biker.
The 21-year-old student from Lahore, northeast Pakistan has become a fearless rider in the past two years, traveling through regions of the conservative country where it's taboo for women to venture out unaccompanied, let alone on two wheels.
But the transformation didn't come easy to her.
In 2013, when her younger brother bought a simple bike with a small 70cc engine, her mother urged him to teach Irfan how to ride and encouraged her to finish her late father's ambition.
"At the beginning it was a big struggle for me," says Irhan. "I was so confused about how to manage the gear, the clutch, the brakes.
"It was very confusing and frustrating but then I got the hang of it."
She began using the bike to run errands around Lahore.
In June last summer, she decided to venture further afield with a six-day solo trip through the Azad Kashmir region, a disputed region in northeastern Pakistan that borders India and China.
"I want to go to Kashmir because I've heard so much about it," she adds.
"They say 'Kashmir, Jannat E Nazir,' meaning it's a paradise on earth.
"I don't want to be that person who just sees it in pictures -- I want to go and experience it for myself on my motorcycle," says Irfan.
She traveled first to Pakistan's capital, Islamabad, then rode against stunning backdrops of mountains, rivers and lush landscapes to Murree -- a suburb located on the southern slopes of the western Himalayan foothills.
From there she rode on to Pakistan-administered Kashmir's capital Muzaffarabad.
Then she continued through the region's forested Neelam Valley with picturesque towns and villages like Sharda and Kel.
"When I was on the road, it was like a coming together of my mind, body and soul," she says of being out of the congested cities. "I felt free.
"I could meditate properly. I really felt different, very emotional and liberated."
Buoyed by the success of her first long distance trip, in August 2015 she decided to go even further, biking 3,200 kilometers from Lahore through North Pakistan up to the Khunjerab Pass on the border with China.
On arrival, she was pleased to be told that while foreign female riders had previously traveled there, she was the first Pakistani motorcyclist the locals had met.
Over the course of 20 days, she had traveled to places including Deosai Plains -- one of the highest plateaus in the world -- and Chilas, a very conservative small village where residents hostile to outsiders threatened her with rocks.
Her main concerns were about road accidents as she motored alongside trucks on treacherous roads.
The ever-present danger wasn't enough to stop her.
"I'm not so fearful because I know that if death has to come, it'll come anyway even if I'm at home," says Irfan.
"I can't avoid it. I can't obstruct my dreams because of a fear of death and accidents."
Three women boxers from #Pakistan competing in #SouthAsianGames2016 in #India http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/pakistans-women-boxers-look-up-to-mary-kom-as-their-role-model/1/595028.html …
Three Pakistani women boxers - Khoushleem Bano, Rukhsana Parveen and Sofia Javed - are on the verge of scripting history on Indian soil, when they step into the ring for the very first time.
The three pugilists credited the biographical sports film on five-time world champion and Indian boxing icon Mary Kom as the biggest influence which has inspired them to take up a career in boxing.
"We have been watching Mary Kom and it (movie) has really influenced us," the trio, donning their tracksuits with the Pakistani flag embroidered on it, told IANS.
However, the young Pakistani boxers admitted that it was not an easy journey for them initially, when they informed their family and friends about their decision to take up boxing.
"There are a lot of anti-groups who don't accept us. Initially, even our family and friends were not happy with us. But now everyone is supporting, be it our government or the boxing federation," Khoushleem said.
In fact, the trio picked up boxing only in the early part of 2015 and were trained by their coach Nauman Karim - a bronze medallist at the 2003 World Boxing Championship - at Lahore, Islamabad and Peshawar for the multi-national sports event.
"We stepped into the boxing ring just eight months ago. I know it will be tough to fight with an experienced boxer like Mary Kom and others, but our coaches have trained us well to fight in the ring," Khoushleem said.
But the 23-year-old, who hails from the scenic valleys of Gilgit-Baltistan, is eagerly looking forward to meeting Mary Kom in the boxing ring.
"I know it will be tough to fight with an experienced boxer like Mary Kom. But I am sure I will learn a lot from her in the boxing ring," Khoushleem who will be competing in the fly-weight (51kg) category, said.
Rukhsana, who was member of the Pakistan World Cup Kabaddi team which won a bronze medal in Punjab in 2014, said, "After having learnt that Pakistan has no woman boxer, I took up the challenge to fight in the boxing ring."
"The movie Mary Kom has motivated me to take up this challenge. Insha Allah (If God's willing) you never know we might go back home with a medal from here," the 60kg category pugilist from Multan said.
Sofia Javed, who also made a reference to Mary Kom, said, "I am very happy to be in India and to make our international debut here. We have been practicing hard for more than a year for this event."
Crediting her coach and family members for all their support, the 20-year-old from the Peshawar said, "We are all happy to make our debut here in India. I am mentally prepared for the competition and optimistic to get a medal for our people of Pakistan."
The trio also foresee that women's boxing will progress in Pakistan with people supporting them for taking up the challenge to wear the gloves which were once only worn by male boxers in their country.
"Women's boxing will surely progress by leaps and bound in Pakistan. A lot of people have helped us. Our government, boxing federation and our coaches have assisted us with an open heart to fulfill our dreams," Rukhsana said.
Appreciating the Pakistani women boxers for being influenced by her biography, Mary Kom asked Khoushleem, Rukhsana, and Sofia to "keep fighting and never give up halfway". She also hoped that the three Pakistani ladies will do well on their international debut.
"They need more motivation. If they need my help they can always come to my (boxing) academy (at Manipur)," the 2012 London Olympics bronze medallist said.
Yasmin Khan wins #Taekwondo gold for #Pakistan at #SouthAsianGames2016 in #India http://nation.com.pk/sports/14-Feb-2016/yasmin-wins-taekwondo-gold-for-pakistan-in-sag …
Pakistan’s Yasmeen Khan won lone gold medal of the day for Pakistan in Taekwondo in the 12th South Asian Games on Saturday. 16-year-old Yasmin, who came from US along with her father 7th Dan Sohail Ali Khan, who is also head coach of Pakistan taekwondo team, to represent Pakistan at SAG. Yasmin won Gold Medal in Taekwondo under 46kg category.
In other events, Pakistan’s Kaleem Ullah was the only medallist other than Indians as he won silver medal in men’s air pistol event. Pakistan also managed to win silver medal in men’s air pistol team event as well while Pakistani women shooting team managed to win bronze medal in pistol team event.
Apart from these heartening performances, it was the worst day for Pakistan in boxing and Kabaddi. There were lot of eyebrows raised from different quarters regarding poor selection of male and female boxers for the event but no heed was paid, as Doda Khan Bhutto-led Pakistan Boxing Federation enjoys unlimited backing of Pakistan Olympic Association President Lt Gen(R) Syed Arif Hassan, who had closed his eyes and keeping mum on streamlining boxing affairs. Parallel federation led by Doda had inflicted huge damages to Pakistani boxing for the last several years, but no one bothers to seek explanation from Doda and his close aides.
It was highly poor day for Pakistani boxing history, as defending champion in 56kg Weight category, Naimat Ullah, who had promised to defend his title, was beaten in the first round by completely unknown Sri Lankan. Naimat was already carrying left eye injury, which he received during training in Pakistan. The punch of the opponent landed on his same injured eye and blood started to pour out, which left judges with no option but to stop fight.
Mohib Ullah did manage to win his fight against Bangladeshi opponent in 49kg weight category and reached into the quarterfinals. Tanveer also won his fight in 75kg weight category against Sri Lankan opponent, Gulzar lost in 64kg weight category fight against Bhutan boxer. It was another black day for Pakistan Kabaddi as male team lost to India 8-9. Same old story was repeated in women kabaddi as Pakistani women lost to India 25-56. What was the purpose of sending those players, who doesn’t even know the basics of kababdi. Sources present at the venue informed The Nation that people were laughing at Pakistani players.
Sisters were made captain and vice captain. It was hard to believe that Pakistan Kabbadi Federation had sent kabbadi team or school-going girls were picked to represent national team. PKF secretary Rana Sarwar should be held accountable for selecting well below par both male and female teams, which had brought huge embracement for the country.
While Pakistan contingents started to arrive back home after going through pain and agony, it takes them around 48 to 50 plus hours to reach Pakistan. Squash team players had arrived back home, while gold medal winning hockey team also left for Pakistan on Saturday.
India stood atop with 268 medals (156 gold, 85 silver and 27 bronze), way ahead of second placed Sri Lanka 163 (25, 55, 83). Pakistan were at third with 81 medals (9, 27, 45).
#Women: Drivers of change in #Pakistan. #BenzairBhutto #MalalaYousuzai #SharmeenObaidChinoy http://bit.ly/1TtiMxw
Pakistan was the first Islamic country to elect a woman prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, and is home to the youngest Nobel Prize winner, Malala Yousufzai. Pakistani women have conquered Mount Everest, they fly fighter jets and sit in many top academic positions. Many other Pakistani women have had leadership roles, and now Chinoy is a driver of change. Yet, the reality of Pakistani women’s everyday living defies an easy description.
Women in Pakistan live with widespread gender-based discrimination, attitudes that are preserved by patriarchal, tribal and cultural traditions and the twisting of Islamic injunctions. Discriminatory legislation, unresponsive state institutions reinforce this inequality.
Killing women for ‘honour’ — the subject of Chinoy’s documentary — for marrying a person of their own choice, something that is allowed by religion and law, is a feature in Pakistani society. The real figures, believed to be higher, may never be known, but the government last year admitted on the floor of the National Assembly that there were 456 and 477 such cases reported in 2013 and 2014, respectively. As close family members commit these murders they are not reported. Only in one case has the state pursued the killings as murders.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) claims on the basis of the Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey that 39 per cent of 15 to 49-year-old married women have been subjected to abuse by their spouse and one in ten has experienced violence during pregnancy. Due to social taboos more than half the women who experienced violence, kept it secret.
The societal bias against women, which was institutionalised during General Zia Ul-Haq’s regime (1977-88), has resulted in massive abuse against women.
Feeble attempts by Benazir and General Pervez Musharraf to undo such laws floundered against opposition from the ‘mullahs’. Many of these laws continue to deny women their constitutional rights to gender equality, raising legal and administrative barriers to their political and economic empowerment.
Pakistan’s successive governments have demonstrated little courage in standing up to the clergy who consider women ‘a commodity’ and vehemently oppose any progressive legislation. And any change that has been approved, the governments have been too lax in implementing them. Pakistani men, it seems, are not ready to give up male privilege.
One major reason why these oppressive attitudes and customs have persisted is the low level of education among women in Pakistan. According to the 2015 United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Human Development Index, Pakistani women spend only seven years in education compared to men who are marginally better with 8.5 years. With only 1.9 per cent of gross domestic product earmarked for education, women end up benefitting even less. Pakistan is meeting only nine of its 33 indicators on women’s empowerment for the Millennium Development Goals, says the UNDP report.
Educated urban women, from well-provided families, who, like Chinoy, should be drivers of change in Pakistan, have mostly chosen lives that are not resistant to societal norms. The premium on their education is not what they give back to society, but finding a good marriage match. There are few people like Chinoy bringing forth the plight of women who are suffering the strangulation of a culture often misrepresented in the name of religion.
Educating and empowering women can address many of Pakistan’s problems. While the ruling structure dithers, ‘determined women’ such as Chinoy, Yousufzai and others are the trailblazers in Pakistan and much of the developing world.
Excerpts of Architect and sociologist Arif Hasan in the News:
Pakistan is no longer what it was 25 years ago. There have been huge social, political changes. And these are not considered when dealing with policy.
There has been an eclipse of feudalism. Led by the collapse of the local system of commerce, governance, the panchayats, the jirgas, the patels, the numberdaars. They are no longer present. Moreover, the state has not tried to fill this gap. As a result of this change, many things have happened.
In the rural areas, the link between caste and profession has broken. The village artisans who provided services through barter system today work in cash. They have migrated to urban areas. The rural areas are entirely dependent on the urban produced goods. That is a very big change.
Another change is mobility. People move all over for trade and commerce. Where once roads used to be empty, today they are full of trucks. The Anjuman-e-Tajiran in various cities/towns has become an important political player. They are in constant negotiation with the state.
Women have emerged out of nowhere in public life. This trend is rapidly increasing. They dominate the public sector universities. Gender roles have changed. Extended family is disappearing.
All these changes require new society values and new governance structures, so that they can be consolidated.
All the reasons described above. Our population has increased 600 per cent since independence. There is technology/invention, cash has replaced barter, there are new varieties of seeds, farm sizes have become smaller, and the landless village labourer cannot afford the village’s dependency on urban produce.
Since 2000, over twenty universities have been established in small towns of Pakistan. Those who are studying in these universities are men and women from surrounding areas and villages. We have more people who are educated now. TV has also contributed in changing the values. Court marriages have increased. Migration abroad has also contributed to change in values. According to our study, migration and remittances have caused the breakdown of the family system.
All these factors have contributed to this change. Furthermore, you cannot close a country off from changes that are taking place all over the world. All these factors may lead to turmoil unless we can support them.
Our so-called Islamic values are being violated all the time. We see roadblocks (protests) against injustices and women are active in these roadblocks; be they against karo-kari, excesses by the wadera, water shortage or anything.
These things were unheard of before. It shows that the society is fighting back. They are fighting back conservatism with contemporary values.
Media projects a lot of injustices against women, but they do not project the changes taking place, nor are they projecting the role models who are challenging these traditional barriers. Role models, too, are just individual cases, like Malala.
The problem is that not only the state, even the opinion makers and academia are not grasping these changes. They are constantly dealing with conditions, not with trends. Societal changes need to be understood, articulated and brought into consciousness. Right now, these are not being articulated at all.
Who says there is no space for dialogue? Nobody is stopping people from reaching out. We are in a trap. We keep talking about jihad, cruelty of the state and society, and no doubt all this is there. We are talking about all this in the framework of nostalgia.
The past was a period of elitist politics. This is a period of populist politics. Karachi was the way it was because it was colonial port city being governed by colonial elites. Today, it is run by populist political parties.
The past was a very oppressive system, and it went on because people used to accept the oppression. Now there is freedom, most importantly, freedom to choose. The only thing is that people do not know what to do with this freedom.
More from Arif Hasan:
The institutional imbalance has harmed Pakistan. This imbalance is located in the very foundation of this country, which has been a consistent actual and perceived threat from India. And India, too, has done everything possible to help with the development of this perception.
No, it is not on its way to course correction. Our political establishment is far too weak, corrupt and very much involved in seeing its class interests served.
The list would be: (i) A general depoliticisation of police, to whichever extent it is possible; (ii) Provision of housing for low-income groups. It is doable; (iii) The development of union councils as effective service providers. A Karaciite should not need to go to his religious or political organisation to get a birth or a death certificate done, or admit his mother to a hospital, or get a friend released from police custody. All this has to come under the purview of the union councils, and a Karachiite should have access to its secretariat. These measures would go a long way in making Karachi peaceful.
Right now 72 per cent of Karachi’s population is engaged in the informal sector. Karachi cannot survive that way. We need institutions to manage this. We need to have proper services for them, the industrial sector needs to be developed, you need to have a better organised services sector. We have minerals in the land around Karachi. Instead of giving this land to the Bahrias and the DHAs, this land should be turned into an agriculture zone which should provide for the city.
The most important requirement is good governance; a system that ensures that the needs of the people in such a large city are met.
Social change in Pakistan: a conversation with Mr Arif Hasan
BloomsburyPakistan organised an event, ‘Social change in Pakistan: a conversation with Mr
Arif Hasan’ on May 11, 2015.
The migration from rural areas, along with global influences from informal capitalism, forced
huge changes in the character of urban areas as well, particularly in katchi abaadis. Once
these abaadis were purely working class settlements, women did not work, the informal
sector worked only within these abaadis, and language reflected social hierarchy. Now, these
are no longer working class settlements: global communication technologies have flooded
them, women have educated themselves and are working in service sectors, and people have
developed a strong sense of identity and aspirations that they did not have before. If we take
the age group from 15 to 24 as an illustration, the effect of these changes can be observed. In
1981, 39% women and 17% of men in this age group in Karachi were married; extrapolating
the 1998 census shows that less than 18% of women and less than 6% of men are now
married. As the demand for education increases, a huge network of private schools has
emerged. As children of this generation grew up, many new universities were established,
both in public and private sector.
A very powerful trend that captures various aspects of these changes is the significant rise of
court marriages. In 1992, there were 10-15 marriage applications per day. By 2006 this had
risen to more than 200 per day and by some estimates the number now stands at around 800
per day. This rise indicates changes in family structures, weakening of biradari system,
heightened consciousness of individuality and personal aspirations.
Just as in rural areas, these progressive changes are being resisted in urban areas as well by
conservative forces which have joined hands with religious elements and use informal
economic power – land mafias for example – to retain power. The religious element received
a huge support from the state as well during the Zia era which saw state suppression of
student politics, artistic activities and political dissent. As a result, the overall tenor of society
has remained conservative with a rising anti-western/modern discourse. Yet, beneath the
surface a process of individualism and freedom continues, as reflected in the figures for
education and marriage choices. One way in which many young people, women in particular,
have negotiated these dynamics is by adopting conservative religious symbolism – the veil,
for example – while continuing to participate in modern life.
Despite the generally pessimistic picture painted above, Mr Hasan remained optimistic about
the future. He saw the current struggles as a necessary phase in social transformation, and
expressed the belief that human spirit for freedom has awakened in the younger generation,
particularly women, and in the medium to long term this spirit will overcome conservative
resistance. His approach was a good example of Gramscian words that “I'm a pessimist
because of intelligence, but an optimist because of will.”
A star rises from poverty, is killed defying #Pakistan norms. #QandeelBaloch
Like most of the men in this village of mudbrick homes and wooden carts pulled by water buffalo, Muhammed Azeem cannot read or write. Like the other fathers, he raised a family of six boys and three girls on whatever he could coax out of a soil baked by the searing Punjab sun.
But in a culture where a family’s worth is tallied in the number of males it can produce and girls are second-class citizens at best, Azeem was different.
He valued his daughters as much as his sons.
He raised them to be independent young women. When one of the girls married, she refused to take her husband’s name. Another changed hers to Qandeel Baloch and became famous, shocking this conservative Islamic country with risqué dance videos that showed her in skin-tight clothing grinding against men.
Azeem didn’t care. He loved Qandeel - whose new name meant “torch” in their native language.
“I supported everything she did,” Azeem says, tears glistening on his weather-beaten face. “I liked everything she did.”
Her father’s love helped make Qandeel a role model to a generation of young Pakistani women. But it also may have planted the seeds of her destruction.
Her younger brother Muhammed Wazeem seethed. It was bad enough that he couldn’t compete with his sister for their father’s affections, and lived in a home that she paid for. But even worse was the relentless sniping from villagers. Storekeepers would show him her Facebook posts on their phones, criticizing his family for allowing her to make the videos.
He decided he had to save the family’s “honor.” Last month, he drugged Qandeel and then, as their parents slept downstairs, strangled her.
In most so-called honor killings, families close ranks around the killer. But Qandeel’s father wants his son punished.
“My son was wrong,” Azeem said. “I will not forgive him.”
t is a paradox of today’s Pakistan, a deeply religious country where 4G service and social media have arrived in even the most isolated communities, that one family could produce a wildly untraditional daughter and a son so traditional he felt compelled to kill his sister for her 21st-century ways.
Qandeel’s home village, Shah Saddaruddin, is a seven-hour drive from the capital, Islamabad, a journey through sugar-cane and mango fields, often on roads that are no more than dirt tracks. Murky streams and canals flow through a vast countryside owned by feudal landlords who keep their workers deep in debt.
Most girls are hidden away once they reach puberty, and many are married shortly afterward to a boy chosen by their parents. Occasionally, women are exchanged to pay off a debt, or to settle a dispute.
“Women here are strictly controlled,” Qandeel’s sister Munawar Azeem says. “It’s our tradition, but Qandeel was stubborn, she always wanted more, had different ideas.”
Fortunately, there are others who understand her murder for what it was. In recent years, Pakistan has witnessed a political revival of its feminist tradition. Decades after the Women’s Action Forum led a 1980s women’s movement against the military dictator General Zia-ul-Haq, a new generation of activists is challenging the patriarchal status quo. This includes groups such as Girls at Dhabas that have, in less than a year, initiated a countrywide conversation on women’s access to public spaces. It includes the Feminist Collective, which has taken up political fights such as public campaigns in support of domestic violence legislation. It includes the Awami Worker’s Party’s Women’s Democratic Front, organising in working class communities and taking on feudal landlords in local elections.
It is clear that for this new generation of feminists, Qandeel’s murder was a catalyst. Countless enraged denunciations were delivered on social media and on the airwaves. Protests erupted across the country and a petition demanding justice and accountability by a feminist group was signed by thousands.
Within days, the Pakistani government, not known for bold stands against patriarchal violence, announced the introduction of a long-delayed anti-honour killing bill. The bill, criticised as inadequate by activists, is unlikely to work without broader social and legal reform, but will be an important exercise in state signalling nonetheless. A perceptible shift in consciousness appears to be under way.
In his book Metapolitics, the French philosopher Alain Badiou says that all political consciousness emerges from moments when the truth of power is forced to reveal itself, “undermining the illusion of the existing order”.
Through her life and death, Qandeel laid bare the truth of patriarchal power in Pakistan. Her murderer wished to silence her audacity in death; her detractors wanted to bury her defiance in shame. Instead, she ended up teaching a lesson about the reality of Pakistani patriarchy to a generation of feminists unlikely to forget it.
#Pakistan airline ‘pilot sisters’ make cockpit history by flying Boeing 777 as Captain & Co-pilot #WomensEqualityDay
Maryam Masood and Erum Masood made history on Tuesday as they flew the coveted Boeing-777 aircraft to several local and international destinations concurrently, Express News reported.
The two sisters flew the plane concurrently from Lahore to Karachi, Manchester, New York and London.
The duo was able to turn their dream into reality after the younger sister Irum recently got her license to travel along her elder sibling.
It is reportedly for the first time in the country’s, in fact South Asian history that two real sisters captained a plane such as the Boeing to operate several flights together.
However, Pakistani women have earned honours for the country in the airline chapter, earlier as well.
In November last year, 24-year-old Flying Officer of Pakistan Air Force (PAF) Marium Mukhtar was martyred when her training aircraft crashed near Mianwali.
In 2006, seven women broke into one of the country’s most exclusive male clubs to graduate as fighter pilots — perhaps the most prestigious job in the powerful military and for six decades closed to them.
#Pakistan: Women trained in motorcycling for mobility as part of government-supported program @AJEnglish
Women in Pakistan are getting on their bikes in a bid overcome the barriers that limit their mobility and ultimately widen economic and gender inequalities.
Under Women on Wheels, a government-supported project, 35 women who had been trained to ride motorcycles participated in a rally on Tuesday in the city of Sargodha, in Punjab province.
Launched in January this year, the initiative encourages women to become independent, and reduce their reliance on male relatives for day-to-day activities, as well as getting to school, college or work.
Tuesday's event was attended by Ingrid Johansson, the Swedish ambassador, representatives from UN Women Pakistan, local police and provincial officials.
The rally resulted in a rare sight. It is something of a taboo for women to ride motorcycles in Pakistan, a common form of transport for men, in cities and the countryside.
As dozens of women raced through the district in the Punjab on their motorcycles, their message was clear: We will be independent.
I attended Silicon Valley book launch of Pakistani-American Saqib Mausoof's "The Warehouse".
The Warehouse is set in Pakistan's federally administered tribal area (FATA) that has seen a powerful Taliban insurgency since the US invasion of Afghanistan.
The author's novel's protagonist is Cash (Syed Qais Ali), an insurance company adjustor from Karachi who ends up in Waziristan to survey damage in a warehouse fire.
During discussion at the launch event at PACC last Saturday, Sept 10, 2016, Mausoof said he saw many FATA women attending Namal University in MIanwali that was founded by PTI Chief Imran Khan.
Namal University is located close to Pakistan's tribal areas where women have traditionally not benefited from higher education.
Mausoof saw several women from FATA wearing veils using computers and developing software in information technology classes at Namal.
Fyza Parviz, originally from Peshawar but currently in SF Bay Area, confirmed that she too is seeing many veil or hijab wearing Pashtun women from KP's rural areas attending colleges and universities.
Fyza Parviz originally hails from Peshawar Pakistan and has been living in the Bay Area for 14 years. She is a Software & Electrical Engineer by profession and loves to read, write, attend events, and create literary experiences. She is also the Web Producer for the Annual Bay Area Book Festival in Berkeley. She is currently developing an engaging Online Social Platform for writers and readers. Her short stories, essays, and reviews have been published in PaperCuts Magazine and LitSeen.
Here's a news story from last year's graduation ceremony that feaured Imran Khan as keynote speaker at Namal:
Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Imran Khan on Sunday attended the convocation ceremony of Namal University at Mianwali.
Imran Khan, while addressing the ceremony gathering, welcomed the Parents of the students hailing from Waziristan and also extended his congratulations to the parents whose children earned Bradford degree.
Imran Khan, in his message to the students, said that those people had never failed, who stuck to their aim, adding that unfortunately quality education in Pakistan was not accessible to poor’s segment of the society.
Between 2004 to 2011, when the Indian economy grew at a healthy average of about 7%, there was a decline in female participation in the country’s labour force from over 35% to 25%.
India does poorly in comparison to its neighbours despite a more robust economic growth. In comparison to India, women in Bangladesh have increased their participation in the labour market, which is due to the growth of the ready-made garment sector and a push to rural female employment. In 2015, women comprised of 43% of the labour force in Bangladesh. The rate has also increased in Pakistan, albeit from a very low starting point, while participation has remained relatively stable in Sri Lanka. Myanmar with 79% and Malaysia with 49% are also way ahead of India.
Wearing a pretty floral headscarf to match her dress, Pakistani's first female commercial truck driver certainly stands out among her colleagues.
Shamim Akhtar, 53, from the city of Rawalpindi, is breaking down barriers by becoming the first woman in her field - but the practical widow and single mother-of-five was just trying to make ends meet when she took up her unique career.
'If you have the will, nothing is too difficult,' she said in an interview with Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty. 'If you believe you can't do anything, then you will accomplish nothing.'
Ms. Akhtar needed a way to support her two underage sons and pay for the weddings of her three adult daughters when she took up driving professionally.
She already knew how to drive a car - unlike in nearby Saudi Arabia, it is perfectly legal for women to drive in Pakistan - but it is still quite unusual for women to work outside the home in the Middle Eastern nation. As of the end of 2013, only 24.4 per cent of Pakistani women work at all, according to Pakistan's Federal Bureau of Statistics.
After taking eight months of driving lessons for heavy vehicles, she was eventually issued a public service vehicle license, which allows her to pull trailers as well as drive trucks and tractors. It was the first license of its kind to ever be issued to a Pakistani woman.
'I am able to do this now because of the Islamabad Traffic Police training course,' she said.
While it can be difficult for women to break into male-dominated fields, and many men in the area still firmly believe that a woman's place is in the home, Ms. Akhtar's skill and humility have helped her earn the respect of her colleagues.
'At first we had doubts, but when she started driving the truck, our minds changed,' one said.
Another added: 'She behaves well, and treats us like her sons. We treat her as a mother. So that is our relationship.'
However, she still faces some discrimination in the workforce. Recently, she passed a driving test to apply for work on a new bus line in Islamabad - but she was told that, despite her qualifications, they had no plans to hire women.
There are also dangers on the road for a woman, which one of her sons worries about: 'My son tells me not to drive too far, it’s dangerous. But I told him that we have to earn a living. We only eat when we earn.'
Ms. Akhtar continues to plug away, though, and is encouraging other women to strive for equality as well.
'My message to my fellow women is to try to do something all the time,' she said. 'Don't believe you are weak and can't do anything. We are capable'
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3247869/Mother-five-Pakistan-s-female-truck-driver-hopes-new-career-encourage-women-peruse-equality.html#ixzz4MXdn3a9Y
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Pakistan's first female truck driver has a message to the women of her country: "Nothing is too difficult." Shamim Akhtar hopes to be a role model after becoming the first Pakistani woman to get a driving license for heavy vehicles. But in a country where men dominate the roads, the journey to gender equality can be a bumpy one. (Produced by Siraj Zaheer and Stuart Greer)
#Pakistan’s women-only #universities are 'progressive' spaces. #EducationMatters #genderparity https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/pakistans-women-only-universities-are-progressive-spaces … via @timeshighered
Women’s universities in Pakistan are providing a positive and “progressive” space for female scholars and students, one of the authors of a major UK study of female academic careers has said.
The existence of women-only universities has divided Pakistan’s academy since the first such institution was established in 1998, with critics claiming they pander to religious extremists and help to entrench gender segregation in the Muslim-dominated state.
However, the single-sex institutions have grown significantly in number in recent years. Twenty-two of Pakistan’s 161 universities are open to female students only, although they have both female and male faculty.
Victoria Showunmi, lecturer in education at the UCL Institute of Education, said she was impressed by the positive environment she found at the institutions she visited during a three-year British Academy-funded project on the academic careers of female staff.
The study, carried out with University of Leicester education academics Saeeda Shah and David Pedder, interviewed 40 female academics at both mixed-sex and women-only universities in Pakistan. In addition, almost 500 women responded to a questionnaire on challenges to career advancement.
In light of Dr Showunmi’s visits and the responses to the project, the UCL academic concluded that Pakistan’s single-sex institutions were overwhelmingly positive for both academics and students.
Describing her visit to Fatima Jinnah Women University in Rawalpindi, she said the institution “never came across as anything but a progressive space”.
“There were stories of some leaders holding some people back [for promotion], but it was the same type of story that we hear in the UK,” said Dr Showunmi, who presented the results of the project at the British Educational Research Association’s annual conference in Leeds last month.
“I am, of course, looking at it through my own lens as a black female UK academic, but it came across as a very good place for women academics to progress,” she added.
Dr Showunmi said the study, which involved annual visits to universities in Lahore, Rawalpindi and Islamabad between 2012 and 2015, as well as reciprocal visits to the UK by Pakistani academics, had shattered many of her preconceptions about female academics in Pakistan, who, she said, were very keen to travel abroad as well as gain advancement in their own country.
“Many of them aspired to do or had done two or three years in a different country, often sponsored by their government,” said Dr Showunmi, adding: “How many female academics in the UK go abroad for their PhD?”
Many of the barriers to academic promotion raised by women were also flagged by men, such as the lack of an embedded research culture and excessive teaching loads, the study found.
Women did face specific challenges, such as male-dominated leadership groups and family responsibilities, although these could also be cited by UK academics, Dr Showunmi said.
“It was refreshing to hear the conversations, as we could have been listening to academics in the UCL staff room,” she explained.
“There was a different religious context, but many were the same issues of work-life balance or difficulties in trying to access resources faced by [female] academics in the UK," she added.
#Pakistan's female #cricket star Sana Mir is blazing a trail — but there's still a lot of work to do http://www.pri.org/stories/2016-10-21/pakistans-female-cricket-star-blazing-trail-theres-still-lot-work-do … #womenslives
by Caroline Beeler
I’m an American — and the only thing I knew about cricket until about a week ago was that they take a break for tea in the middle of the match.
So when the most famous woman in Pakistani sports agreed to show me how to throw (or bowl, actually) a cricket ball — it was a little embarrassing.
Evidently, I bend my elbow a bit too much, Sana Mir tells me.
Mir is the captain of the Pakistani women’s cricket team and at age 30, she's already a veteran. She hands me back the ball — it’s like a small baseball.
“Just keep this elbow straight, and bring this hand as straight as possible," Mir says. "Better! Yeah?”
We’re at the Lahore Country Club. Behind us, pitchers are running toward batters and hurling the ball overhand at them.
The batters knock them away with big, flat wooden bats.
“When I started off, there were hardly any girls playing cricket, so it was on the streets with my bigger brother ... where I learned,” she adds.
Mir’s father was in the army, so they moved a lot. And every time they did, she had to prove herself again to the neighborhood boys.
“All those tests that I had to give, in every city and every team, show that I have got cricket in me," she says. "[It] made my belief stronger that I am better at cricket than many other things."
And in Pakistan, that means something. The sport is huge here. Imagine the popularity of football, baseball and basketball all rolled into one, and you’ve got cricket.
In 2003, Mir gave up a spot at an engineering university to pursue cricket full time. She got a push from her father.
“He said that we have got a lot of female engineers, we don’t have a lot of female cricketers,” Mir recalls.
Since choosing sports over academics, Mir has helped build up Pakistan’s first professional women’s cricket team. As captain, she’s led the team to wins in big international tournaments and against neighbor and longtime rival, India.
Up-and-coming bowler Maham Tariq attributes a lot of the team's success to Mir’s leadership.
“I have no words to express — she’s so amazing," Tariq says. "In fact, on the field and off the field, her attitude, she’s so always motivated. Playing under her captaincy, I think I can’t ask for more.”
But Mir says she’s most proud of how her team’s performance has affected the country off the field.
"There are two kinds of perceptions we have been able to change. One is that Pakistani women can’t play cricket, or any sports. This was the perception we changed inside Pakistan," she says. "Outside Pakistan, a lot of people thought that women are not allowed to do stuff in Pakistan. So that is another perception that we have been very proudly able to change.
Even though it’s getting more acceptable for women to play cricket, it’s still not exactly easy.
There are no dedicated fields for women. They don’t have the same cricket clubs as men. Women’s participation in all sports is low here — no Pakistani woman has ever won a medal at the Olympics.
Mir says supportive families who encourage pushing boundaries are key to moving toward gender equality.
“These girls are here not because these girls wanted to change something, but their families, their fathers, their brothers, their parents, their mothers wanted to change. So this is something that’s really encouraging for me to see,” she adds.
How a teen #Saudi girl singer found her voice and her freedom in #Pakistan. #Music http://www.pri.org/stories/2016-10-28/how-saudi-singer-found-her-voice-and-her-freedom-pakistan … #womenslives
She moved from her home in Saudi Arabia to Pakistan six years ago to study computer engineering. For Yaqub, it meant freedom from Saudi Arabia’s stricter Islamic laws.
And it’s in Lahore where she started singing — in public — at her university.
At just age 19, Yaqub was discovered by music producer and mentor Xulfi — imagine Simon Cowell, except nicer. She started as a backing vocalist for Xulfi’s television music series, "Nescafé Basement."
Then she started recording her own music.
“I knew that I could sing, but I never thought I’d be taking it forward as a career because I’ve come from a very conservative place. It’s been frowned upon, being in showbiz,” Yaqub explains.
Working on one of the country’s most popular TV shows got her exposure.
And doing a cover from her favorite band helped her move from backup singer to headliner.
Her stunning version of Coldplay’s hit, “The Scientist,” has been streamed tens of thousands of times.
“I really, really admire Coldplay. It’s one of my most favorite bands," says Yaqub. "They really inspire me because, if you listen to their very first album, it’s original. It’s all them. You can feel that there is nothing in there that’s composed to please people so much, and that’s the reason I like it so much.”
But Yaqub says she is done with covers. She’s writing her own music. Her new EP is called "Échapper" — the French word for "escape."
She says the inspiration came from her desire to escape when her family put pressure on her to move back to Saudi Arabia after she finished her degree in computer engineering.
She was desperate to stay in Pakistan.
“I knew that I wouldn’t be able to pursue my music in Saudi Arabia, and I wouldn’t be able to live as freely as and independently as I do in Pakistan. So that was the inspiration behind the EP — because I just wanted to escape that prison-like feeling.”
She was able to convince her parents to let her stay in Pakistan and pursue music.
She spends her days working for a Pakistani music streaming site. The rest of her time is spent writing and recording music in her cozy apartment above a pizza place.
But split between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, Yaqub says that she feels like she has two lives.
“I know that in Pakistan I’m just myself. I’m just who I want to be. But I know that in Saudi Arabia, I’m what my parents expect me to be, what my parent’s friends expect me to be or my relatives want me to be. So in that sense, Pakistan is a place where I can be myself,” she explains.
She is quick to add that her parents are supportive. And that her dad approves and encourages her.
"I’ve asked [my dad] a million times, 'Do you want me to stop? If you tell me to stop I’m going to stop.' And he says, 'No I don’t want you to stop, I just want you to be happy and do what you want to do,'" Yaqub says.
And, at least for now, Pakistan is where she’s happy.
#Pakistan army fights tribal zone insurgency with needles and thread. #FATA #Taliban #skills http://www.thenational.ae/world/south-asia/pakistan-army-fights-tribal-zone-insurgency-with-needles-and-thread … via @TheNationalUAE
MIRANSHAH, NORTH WAZIRISTAN // Major General Hassan Azhar Hayat makes an unlikely trailblazer for women’s liberation.
A battled-hardened commander in the Pakistani army, he has spent the last eight years in the rugged tribal zone of North Waziristan, a notorious stronghold of the Taliban and Al Qaeda.
From his base in the main town of Miranshah, he speaks about how more than 800 of his men have died in the two-year operation to bring peace to the region.
But as he hops into his car for a guided tour around town, his war-weary tone lightens up as he talks about his new counter-insurgency tactic. It doesn’t involve guns or tanks, but needles, thread and mixing bowls. And the opening salvo will take place at a newly-built school, which will soon be running embroidery and cooking classes.
"We’re hoping to get women to enrol so that they can go on to set up their own boutiques and maybe even cafes," beams Gen Hassan. "Women didn’t used to run businesses in this part of the world – we’re trying to change that."
Whether any local menfolk will try to enrol in the classes remains to be seen. Gun-loving and religiously conservative, North Waziristan’s tribesmen are not known for their interest in sewing, much less for sharing classrooms with women.
All that, though, may now be about to change.
For by introducing these remote corners of Pakistan to the values of the 21st century, the army hopes to challenge the very culture that gave the militants a foothold in the first place.
North Waziristan, a region of jagged, lunar mountains on the Afghan border, is a case in point. It lies in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas – or Fata, the government’s acronym for the vast chunk of north-west Pakistan that has never submitted to their rule, or anyone else’s.
The origins of the Fata stretch back to the 19th century, when even the British Empire found the local Pashtun tribes too fierce to control. Ever since, they have been largely self-governing, with tribal jirgas, or courts, replacing the law of the land.
But when Taliban and Al Qaeda militants flooded over the Afghan border after the US-led invasion in 2001, that hands-off approach helped North Waziristan become a terrorist safe haven. Not only did locals respect the militants’ piety and fighting prowess, their ancient tribal hospitality code forbade them to hand them over to anyone else.
"In the old days, this town was 50 per cent dependent on smuggling and 20 per cent dependent on terror," says Gen Hassan. "People would rent their houses to the jihadists, who’d pay well in dollars from their foreign backers. We want to get people back to humanity again, by making them useful members of society."
Thousands of families suspected of harbouring extremists are also being put through deradicalisation programmes, where religious scholars teach "the true meaning of Islam".
#Pizza Hut set to open 75 new outlets to double its restaurants in #Pakistan - The Express Tribune #FastFood
KARACHI: American fast food giant Pizza Hut has decided to double its presence in Pakistan, the company and its local partner announced on Friday, adding that they would open 75 new outlets at an approximate investment of $3.4 million.
During a ceremony at the US Consulate in Karachi, a new franchise agreement was signed between Yum! Brands – a Fortune 500 company that owns Pizza Hut – and its local partner MCR. The deal was aimed at expanding Pizza Hut’s presence in Pakistan and adding to its network of 75 outlets over the period of next five years.
Robot waiter serves food in Multan’s pizza outlet
While the official press release stated that the agreement commits to an expansion of “150 new Pizza Hut units in Pakistan”, Pizza Hut (Middle East) General Manager Randall Blackford confirmed that the company is targeting a total number of 150 outlets across the country.
“We are currently operating at almost 75 units in Pakistan and we are going to double this number in the next four to five years,” he told The Express Tribune.
“Pizza Hut has a long list of first milestones, which include the first food product to be sold over the internet and the first food product to be delivered to outer space. Therefore, it is natural that we want to reach the milestone of first restaurant chain to have 150 outlets in Pakistan,” he added.
Inaugurated in December 1993, Pizza Hut was the first international franchise to enter Pakistan and also the first one to expand its presence in all four provinces of the country. It currently operates under MCR, a Pakistani company that is part of the services sector for the past 25 years.
“Pakistan is a great market for us and we have made so much progress over the years that we want to double it again,” said Blackford, when asked about the motivation behind expansion. “Additionally, Pizza Hut is a massive revenue-generating brand especially in this part of the world, hence our eagerness to capitalise on the market.”
Meanwhile, MCR President Aqueel Hasan said that the agreement presents a massive opportunity for Pakistan, adding that the country was looking at approximately $3.4 million on average in investment alone from the deal. “The amount of investment varies between the size of the proposed outlets, but the figure is anywhere from $300,000 to $600,000 per unit,” he said. Moreover, the agreement has been slated to generate around 3,500 jobs, excluding the spill-over effects from the expansion.
Social media battle erupts over pineapple on pizza
“This is a huge investment not only in monetary terms, but also it terms of skilled labour force available in the economy,” said Blackford. “Each outlet has a couple of dozen people working, so hiring them and training them – that is a massive investment in time.”
Baskin-Robbins #icecream chain coming to #Pakistan starting with 35 stores in big cities #Lahore #Karachi #Islamabad
Baskin-Robbins, the world’s most known ice cream chain, has announced that it has signed a master licensing agreement with AHG Flavours (Pvt) Limited and aims to set up 35 Baskin-Robbins shops across Pakistan, with Lahore being the main focal priority.
“Baskin-Robbins is famous around the world for offering an extensive variety of 31 ice cream flavours to its guests and we’re looking forward to treating our customers across Pakistan with the same flavourful experience,” said AHG Flavours Chairman Irfan Mustafa.
“We look forward to opening our first Baskin-Robbins shop in the months ahead.”
AHG Flavours CEO Harris Mustafa, an industry veteran, welcomed Baskin-Robbins in Pakistan in his classic boldness, “Abhi to party shuru hoi hai,” meaning the party has just started.
Aussie globetrotter in love with biryani, Chaman ice-cream
Baskin-Robbins restaurants in Pakistan will feature the brand’s extensive selection of classic ice cream flavours, including Pralines n’ Cream, JamocaTM Almond Fudge, Mint Chocolate Chip and Very Berry Strawberry, alongside regional favourites such as Mango Tango and Tiramisu.
The brand will also offer its delicious range of custom ice cream cakes, frozen beverages, ice cream sundaes and take-home ice cream treats.
Six delicious recipes you must try this Ramazan
“We are pleased to be collaborating with Irfan, Harris and their team to begin developing the Baskin-Robbins brand in Pakistan by bringing our wide range of delicious ice cream flavours, cakes and other treats to Pakistani customers,” said Dunkin’ Brands International Vice President John Varughese.
Baskin-Robbins currently has more than 7,800 restaurants in more than 50 countries around the world.
Most #McDonald's Restaurants in #India's Capital #NewDelhi Closed Until Further Notice http://cnnmon.ie/2slq93d via @CNNMoney
Finding Chicken McNuggets in New Delhi just got a whole lot tougher.
Most McDonald's (MCD) restaurants in India's capital city were shut on Thursday because their operating licenses have expired.
Connaught Place Restaurants Private Limited (CPRL), the fast-food chain's licensee in northern and eastern India, took the decision to close 41 of its 53 resturants.
The Indian partner is "working to obtain the required licenses," McDonald's Asia spokesperson Barry Shum said in an emailed statement. "India continues to be an important market for McDonald's and we are committed to working with CPRL to resolve the issue as soon as possible," he added.
News of the restaurant closure was first reported by the Economic Times newspaper, which said around 1,700 employees would lose their jobs in the process.
Shum dismissed those claims as "erroneous," saying McDonald's was told employees will be kept on and paid their regular salary even while the stores are closed. CPRL did not respond to requests for comment.
McDonald's currently has more than 400 franchises across 65 Indian cities, and the country's burgeoning middle class presents an opportunity to grow further in Asia, particularly after the firm sold most of its business in China earlier this year.
But for now, most of the Delhi stores listed on the fast food giant's online store locator in India have a big red label that reads "temporarily closed."
Pakistan's First Female Police Chief Breaking Cultural Taboos in Peshawar
Rizwana Hameed made history a month ago when she became the first female head of a male police station in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, or KPK, where conservative cultural and religious traditions often discourage women from leaving home.
Hameed has been a member of the provincial police force for the past 15 years and has participated in numerous crime investigations as well as daring raids against suspected criminal terrorist hideouts.
But after becoming the first officer to supervise a male police station in a predominantly conservative male society, she is feeling the pressure.
"It’s a very difficult job for me," she said.
But Hameed is enjoying the job and is determined to undo the impression women are a lesser creed.
“If men are asked to take on household responsibilities and babysitting, for the whole day I don't think they can handle them. Whereas women can easily handle professional responsibilities outside the home also,” she said.
The police officer says women in the surrounding localities have been until now reluctant to enter the police station with their complaints and discuss them openly with male police officers.
“Peshawar is a closed society where women mostly confined to their homes. And even if they are subjected to domestic violence they endure it and avoid publicly talking about it," she said. "But my presence here is now encouraging them to bring problems to the police station and their number is growing by the day. And when their problems are solved they take back a message of satisfaction to their communities, which is emboldening other women to visit the police station."
Pashtun families in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province have been traditionally reluctant to allow their women to join the police. That is why there are hardly 10 percent women police personnel in the entire province. But officials say the trend is changing because of projections in media of women police officers..
“Even some of our female complainants also ask me after their issues are addressed whether they can join the police and I sit down with them to explain the process,” Hameed said.
Police station chiefs in Pakistan, she says, have to spend most of the time in the office, so the doors are open for complainants all the time, making family life a bit difficult even for men officers.
"But my husband and my in-laws are very cooperative with me, even though they know I am not spending enough time with them after assuming my responsibilities as the SHO," Hameed said. "I try to manage both and stay in contact with the family via cell phone because they still need my supervision in some areas."
The provincial police department is also conducting awareness campaigns in woman educational institutions to encourage them to join the force. Hameed said she believes the induction of more women will help bring down incidents of domestic violence and so-called family-honor related crimes against women in the province.
Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province has been at the forefront of the country’s war against terrorism and extremism and has borne the brunt of violent attacks. However, security conditions have improved, encouraging women to look for jobs in areas traditionally considered only for men.
In #Pakistan's #coal rush, some #women drivers break cultural barriers. #Hindu #Thar #energy #Sindh
As Pakistan bets on cheap coal in the Thar desert to resolve its energy crisis, a select group of women is eyeing a road out of poverty by snapping up truck-driving jobs that once only went to men.
Such work is seen as life-changing in this dusty southern region bordering India, where sand dunes cover estimated coal reserves of 175 billion tonnes and yellow dumper trucks swarm like bees around Pakistan’s largest open-pit mine.
The imposing 60-tonne trucks initially daunted Gulaban, 25, a housewife and mother of three from Thar’s Hindu community inside the staunchly conservative and mainly-Muslim nation of 208 million people.
“At the beginning I was a bit nervous but now it’s normal to drive this dumper,” said Gulaban, clad in a pink saree, a traditional cloth worn by Hindu women across South Asia.
Gulaban - who hopes such jobs can help empower other women facing grim employment prospects - is among 30 women being trained to be truck drivers by Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC), a Pakistani firm digging up low-grade coal under the rolling Thar sand dunes.
Gulaban has stolen the march on her fellow trainees because she was the only woman who knew how to drive a car before training to be a truck driver. She is an inspiration to her fellow students.
“If Gulaban can drive a dump truck then why not we? All we need to do is learn and drive quickly like her,” said Ramu, 29, a mother of six, standing beside the 40-tonne truck.
Until recently, energy experts were uncertain that Pakistan’s abundant but poor-quality coal could be used to fire up power plants.
That view began to change with new technology and Chinese investment as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a key branch of Beijing’s Belt and Road initiative to connect Asia with Europe and Africa.
Now coal, along with hydro and liquefied natural gas, is at the heart of Pakistan’s energy plans.
SECMC, which has about 125 dump trucks ferrying earth out of the pit mine, estimates it will need 300-400 trucks once they burrow deep enough to reach the coal.
Drivers can earn up to 40,000 rupees ($380) a month.
Women aspiring to these jobs are overcoming cultural barriers in a society where women are restricted to mainly working the fields and cooking and cleaning for the family. Only this week in Saudi Arabia, a close ally of Pakistan, women were granted permission to drive for the first time ever, ending a ban that was supported by conservative clerics but seen by rights activists as an emblem of suppression.
Gulaban’s husband, Harjilal, recalled how people in Thar would taunt him when his “illiterate” wife drove their small car.
elan | Shattering the Glass Ceiling: 11 #Pakistani #Female CEOs Who Are Defying Odds. #Pakistan #gendergap
Sima Kamil, President of United Bank Limited (UBL):
In March 2017, United Bank Limited (UBL) announced the appointment of its first female CEO Ms. Sima Kamil. She promptly took charge of overseeing operations in over 1200 chains including the largest Islamic banking wing in Pakistan.
Her previous appointment as the head of another major banking network in Pakistan, HBL, had ensured her experience in managing operations in the bank’s Retail, SME and Rural Banking wing in over 1700 chains all over Pakistan.
Roshaneh Zafar, Managing Director, Kashf Foundation:
Ms. Zafar hails from a family of philanthropists, so it comes as no surprise when she ventured into launching her own microfinance organization along with a team of four other women. She received her first start up loan in 1996 and has since supported over 500,000 women and their families through her organization.
Ms. Zafar has also been awarded the ‘Tamgha-e-Imtiaz’ one of Pakistan’s highest civilian awards and the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship.
Maheen Rahman, Chief Executive of Alfalah GHP Investment Management:
Recognized by Bloomberg as ‘Pakistan’s Most Amazing Money Manager’, Maheen Rahman stands as the youngest and the only female CEO of an asset management company. Her appointment in 2015 guaranteed the overseeing of $180 million worth of assets in stocks and bonds, according to Bloomberg.
Following her appointment, Rahman has been able to double the assets since taking charge and has singlehandedly increased Alfalah Investments’ growth by 45% earning her a place in Forbes’ ‘Top 40 under 40’ list of Female Executives.
Sheba Najmi, founder ‘Tech for Change’:
Ms. Najmi launched her own non-profit organization ‘Tech for Change’ to help entrepreneurs, developers and designers combat Pakistan’s civic problems.
She has previously worked as a lead designer for Yahoo Mail and has since then launched a number of initiatives including Pakistan’s first civic ‘Hackathon’ in major cities and the Civic Innovation Labs that provide technology initiatives for women.
She was also a Code for America fellow and has since replicated the design in Pakistan providing fellowship opportunities to rural provinces of the country.
Kalsoom Lakhani, CEO Invest2Innovate (I2I):
Ms. Lakhani launched the startup in 2011 as a platform for training aspiring entrepreneurs in Pakistan. I2I trains entrepreneurs and facilitates them with potential investors in stabilizing their businesses.
Maria Umer, founder, Women’s Digital League:
After being laid off from work for demanding a maternity leave, Maria Umer set out to create her own career in a content creating business.
She used an online forum to generate clients and started connecting writers with potential clients.
She eventually founded ‘The Women’s Digital League’ that uses social media to provide digital solutions to corporate clients.
Saba Gul, CEO Popinjay:
With a Masters degree from MIT in Computer Sciences and Economics, Ms. Gul founded a non-profit organization, Popinjay to help girls from rural backgrounds acquire quality education.
Her organization provides them with linguistic development like English and Urdu along with skill development in Mathematics and entrepreneurial strategies. She has ventured into facilitating them with technical assistance in designing handbags and projects to be marketed to the masses.
Sultana Siddiqui, President, HUM Television Network:
Ms. Siddiqui is the first woman to own her own television network in Pakistan. She started her career in the 70s as a Television Producer for Pakistan Television Network and has since brought on prominent talent for the entertainment industry.
In 1996 she launched her own production house ‘Moomal Productions’ and in 2005 created a Eye Television Network which was later renamed to Hum Television Network in 2011.
Kiran Sadhwani is the first Thari #Hindu #female engineer at #Thar #Coal Project in #Pakistan. #CPEC #Energy
Sadhwani, who belong to the Lohana – a Hindu community – was the first girl in her community to study engineering or even to attend a university. Born into a middle class family in Mithi, she received her primary and intermediate education in her hometown and later went on to study at Mehran University of Engineering Technology.
Apart from her work, Sadhwani loves to volunteer. For the first time in the country’s history, when the Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC) launched its Female Dump Truck Driver Programme near the town of Islamkot in Thar, Sadhwani visited several villages to motivate women to apply for the job and empower themselves. “Not all women who are working as dumper drivers are poor or in dire need of money. It is just that they want to work and earn a living for themselves and improve the lives of their families,” she explained.
Sadhwani loves to play table tennis, read books and listen to music. In the future, she hopes to continue to work for Thar’s prosperity and development.
Out of 25 successful candidates, Sadhwani is the only female working at the site. “When I came for the final interview my father insisted I would have to commute every day as he wouldn’t allow me to live near the site where many other officers and workers live,” she said.
“I wanted to reside at the site so I could visit the mining site easily and learn in the field. I didn’t want to live in my comfort zone by just confining myself to office work so I persuaded my father to allow me to stay there,” she explained.
Sadhwani’s father, who then visited the site and met the officials at the site, allowed his daughter to live there. Now Sadhwani visits her home in Mithi every fortnight. “I was over the moon as I had got the opportunity and a platform to prove myself,” she said. In Tharparkar women are kept in their comfort zones and Kiran wanted to leave hers.
“Just like most parents, my parents also wanted me to study medical as engineering was too difficult a profession for a girl. It was the first challenge I faced but after continued efforts I succeeded in persuading them,” she explained. “I told them it’s not just medical or teaching professions where women can work and excel. It is actually their passion that leads to success,” Sadhwani said.
It is very important to change peoples’ mind-set, which is not an easy job in Thar, not even for the hundreds of non-governmental organisations working in the region.
#Pakistan’s girl cadets in the military dream of taking power. #Women
At a revolutionary school in Pakistan, Durkhanay Banuri dreams of becoming military chief, once a mission impossible for girls in a patriarchal country where the powerful army has a severe problem with gender equity.
Thirteen-year-old Durkhanay, a student at Pakistan’s first ever Girls’ Cadet College, established earlier this year in the deeply conservative northwest, brims with enthusiasm and confidence as she sketches out her life plan.
“I want to be the army chief,” she tells AFP. “Why not? When a woman can be prime minister, foreign minister and governor of the State Bank, she can also be chief of the army staff ... I will make it possible and you will see.”
The dreams of many women in the region were once limited to merely leaving the house.
Durkhanay and her 70 classmates in Mardan, a town in militancy-hit Khyber Pakthunkhwa (KP) province roughly 110 kilometers (70 miles) from Islamabad, are aiming much higher.
Cadet colleges in Pakistan, which are run by the government with officers from the military’s education branch, strive to prepare bright male students for the armed forces and civil services.
Their graduates are usually given preference for selection to the army, which in Pakistan can mean their future is secured: they are likely to be granted land and will benefit from the best resources and training in the country.
As a result such colleges play an outsized role in Pakistan’s education system, which has been woefully underfunded for decades.
According to a 2016 government study, a staggering 24 million Pakistani children are out of school, with a larger share of girls staying home than boys — 12.8 million compared to 11.2 million.
Hundreds of boys study at the cadet colleges across the country.
But girls are still not allowed in these elite schools, with the special college at Mardan the one exception.
“Such colleges can help girls qualify to be part of the armed forces, foreign service, civil services or become engineers and doctors,” said retired Brig. Naureen Satti, underscoring their importance in the long fight for equality by Pakistan’s women.
In starched khaki uniforms and red berets Durkhanay and her classmates march the parade ground, stepping to the beat of a barking drill instructor, before racing to change into physical training and martial arts kits.
The military is widely seen as Pakistan’s most powerful institution, and has ruled the country for roughly half of its 70-year history. Under the current civilian government it is believed to control defense and foreign policy.
Women, however, have largely been shut out — par for the course in a country routinely ranked among the world’s most misogynistic, and where they have fought for their rights for decades.
Previously they were only allowed to serve in administrative posts. But military dictator Pervez Musharraf opened up the combat branches of the army, navy and air force to women beginning in 2003.
The military would not disclose how many of its members, which a 2015 Credit Suisse report said number more than 700,000 active personnel, are currently women.
But a senior security official told AFP on condition of anonymity that at least 4,000 are now believed to be serving in the armed forces.
He gave no further details, and it is unclear how far the women have managed to foray from their administrative past, though some have managed to become high profile role models — including, notably, Ayesha Farooq, who in 2013 became Pakistan’s first ever female fighter pilot.
The Girls’ Cadet College principal, retired brigadier Javid Sarwar, vowed his students would be prepared for whatever they wanted to do, “including the armed forces.”
An Excerpt of Oprah Winfrey's Speech at the Golden Globes
The actor and entrepreneur spoke about the #MeToo movement while accepting the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the 2018 Golden Globes.
it’s not just a story affecting the entertainment industry. It’s one that transcends any culture, geography, race, religion, politics, or workplace. So I want tonight to express gratitude to all the women who have endured years of abuse and assault because they, like my mother, had children to feed and bills to pay and dreams to pursue. They’re the women whose names we’ll never know. They are domestic workers and farm workers. They are working in factories and they work in restaurants and they’re in academia and engineering and medicine and science. They’re part of the world of tech and politics and business. They’re our athletes in the Olympics and they’re our soldiers in the military.
#Pakistan appoints first-ever female diplomat at its embassy in #SaudiArabia
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.
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
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
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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…”
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.
#Pakistan's first woman ambassador to #Iran takes charge in #Tehran
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.
#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
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."
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
#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).
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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.
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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.
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"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.
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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.
Pulitzer prize-winner Nicholas Kristof accused of '#racist #imperialist logic'. It’s easy to imagine #Trump agreeing with some of his ideas about the inherent vice of certain people from certain countries. #xenophobia #misogyny #Islamophobia @alternet https://www.alternet.org/pulitzer-prize-winning-journalist-nicholas-kristof-accused-racist-and-imperialist-logic-ahead-global#.W_9elTvdRkY.twitter
In Feminist Accountability: Disrupting Violence and Transforming Power (December, NYU Press), Ann Russo, associate professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at DePaul University, offers an intersectional analysis that includes chapters on “Disrupting Whiteness,” “Shifting Paradigms to End Violence,” and “Disentangling US Feminism from US Imperialism.”
In the last section, “Resisting the ‘Savior’ Complex,” Russo recalls how Kristof—in his 2009 book, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, written with his wife Sheryl WuDunn—”portray[s] the men from the global south as either inherently brutal and violent, or lazy and irresponsible (both constructions synchronistic with the portrayal of men of color and immigrant men from the global south in the dominant culture of the United States).”
“In many poor countries, the problem is not so much individual thugs and rapists but an entire culture of sexual predation,” Kristof asserts. Kristof and WuDunn describe Ethiopia as “where kidnapping and raping girls is a time-honored tradition” and Congo as the “world capital of rape.”
“No doubt the widespread rape and sexual violence against women in the Congo is horrific,” Russo counters, “but [Kristof and WuDunn] explain it as a cultural problem, rather than a social and political [one].” With this myopic focus, they “obscure the role of the United States in fueling this endemic violence and the ongoing instability of the country and thus avoid any consideration of US accountability. For example, [when they discuss the Congo], Kristof and WuDunn do not tell us that our deep dependence on these mineral resources is, in part, what fuels the ongoing conflicts and violence in the region.”
In his win-a-trip contest announcement, Kristof writes that applicants who “don’t look like” him are “welcome.” That may be so. But a pro forma “welcome” can’t erase the impact of the broad strokes with which he has painted whole swaths of people.
This was a problem in 2009. Now, with Trump in the White House, it’s more important than ever to get rid of the myth of the good white liberal savior for once and for all, and stand in opposition to what Russo describes as Kristof’s “ethnocentrist, racist and imperialist logic.”
Oscar winner filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy's #mobile #cinema is helping #women in #Pakistan learn their rights. Her team selected films that tackle income #inequality, the #environment, ethnic relations, and #religious tolerance. #genderequity https://www.fastcompany.com/90337127/this-mobile-cinema-is-helping-women-in-pakistan-learn-their-rights
In 2016, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy won an Academy Award for her documentary film A Girl in the River: The Price of Freedom. The film told the story of a woman in Obaid-Chinoy’s home country of Pakistan whose father and uncle attempted to kill her after she married someone she chose instead of having an arranged marriage. This is not uncommon in Pakistan; the Human Rights Commission counted 460 such murders–called “honor killings”–in 2017. What’s uncommon is that this woman survived, and was able to tell her story.
When the film was released, it became headline news in Pakistan, and the prime minister invited Obaid-Chinoy to host a screening at his office, which was live-streamed across the country. On the stage at TED2019 in Vancouver, Obaid-Chinoy told the audience that after the film ended, the prime minister said to her, “There is no honor in honor killing.” He told Obaid-Chinoy that he would work to bring an end to the practice, starting with the fact that a loophole in Pakistani law allowed men who attempted murder to avoid jail if they secured forgiveness from the victims. After the woman featured in A Girl in the River left the hospital and began a court proceeding against her father and uncle, she received mounting pressure to forgive them. In the end, she did. For Obaid-Chinoy, that lent a fresh urgency to the film. “When such a strong woman is silenced, what chance did other women have?” she says.
After A Girl in the River won the Academy Award, the prime minister of Pakistan did close the “forgiveness loophole”: Now, men who kill women in the name of honor receive life imprisonment in Pakistan if convicted.
But the day after the legislation passed, Obaid-Chinoy said, a woman was killed in the name of honor, then another, then another. “We had impacted legislation, but it wasn’t enough,” she told the audience. The film had proved effective politically, but, she wondered, could it change culture and put an end to honor killings before they were carried out?
“We needed to take the film to the heartland, to small towns and villages across the country,” Obaid-Chinoy says. She and her team built a mobile cinema on a truck and began driving it to communities in Pakistan where honor killings were most prevalent, where they would host screenings of the film and discuss the changes in the law and how women can advocate for themselves. Sometimes, they faced opposition. One village shut the screening down “because they didn’t want to women to know their rights,” Obaid-Chinoy says. In another village where some men clamored to have the screening stopped, a plainclothes policeman ordered it back on, saying it was his duty to protect the rights of women to know their rights.
Since Obaid-Chinoy’s mobile cinema began rolling in 2017, it has screened A Girl in the River, but “we also began to open up our scope beyond honor killings,” she says. Her team selected films that tackle income inequality, the environment, ethnic relations, and religious tolerance. Often, they would set up separate showings for women of films that feature women as heroes–heads of state or advocates–and encourage them to step into those roles. For groups of men, they show films that feature men as advocates for women and show punishment for those that disparage or harm women.
Obaid-Chinoy recently heard from organizers in Bangladesh and Syria who want to bring the mobile cinema there, and they’ve begun to plan how best to do that. “For me, cinema can play a very positive role in changing and molding society in a positive direction,” Obaid-Chinoy says.
Major General Nigar Johar Khan of the Medical Corps is only the 3rd female to rise to the 2-star general rank in Pakistan Army. She hails from a Pashtun family and is from KPK province.
Major General Nigar Johar Khan has become the third woman in Pakistan's history to hold the rank of a major general in the Pakistan Army, according to Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari.
Mazari shared a picture of Maj Gen Nigar Khan, adding the caption: "Respect. #womenempowerment".
"She is a two-star general in Pak Army’s Medical Corps. Apart from being a doc, she is a sharp shooter too," Qamar explained.
"Pak has shown that, it is committed to gender equality and women empowerment. Gender specific jobs assigned by the ancient patriarchy are now adapting to the realities of 21st century," she added.
#Pakistan to create 1,000 courts to tackle #violence against #women. Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, an independent watchdog, reported at least 845 incidents of sexual violence against women in its 2018 report. #genderequity https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jun/20/pakistan-to-create-1000-courts-to-tackle-violence-against-women?CMP=share_btn_tw
Pakistan is to set up more than 1,000 courts dedicated to tackling violence against women, the country’s top judge has announced, seeking to tackle a problem activists say the criminal justice system has long neglected.
Chief justice Asif Saeed Khosa said the special courts would allow victims to speak out without fear of retaliation in the conservative Muslim country, where domestic violence is often seen as taboo.
Pakistan sees thousands of cases of violence against women every year, from rape and acid attacks to sexual assault, kidnappings and so-called honour killings.
“We are going to have 1,016 gender-based violence courts across Pakistan, at least one such court apiece in every district,” Khosa said in an address to fellow judges broadcast on national television. “The atmosphere of these courts will be different from other courts so that complainants can speak their heart without any fear,” he said.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, an independent watchdog, reported at least 845 incidents of sexual violence against women in its 2018 report.
There were no comparative figures and the commission had previously said violence against women went largely unreported, particularly in rural areas, where poverty and stigma prevented victims from speaking out.
The country was ranked the sixth most dangerous for women in a Thomson Reuters Foundation a survey of global experts last year.
The new courts will operate in existing courthouses, but will hold domestic violence hearings separately from other cases to enable victims to testify in confidence.
A pilot court of this kind was opened in 2017 in Punjab, Pakistan’s most populous province.
Local high court chief justice Mansoor Ali Shah said at the time that women were the most vulnerable members of society and that one in every three had been a victim of physical or psychological violence.
Human rights campaigners said the Lahore court had been a success and welcomed the move to expand the programme.
Romana Bashir, who heads the Peace and Development Foundation, a non-governmental organisation working on women’s rights, said it was “a wonderful safeguarding measure”.
“Certainly women will be encouraged and feel strengthened to speak up against gender based violence. Consequently, women will be able to get justice,” she said.
Fauzia Viqar, a women’s rights campaigner who advised the Punjab government until last month, said studies had shown the performance of such dedicated courts to be “many times better than other courts”.
In Pakistan, it’s middle class rising
S. Akbar Zaidi
he general perception still, and unfortunately, held by many people, foreigners and Pakistanis, is that Pakistan is largely an agricultural, rural economy, where “feudals” dominate the economic, social, and particularly political space. Nothing could be further from this outdated, false framing of Pakistan’s political economy. Perhaps the single most significant consequence of the social and structural transformation under way for the last two decades has been the rise and consolidation of a Pakistani middle class, both rural, but especially, urban.
Data based on social, economic and spatial categories all support this argument. While literacy rates in Pakistan have risen to around 60%, perhaps more important has been the significant rise in girls’ literacy and in their education. Their enrolment at the primary school level, while still less than it is for boys, is rising faster than it is for boys. What is even more surprising is that this pattern is reinforced even for middle level education where, between 2002-03 and 2012-13, there had been an increase by as much as 54% when compared to 26% for that of boys. At the secondary level, again unexpectedly, girls’ participation has increased by 53% over the decade, about the same as it has for boys. While boys outnumber girls in school, girls are catching up. In 2014-15, it was estimated that there were more girls enrolled in Pakistan’s universities than boys — 52% and 48%, respectively. Pakistan’s middle class has realised the significance of girls’ education, even up to the college and university level.
In spatial terms, most social scientists would agree that Pakistan is almost all, or at least predominantly, urban rather than rural, even though such categories are difficult to concretise. Research in Pakistan has revealed that at least 70% of Pakistanis live in urban or urbanising settlements, and not in rural settlements, whatever they are. Using data about access to urban facilities and services such as electricity, education, transport and communication connectivity, this is a low estimate. Moreover, even in so-called “rural” and agricultural settlements, data show that around 60% or more of incomes accrue from non-agricultural sources such as remittances and services. Clearly, whatever the rural is, it is no longer agricultural. Numerous other sets of statistics would enhance the middle class thesis in Pakistan.
Woman follows in footsteps of four sisters, passes CSS exam in Pakistan
ISLAMABAD: In a male-dominated society, there are women who win laurels and make their parents and families proud.
Zoha Malik Sher proved that girls are a blessing not a curse as she made her family proud by passing the Central Superior Service (CSS) written exam, following in the footsteps of her four sisters who had already passed the competitive exam and are currently holding important positions in the bureaucracy.
The Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC) on Thursday announced the results of the written part of the CSS exam.
According to the FPSC, 23,403 candidates applied for the exam out of whom 14,521 appeared and only 372 could clear it with the passing percentage of 2.56.
Rawalpindi-based Zoha was among those who passed the written examination.
Ms Zoha, daughter of a retired Wapda employee, told Dawn: “I am feeling blessed.” She said her father showed that having daughters was not a weakness but strength.
She said since they had no brother, people were very sympathic to her family when she was born.
“But my father never felt bad, rather he converted his weakness (having five girls) into his strength by providing us the best training and education,” she said.
“There should be no discrimination on the basis of gender, colour, caste and creed. These things should not be considered the basis of strength and weakness,” she said, adding that girls could do wonders provided they were given the confidence by their parents.
“We are an example for other girls,” Ms Zoha said.
To a query, she said after passing the second phase (interview) she wants to join the Pakistan Administrative Service (PAS) to serve the country.
Ms Zoha’s sisters Laila passed the CSS exam in 2008, Shireen in 2010, Sassi and Marvi in 2017.
All the five sisters attended primary school at the Presentation Convent High School in Rawalpindi.
Best of 2019: A woman farmer shows the way |The Third Pole
Almas Perween may seem diminutive, but a great deal of responsibility rests on her shoulders. She is a farmer, and a trainer of farmers, a big responsibility for a woman from a village whose name is just a number – Chak #224/EB. Her farm is about 100 kilometres from the historic city of Multan, in the Vehari district of Pakistan’s Punjab province. In many ways Perween epitomises this year’s International Women’s Day’s theme of “Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change”, putting innovation by women and girls, for women and girls, at the heart of efforts to achieve gender equality.
Challenging gender roles
“Why is cotton-picking always a woman’s job?” was the first thing I heard her say. The question carried within it the challenge to traditional gender roles. While Perween is happy to take on the mantle of what is traditionally seen as men’s work, her question took this further, asking why men cannot do what is traditionally done by women.
It has long been said that the soft, fluffy staple fibre of cotton that grows in a boll can only be picked by women’s dainty hands. Perween refused to accept this, claiming it was “just an excuse not to work”.
“It’s literally back-breaking work and takes a heavy health toll on the women,” she said. Drawing from her experience, she added, “village women work longer hours in a day than men”.
Her experience is borne out by research done elsewhere. A 2018 report on the status of rural women in Pakistan said agricultural work has undergone “feminization” employing nearly 7.2 million rural women, and becoming the largest employer of Pakistani women workers. Yet their multidimensional work with “lines between work for economic gain and work as extension of household chores (livestock management) and on the family farm” are blurred and “does not get captured”.
The report pointed out that for women in the agricultural sector (primarily concentrated in dairy and livestock) the “returns to labour are low: only 40% are in paid employment and 60% work as unpaid workers on family farms and enterprises. Their unpaid work is valued (using comparative median wages) at PKR 683 billion (USD 5.5 billion), is 57% of all work done by women, and is 2.6% of GDP of the country.”
Cotton is one of the many crops grown on Perween’s fields. She manages 23 acres of farmland (of which eight acres belong to her mother). With her brother – three years her senior – the family grows maize, wheat, sugarcane and cotton.
Despite the success, it has not always been easy for Perween to take the risks she has. She has been lucky to have the full backing of her family. It is not just her brother’s trust, but also her father’s firm support in the face of criticism from both villagers and the wider family, that has helped her find her own path.
“It has not been easy,” she said, “but it is not impossible either,” Perween says, with a note of triumph in her voice.
RURAL WOMEN IN PAKISTAN S t a t u s Re p o rt 2 0 1 8
Feminization of Agriculture in Pakistan:
Agriculture is the largest employer of Pakistani women workers. The status of rural women with respect to work highlights significant aspects of women’s rights and wellbeing: agricultural work is undergoing feminization; women’s work remains largely unrecognized, unpaid or underpaid; women’s work in agriculture is mostly out of need and often without choice; law, policy and activism need to address the rights and wellbeing of women agricultural workers. The study has mapped out the opportunities and obstacles rural women encounter, linked the findings with Pakistan’s commitments to the SDGs.
Throughout the world, women play a very important role in agricultural sector – on average women in developing countries contribute to 43 per cent of the labour force - and in SouthAsia and Sub-Saharan Africa, agriculture is the single most important employment source for women (FAO, 2011).
The transformation of agriculture in the last few decades has been gendered leading to what has been termed as ‘feminization of agriculture’. National level statistics in developing countries show that there has been an increase in female involvement in agriculture accompanied by a steady decline in men’s participation in the sector (Deere, 2005; de Schutter, 2013; Slavchevska et. al, 2016). There are several factors behind this pattern including male outmigration, increase in commercialization of agriculture, pandemic diseases that disproportionately affect more men (like HIV), conflict, climate change and technological innovations (Slavchevska et. al, 2016).
the feminization of Pakistan’s agricultural workforce was happening due to a number of trends. There has been a general decline in the proportion of men who work in agriculture. First, this is likely to be due to male outmigration to urban areas, as well as men taking up work in the growing off-farm rural economy. Second, the proportion of women who report working in agriculture has been steadily rising. Third, the proportion of women workers in agriculture has declined somewhat in the augmented workforce. These trends suggest that while agriculture is becoming a less important source of livelihood for men and women alike, there is a move of male workers to non-agricultural sectors, while there may be some shift of women agricultural workers from household-based agricultural activities to the labour market.
Women are largely excluded from the ownership and control of land in Pakistan. This exclusion is the result of several policy and social norms, affecting women’s agency in multiple ways. Unequal access and control of property is the most severe form of inequality as it exacerbates other types of inequalities as well. Without secure access to land and means of production, the cycle of deprivation fuels a downward spiral of poverty, and the feminization of rural poverty.
The number of women working outside the home and earning a wage is growing at twice the rate of population growth in Pakistan. That means Pakistani businesses may finally stop ignoring women's basic needs... like comfortable, affordable undergarments.
The data on Pakistani women’s rising economic power is staggering. The female labour force participation rate rose from under 16% in 1998 to a peak of 25% in 2015 before declining slightly once again to 22.8% by 2018. That means there are millions of women who are currently working who might not have been, had labour force participation rates for women stayed the same.
The total number of women in Pakistan’s labour force – earning a wage outside the home – rose from just 8.2 million women in 1998 to an estimated 23.7 million by 2020, according to Profit’s analysis of data from the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics. That represents an average increase of 4.9% per year compared to an average of just a 2.4% per year increase in the total population. In short, the growth in the number of women entering the labour force is more than twice as high as the total rate of population increase.
All of those women now in the workforce have more purchasing power than ever before. Women have always had some measure of purchasing discretion for their households. But now, with their own incomes, they have more ability than ever before to make discretionary purchases for themselves, rather than just making decisions for their households. That includes buying more comfortable undergarments.
Enabling more Pakistani women to work
UZMA QURESH|MAY 07, 2019
There is a broad consensus that no country can progress without the full participation of women in public life .
Most of the positive attributes associated with development – rising productivity, growing personal freedom and mobility, and innovation – require increasing the participation of excluded groups.
Pakistan stands near the bottom of women’s participation in the workforce. This lack of participation is at the root of many of the demographic and economic constraints that Pakistan faces.
It is in that context that the World Bank, in its Pakistan@100 initiative, has identified inclusive growth as one of the key factors to the country’s successful transition to an upper-middle income country by 2047.
Pakistan’s inclusive growth targets require women’s participation in the workforce to rise from a current 26 percent to 45 percent .
Women’s participation rate has almost doubled in 22 years (1992-2014) but the increase isn’t happening fast enough and with much of our population in the youth category, we need to rapidly take measures to address gaps in women’s work status to achieve our goal.
Focus should be on the following priority areas:
Increase access to education, reproductive health services: Half of Pakistani women have not attended school. Presently only 10 percent of women have post-secondary education whereas their chances of working for pay increase three-fold with post-secondary education compared to women with primary education. More educated women are also more likely to get better quality jobs.
Pakistan also couldn’t meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) target of reducing maternal mortality ratio to 150. The government must implement anti early age marriage laws and invest in transforming behaviors of parents and society on such practices. This will allow girls to have more years of education and have better reproductive health outcomes. Fertility decline related behavioral change efforts are also critical in addition to improved service delivery to enable women to have healthier lives and find better economic opportunities .
Unpaid Care Work and informal economy: Women are 10 times more involved in household chores, child and elderly care than men in Pakistan. This leads to women being more time poor and having less time to spend in gaining skills and getting jobs.
Social norms also do not support women’s involvement in economic activity outside their homes and this forces them to either fall back in the informal sector (women are heavily concentrated in it) and rely upon unskilled or low skilled jobs (mostly home-based) or to simply not participate in the wider economy. Adoption and effective implementation of home-based and domestic workers laws can address informal economy issues of extremely low wages and lack of access to social security.
The burden of unpaid care work with high fertility rate is in many ways at the root of all of these problems because more children result in more unpaid care work and it also means that women will be in poorer health conditions especially in lower and middle-income levels rendering them unable to acquire the skills needed for gainful employment opportunities.
While recognizing women’s overwhelming engagement in unpaid care work, private and public sector must contribute to reducing the burden by for example investing in daycare centers and adequate maternity and paternity leaves. As part of a wider behavioral transformation process, men in the family need to start sharing unpaid care work with women.
Safer public spaces: Less than half of women surveyed in a 2013 study reported that they feel safe while walking around in their neighborhoods and such women are also more likely to work than women who do not feel safe. Effective implementation of laws on sexual harassment and violence against women will encourage more women to engage in economic activity outside their homes.
Women Left Behind: India’s Falling Female Labor Participation
India’s female labor force participation is the lowest in South Asia.
While labor force participation is declining globally on average, women’s participation has increased in high-income countries that have instituted gender-focused policies like parental leave, subsidized childcare, and increased job flexibility. On the Global Gender Gap Index by the World Economic Forum (WEF), India has fallen four places from 2018, now ranking 112 of 153 countries, largely due to its economic gender gap. In less than 15 years, India has fallen 39 places on the WEF’s economic gender gap, from 110th in 2006 to 149th in 2020. Among its South Asian neighbors, India now has the lowest female labor force participation, falling behind Pakistan and Afghanistan, which had half of India’s FLFP in 1990.
'Pawri girl': A five-second video brings #India and #Pakistan together. Girl from #Peshawar pokes fun at #Pakistani "burgers": "ye humari pawri hori hai"
A five-second video has done the impossible - brought social media users in India and Pakistan together.
When Pakistani video creator Dananeer Mobin uploaded the video on her Instagram page on 6 February, little did she know that she would become an overnight internet star in both nations.
So you may ask, what's so special about the video? But before we tell you, you must watch the original video:
On the face of it, there is nothing special about it. She says: "This is our car, this is us, and this is our party". The video shows a bunch of young people enjoying themselves.
And that is where the answer lies. When the news has been mostly about death and despair recently, the happy faces in the video cheered people up in the two countries - who are usually at odds on most things because of the decades of sometimes deadly animosity between the two nations.
"What could be better than sharing love across the border at a time when there is so much trouble and so much division around the world," she told BBC Urdu.
"I'm glad my neighbours and I are partying together now because of my video," she says, referring to Indians.
Dananeer Mobin, 19, whose Instagram bio says "call me Geena", is a social media influencer from Pakistan's northern city of Peshawar.
Her posts usually centre around fashion and make-up.
In the viral video, she says the line in her native Urdu "Yeh humari car hai, Yeh hum hain, aur yeh humari pawri ho rahi hai" (you already know the translation!), swinging the camera around as she speaks to the viewer.
She uses the English word for "party" but pronounces it "pawrty".
She explains in text below the video that she's poking fun at "burgers", who come to visit the northern mountainous parts of Pakistan on holiday.
Pakistanis use the term "burger" to describe the rich elites who may have studied or worked outside Pakistan and speak with an American or British-tinged accent. The burger was very expensive when it first came to Pakistan, as opposed to the local version - the humble bun kebab.
"It's not my style to talk like this in burger style…. I did it just to make you all (my Instagram followers) laugh," Dananeer says.
She even says in the post that this is meme-worthy content. And she was clearly right.
Far from being offended, Pakistanis starting recreating the short clip and doing what Pakistani Twitter does best: making memes.
It wasn't long before some high-profile actors and cricketers got involved.
The Pakistan Cricket Board shared a video of the Pakistani national team doing their version of the video after winning a series against South Africa.
It also saw an explosion in popularity across the border after an Indian DJ took her phrase "ye humari pawri hori hai" (we are partying) and turned it into a catchy song.
Yashraj Mukhate, who has taken meme-able videos and turned them into songs before, gave a shout out to the "pawri girl @dananeerr".
World Bank: “28 women for every 100 men participate in the labor force in India and Pakistan”. #GenderEquity #SouthAsia #India #Pakistan https://blogs.worldbank.org/impactevaluations/28
28 women for every 100 men participate in the labor force in India and Pakistan — this compares to 64 women for every 100 men globally, and is the lowest in the world outside the middle east. This dismal statistic highlights a key development challenge: what policies can contribute to achieving gender equity in wages and labor force participation?
The good news is that a recent surge of work in South Asia formally documents the mechanisms underpinning low women’s labor force participation in the region, and proposes policy and interventions that can meaningfully reduce these gaps. There are many excellent reviews of the literature (to cite a few: Fletcher et al. (2017) focus on India, Jayachandran (2019) on social norms and women’s LFP globally, Duflo (2012) on women’s empowerment and economic development more broadly) — this blog simply highlights some of this recent work. The evidence stretches across demand and supply side side explanations, and their interactions in equilibrium.
Mobility constraints A wave of protests in India in 2012, motivated by a brutal sexual assault on a woman commuting to work, highlighted the risks women take when they choose to commute to opportunity. Recent work by Borker (2017) shows that women college students in Delhi are willing to forego admission in higher-ranked schools to as to avoid having to commute along relatively unsafe routes.
Education While interventions to increase safety reduce gender based violence, the potential to correct the attitudes that are the root cause offers enormous hope. Dhar et al (2018) evaluate an intervention at scale targeting attitudes towards restrictive gender norms among lower secondary students. They find large shifts, for both boys and girls, in not only attitudes but also behaviors, suggesting early interventions targeting these attitudes can be effective in shifting norms.
Norms and family While women themselves may want to work, they may face pressures from their family to stay at home. Subramanian (2020) uses a job search platform in urban Pakistan to study how characteristics of jobs affect women’s decisions to apply. She finds that women are much more likely to apply to jobs with female supervisors.
Psychological traps While women are constrained by these norms and attitudes, interventions can effectively support women to overcome these barriers. McKelway (2019) demonstrates that women can find themselves in a “belief trap”: they do not learn they can overcome these barriers because they do not believe that they can.
Husband’s wages and wage gaps Perhaps most surprising about the decrease in women’s labor force participation in India since 1990 is that it occurred during a period of rapid wage growth. Bhargava (2018) shows that married women’s labor supply is more negatively elastic to husbands' wages than it is positively elastic to their own wages
“Gendered” jobs When women’s employment is more accepted in some sectors of the economy, growth in those sectors can generate increases in women’s employment. Heath and Mobarak (2015) study the rapid growth of the garment sector in Bangladesh, which employs 15% of young women nationally.
Role models If social norms shape attitudes, increases in women’s labor force participation or women in positions of authority can shift attitudes, generating positive feedback.
#Pakistan has significantly improves score on the entrepreneurship indicator of #Woman, #Business & #Law (WBL) index, from 50 to 75 points. #WorldBank index covers 8 areas; mobility, workplace, pay, marriage, parenthood, entrepreneurship, assets, & pension https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/802154-pakistan-s-wbl-index-up-25-points
The rise is mainly attributed to reforms introduced by the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), enabling women to register a company effectively and promptly, it added.
In the 2021 report, Pakistan has improved its score on two indicators; entrepreneurship and workplace, resulting in upgrading the overall score to 55.6, from 49.4 in 2020. It has been included in five economies that have introduced reforms to improve entrepreneurship opportunities for women, the report showed.
It is encouraging to note that from March 2020 to March 2021, SECP registered a total of 21,168 companies, of which 5,145 companies have at least one woman director, which accounts for 24.3 percent of the total incorporation during the period. SECP, cognizant of the vital role played by women in economic growth, has introduced several steps to improve gender mainstreaming within the organisation.
The recent measures included an increase in maternity leave from 90 to 180 days, 48 percent representation of women in new hiring, and 23 percent representation in recent promotions.
Pakistani writer-dramatist Haseena Moin of ‘Dhoop Kinarey’ fame dies in Karachi
The women in Moin’s dramas were ambitious career women, a rare sight even in Bollywood those days
Pakistani dramatist Haseena Moin, who was loved both in India and Pakistan for progressive shows such as “Tanhaiyaan” and “Dhoop Kinarey” and also penned the dialogues for Raj Kapoor’s blockbuster “Henna”, died here on Friday. She was 80.
Moin’s nephew Saeed told reporters she was getting ready to leave for Lahore when she had a cardiac arrest and died before she could receive any medical aid.
Moin, who epitomised the shared cultural heritage of the subcontinent with her relatable characters, particularly her strong women protagonists, was born in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, on November 20, 1941.
After Partition, her family moved to Pakistan and lived in Rawalpindi. They then moved to Lahore and eventually settled in Karachi. She completed her post-graduation from Karachi University in 1963.
A recipient of the Pride of Performance award for her extraordinary contribution to the arts in Pakistan, Moin was among Pakistan’s most respected and successful dramatists with a prolific career that stretched beyond Pakistani television to Bollywood, Pakistani movies, and included Indians shows such as “Tanha” as well as “Kash-m-Kash” on Doordarshan.
But it was her career as a drama writer that gave Moin enduring fame as people from both sides of the border lapped up her PTV shows, including “Ankahi”, “Tanhaiyaan”, “Dhoop Kinarey”, “Aahat”, “Uncle Urfi”, “Shehzori”, “Des Pardes” and “Aansoo”.
The women in Moin’s dramas were ambitious career women, a rare sight even in Bollywood those days.
In an interview, Moin, who took a break to fight breast cancer for about four years, said she realised when she came back that the world of Pakistani television had completely changed.
“The atmosphere we had created in 40 years, the kind of woman we brought up, who was bold, independent, could defend herself, was happy and spread happiness, that woman is no longer there,” she told Samina Peerzada, the star of her show “Nazdeekiyan”.
“She is now getting beaten, crying. You just pick up the remote and you will see women crying everywhere. I could not write something like this,” she said in an interview in 2018 that has gone viral on social media after news of her death came in and people flooded platforms with tributes.
She was the one who introduced Zeba Bakhtiar to Raj Kapoor for the movie “Henna”, a cross-border love story also starring Rishi Kapoor that she wrote.
Moin was the first Pakistani writer to write for a Bollywood film. Raj Kapoor wanted her to write the dialogues for his dream project and was keen to cast Pakistani actor Shehnaz Sheikh. After she declined, Moin recommended Bakhtiar as the leading lady.
The film, completed by Randhir Kapoor after Raj Kapoor’s death, was successful but Moin’s name was not mentioned in the credits, following her request due to tensions following the demolition of the Babri Masjid in December 1992.
Moin’s other popular shows include “Mere Dard ko Jo Zuban Milay”, “Kaisa Yeh Junoon”, “Dhundle Raaste” and “Shayad ke Bahar Aaye”.
Moin had started writing from her teenage years, coming up with a weekly column by the title of ‘Bhai Jan’ for a local publication when she was still in school.
She became popular with her plays for Radio Pakistan Karachi’s “Studio Number 9.
Moin became a teacher but her writing career took off when PTV offered her to write a play in 1969 for Eid and she came up with a light-hearted comedy “Happy Eid Mubarak”.
According to Pakistani media reports, Moin was last seen in public at a Pakistan Day event at the Arts Council of Pakistan in Karachi on March 23. A day before that, she visited the Arts Council of Pakistan to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Inspiring Story of "Ustad" Rozina Naz: A homeless #Pakistani #woman who went from living in abandoned bus in #Karachi to painting highway trucks. #art #TruckArt https://www.arabnews.pk/node/1837376#.YGtG12OLX3k.twitter
Rozina Naz, a single mother with two children, paints trucks and buses in a small settlement on the outskirts of Karachi
The truck artist says her profession has brought back color into her life
KARACHI: Two decades ago, an abandoned old bus that stood on top of a mound of scrap was home to Rozina Naz and her two children. Today, she is an accomplished artist, known as Ustad Rozi Khan, who paints buses and trucks in the very same neighborhood on the outskirts of Karachi.
Newly widowed and homeless 19 years ago, Naz had moved her family into the old bus, taking up odd jobs to feed herself and her children. But it was when she began visiting a painter’s shop years later, that she realized buses like her home could be her canvas.
“When my husband died, I had no one by my side and was all alone. I spotted a bus that stood on a heap of scrap and started living there with my two children,” she told Arab News at the Mawach Goth bus stand on Saturday.
Naz kept up with different odd jobs and the routine continued well after she was able to move out of the bus into a real home.
“I didn’t give up,” she said. “I was thinking, this time will pass too. I didn’t want to spread my hands in front of anyone.”
Her life changed when she began visiting a painter’s shop to unwind and read newspapers after a hard day’s work.
“The owner of the shop had two or three students,” she said. “When they left for home, he would put their wages in their hands.”
“I thought, this is a good way to earn a living.”
Naz was good at drawing in school and she put these skills to work painting trucks, a popular form of art decoration native to South Asia which features elaborate florals, calligraphy, landscapes and poetry painted on large cargo trucks in vivid colors.
The trucks, which colorfully dot inter-city highways, are painted almost exclusively by men in Pakistan.
“Many people would say: ‘You’re a woman and this line of work is not meant for you,’” she said.
“But I told them, it’s just another form of work and it has nothing to do with my gender.”
“If someone makes these statements, I don’t pay attention and continue to do my work,” she said. “I only think of my children.”
Now, armed with her paint buckets, Naz goes about her day on a motorcycle she bought on installments.
“My life became colorful when I started painting,” Naz said. “I fell in love with colors.”
“It’s been 19 years since I started using this brush. I still work in this small neighborhood, but I can sketch any design,” she continued proudly.
Levi Jeans' New #Pakistan Store is Run Entirely by #Women. It is 168-year-old #international clothing brand's first owned-and-operated store in Pakistan that’s staffed entirely by women. The store is located in #Lahore. #apparel https://sourcingjournal.com/denim/denim-brands/levis-lahore-pakistan-store-women-retail-workers-286993/ via @SourcingJournal
The opening is a win for Pakistani women, as the Covid-19 pandemic hit vulnerable demographics especially hard and exposed an increasing need to learn alternative work skills. According to Maha Butt, the new store’s manager, Levi’s launch helps open a new line of work for those most affected.
“This is a great initiative that heads in the right direction to break gender-based stereotypes and perspectives,” she said. “It’s great that we can showcase retail as a good and rewarding career option for women.”
One of the world’s largest sources of funding for developing countries, the World Bank Group reported that while women make up 48.5 percent of Pakistan’s population, only about 22 percent are employed. To close that gap, companies throughout the global denim supply chain launched targeted initiatives to support Pakistani women.
In March, Pakistan-based Artistic Milliners launched HERessentials, a pilot program that helps women working within its factories develop social and technical skills needed to respond to environmental and socioeconomic changes. The program is established by the same organizers of HERproject, a skills-building initiative that’s also garnered support from denim heavyweights including Levi’s.
The denim brand noted that it has more work to do to connect Pakistani women with employment opportunities. Currently, the company reports that 14 percent of women make up its Pakistani retail workforce. It aims to increase that number to 25 percent by the end of 2021, and up to 40 percent by the end of 2022. A second women-run store is slated to open in Karachi later this year.
“I am so excited about this amazing store from our team in Pakistan,” said Elizabeth A. Morrison, who joined Levi Strauss as chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer last year. “It builds on and challenges us to advocate for what’s right while capturing our renewed commitment to focusing on ‘our insides’ and our intention to create a company that mirrors our consumers and communities.”
The initiative is part of Levi’s greater commitment to having better representation throughout the company. Last June, it published its first-annual diversity report which showed that women make up 55 percent of the company’s corporate division and 58 percent of its retail segment, but the majority of management positions are fulfilled by men. Males make up 59 percent of leadership positions, which LS&Co. defines as the top 250 leaders in the company. Men fulfill 56 percent of executive management positions and 67 percent of LS&Co.’s board of directors.
#American fried chicken has its origins in #slavery
Col Sanders, a white man, took credit by popularizing #KFC. #Scotsmen brought the chicken to southern #US states and the #African slaves who worked in the kitchens perfected the art of frying. #fastfood https://www.economist.com/1843/2021/07/02/american-fried-chicken-has-its-origins-in-slavery
People serve chimaek in Korea: fried chicken with beer. In Japan you get karaage, nuggets of chicken marinated in soy sauce and garlic before being fried in a coating of wheat flour. Start with a citrus-based marinade and you’re on your way to Guatemalan fried chicken. America’s southern fried chicken is delicious but it is not, objectively, better than any other iteration. Yet it is American fried chicken, that of the American South to be precise, which has taken over the world.
The global reach of southern fried chicken is largely thanks to the efforts of a bearded colonel in a white suit and his secret blend of herbs and spices. But the dish’s history is far older than the self-styled colonel, and more fraught than his bland grin might suggest.
The origins of American fried chicken probably lie somewhere between Scotland and west Africa. The 145,000-odd Scots who made their way to the American South in the 18th century brought with them a tradition of battering and frying chicken. The almost half a million west Africans enslaved in North America brought a knack for frying and braising chicken from their own cuisines. It was these African-Americans, many of whom were forced to work in the kitchens of slave plantations, who perfected the art of frying chicken.
Most preferred beef and pork, and did not regard chicken as a proper meat
In this era chicken was a seasonal dish. Young, tender birds, ready in the spring, were best for frying. The cooking process was laborious. Once a bird was selected, it had to be caught, killed, scalded, plucked, gutted, singed to remove any final feathers and butchered. Only then could it be floured, seasoned and fried.
Two methods of frying chicken developed in America, in Virginia and Maryland. Mary Randolph was a white woman from a slaveholding family in Richmond, Virginia, and author of the first regional American cookbook, “The Virginia House-Wife”. She favoured frying the meat in a deep pot of bubbling lard. Published in 1824, her recipe appears to be the first one printed for southern fried chicken. On the other side of the Potomac river in Maryland, cooks preferred to shallow-fry the bird in a cast-iron skillet covered with a lid, serving it with a white gravy.
Chickens were not highly prized at the time. Colonial landowners rarely bothered to include them in their farm inventories. Most preferred beef and pork, and did not regard chicken as a proper meat. Instead it was considered suitable sustenance for sick men and those with weak constitutions, writes Emelyn Rude in “Tastes like Chicken: A History of America’s Favourite Bird”.
Thus it was that when, in 1741, the Carolinas revised their slave code to make it illegal for slaves to own pigs, cows or horses, chickens were omitted. The rest of the South soon introduced similar laws. Chickens, left to scratch around dung heaps and yards, became increasingly important to slaves, some of whom traded their eggs, feathers and meat.
During the civil war in the 1860s, it became increasingly hard to find enough food for soldiers, especially those on the Confederate side. Chickens became more valuable and their theft more common. Doctors, ministers, German factory workers, Italian chefs and even Mark Twain were accused of such crimes. The only ones prosecuted, however, were black Americans. In 1876 a black woman in Virginia was accused of stealing a chicken. As part of the evidence the mother hen was brought to court to identify her offspring. She convinced the court that she recognised her brood: as a result of the chicken’s testimony, the woman received 39 lashes.
Pakistan's Visually Impaired Young Woman Diplomat Exposes India's Lies at UNGA
Ms. Saima Saleem, Pakistan's young visually-impaired woman diplomat, is currently serving at the country’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Saima graduated from Lahore's Kinnaird College for Women. She won the Quaid-e-Azam Gold Medal for her outstanding academic performance and stood first in the Punjab Public Service Commission examination.
She spoke earlier today at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) 2021 to exercise her country's right of reply to false accusations leveled by Indian diplomat Sneha Dubey.
Saima Saleem rejected Dubey's claim that Jammu and Kashmir is "an integral part of India", and proceeded to describe India's brutal military occupation of the disputed territory. She reminded delegates of multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions to this effect.
Saleem spoke of Indian government's massive human rights violations exposed by the UN Human Rights Commission and other rights organizations. Saleem said Indian leadership is obsessed with Pakistan.
She also shared EU Disinfo Lab's recent disclosure of the scope, scale and duration of India's massive disinformation campaign against Pakistan.
Rejecting India's allegations of terrorism against Pakistan, Saleem said India's arguments are those of an occupier seeking to delegitimize popular resistance as "terrorism".
Here's a video of Saima Saleem's UNGA Speech today:
3 Ways Hunar Ghar Helps Women in Pakistan
Hunar Ghar helps women in Pakistan find confidence in themselves. Professional instructors teach skills such as embroidery, sewing, hairdressing, block printing and bag-making. Women enrolled in Hunar Ghar’s courses receive high-quality training allowing them to master their chosen skills. Learning improves by providing materials such as sewing machines, needles and cloth. All are entirely free for students. After completing their course, the women get an official certification to honor their hard work and achievements. Armed with the certificate, students can feel more confident in themselves and their abilities.
Hunar Ghar guides Pakistani women through the path of starting a business. After students complete their course, Hunar Ghar offers them the chance to sell their handmade products at the organization’s fundraisers and other events. Enrolled women get the opportunity to show their intricate kurtas, block print bags, hand-painted kitchenware and more to a large audience. As a result of more Pakistani consumers viewing their work, the women may begin to make a profit for themselves. Every year, nearly 250 Hunar Ghar course graduates can become entrepreneurs and establish their businesses.
In a First for Pakistan, a Woman Is Cleared to Become a Supreme Court Justice
Justice Ayesha A. Malik’s nomination, intensely opposed by some lawyers that have threatened to strike, was hailed by others as an important victory in improving representation for women.
Pakistan cleared the way for the first woman in the country’s history to become a Supreme Court justice, when a judicial commission on Thursday approved the elevation of Justice Ayesha A. Malik to the top court.
The nomination of Justice Malik, a justice on Lahore’s High Court, was hailed by lawyers and activists who saw it as a rare victory after decades of struggle to secure greater representation and rights for women in Pakistan’s largely conservative and male-dominated society.
“This is historic,” said Aliya Hamza Malik, a member of parliament from the governing Tehreek-e-Insaf bloc. “It is a defining moment for women’s empowerment in the country.”
Her nomination, which was backed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed, will now go to a parliamentary committee, which is expected to confirm her appointment to a 10-year term.
The path to Justice Malik’s nomination was not smooth. She has faced bitter opposition from a large section of the legal community, and some lawyers have threatened to go on strike if she becomes part of the Supreme Court bench.
Last September, the judicial commission rejected Justice Malik’s elevation after four out of its eight members opposed her, citing her lack of seniority. Justice Malik is fourth in seniority on the Lahore High Court, which she joined in 2012.
Despite the opposition, the country’s chief justice continued to support her elevation to the top court, and legal advocacy groups have discounted the argument that lack of seniority is a disqualifying factor for nomination.
“This elevation has come 74 years too late, and we should all celebrate that some change to an all-male bench has finally come,” said Benazir Jatoi, an Islamabad-based lawyer, referring to the creation of an independent Pakistan in 1947.
“Our judicial system is alien to female representation,” Alia Zareen Abbasi, another Islamabad-based lawyer, noted. “Despite years and years of struggle and having very able female judges, none was able to make it to the Supreme Court. Even in high courts, the low, almost negligible percentage of female representation is very alarming.”
Some observers cautioned that one victory for women was far from enough in a country where sexual assault and discrimination remain largely unpunished crimes.
“If women continue to be shackled by patriarchy and regressive interpretations of Islam, we will continue to not progress in terms of developing the human capital required to succeed nationally and globally,” said Zarmeeneh Rahim, an Islamabad-based lawyer.
Still, she said, “to finally see a woman sit on the highest court in the land is a small step forward in that struggle.”
‘For the first time, I felt free’: #Pakistan’s #women-led #livestock market in #Sindh. Rural women have always reared animals but excluded from selling them. A new market is changing attitudes. Hundreds of women to trade animals at Marui livestock market https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2022/jan/20/for-the-first-time-i-felt-free-pakistans-women-led-livestock-market
It is hoped that the market, organised by Tando Allahyar district government and local NGO the Research and Development Foundation (RDF), will encourage more women into the livestock sector. It is part of a six-year Growth for Rural Advancement and Sustainable Progress project to strengthen small-scale agribusinesses and reduce poverty in Sindh and Balochistan provinces, run in partnership with the International Trade Centre and the World Trade Organization.
In rural provinces, women have always reared animals but are excluded from selling them. A new market is changing attitudes
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Zofeen Ebrahim in Tando Allahyar
Thu 20 Jan 2022 02.00 EST
On Saturday, Rozina Ghulam Mustafa arrived at the market in Tando Allahyar city, Pakistan’s Sindh province, to sell the goats she had raised, milked and fed.
Usually her brother sells the animals, but he sold them too cheaply because he didn’t know their true value. “He has always sold our goats at a much lower price,” she says, standing inside an enclosure with 15 of them.
For Mustafa, joining hundreds of women to trade animals at Marui livestock market – believed to be Pakistan’s first women-led livestock market – was a big moment.
By the afternoon, she had yet to sell any animals, but was unperturbed. “That’s OK; it’s my first time and I will learn how to trade,” she says. “For the first time I felt free, I could make the decision of buying and selling myself.”
Women in rural Pakistan have always reared animals, taking care of nutrition, milking and vaccinations and keeping their barns and sheds clean. But when the time comes for them to be sold, women are excluded. Taking the animals to market is considered a man’s job.
Mustafa’s 65-year-old mother, Rehmat, who accompanied her to the market with Mustafa’s brother, says that when she was younger “it was unthinkable for a woman to come to the market and sell; it was a man’s job”.
“I think this change is in the right direction. If women can rear, women can buy and sell, like men. What is so complicated about it?”
The market is busy. Children run between the animal enclosures and stalls selling homemade ghee (clarified butter), eggs, chickens, animal fodder and ornaments. Other stalls sell food, tea and hand-embroidered women’s clothing. The local government has a stall showcasing veterinary medicines.
Perween Panhwar has just bought her first goat for 19,000 PKR (£80) to start her livestock farm. “When I heard there was a women-led livestock market, I wanted the first animal I buy for the farm to be from this market,” she says.
For a long time we have known that improved transport accessibility leads to more opportunities and better lives.
ANDREW DABALENSHOMIK MEHNDIRATTA|JANUARY 24, 2022
Accessibility describes how easy (or difficult) it is for people to reach services and opportunities. When you look at the data, significant accessibility gaps persist around the world. Globally 51% of individuals living in low-income countries reside within an hour of a city compared to 91% of individuals in high-income countries. This limited access to urban centers hinders rural populations from accessing services and opportunities, including healthcare, education, jobs, and markets. Gender plays an important role as well: as these findings from Pakistan illustrate, women typically must cover greater distances to reach basic services. Even for people living in cities, accessibility may vary depending on the availability of public transport, the impact of traffic congestion.
Lack of access is systematically linked to inferior development outcomes, even more so if motorized transport is not available. The inability to travel to healthcare facilities, for instance, has been associated with increased mortality and morbidity from treatable conditions. Conversely, improved access is often synonymous with improved development outcomes. For example, women with access to roads in Pakistan are twice more likely (14% vs 28%) to go to pre-natal consultations. In rural Morocco, girls’ enrollment in primary schools increased from 17% to 54% when their access to roads improved.
Looking particularly at rural roads investments, the construction of a new road can lead to a chain of positive impacts. When a rural community gets connected to the road network, people who could not reach healthcare, schools, or other essential services before are suddenly able to do so. Workers can access more and better jobs. Farmers can sell their products in more distant markets. But these outcomes can only materialize if rural road projects are carefully planned and prioritized. Also, while investments in road networks are often a critical first step toward enhancing accessibility, they should be integrated into a broader investment package targeting social and technological development overall.
However, transforming this knowledge into action had been hard to operationalize. Lack of data regarding the transport network, opportunities, limited computing power to calculate travel times in large areas and lack of consistent framework had made it hard for us to take this academic research into an operational reality. We needed to understand exactly which transport projects will have the highest impact on accessibility? How would this accessibility transform into household welfare? And how do we create tools to inform planning and investment decisions?
To address these questions, the World Bank’s Transport and Poverty and Equity teams jointly developed a new framework that relies on high-resolution mapping and other sophisticated analytical tools to provide a more granular view of how rural road infrastructure can benefit communities.
We are now able to deploy all that knowledge into operational action, by developing an analytical framework that highlights spatial disparities in access to services and opportunities, calculates the expected gains in accessibility from investments into road infrastructure and thereby informs the placement of transport investments throughout the region.
Victory for #Women’s Rights in #Pakistan. New law against #sexualharassment that increases protections for women at #work has passed parliament. It expands on existing legislation from 2010, which had been criticized for being too narrow in scope. #metoo
Pakistan’s Parliament Approves New Workplace Harassment Bill
A new bill that increases protections for women at work has passed Pakistan’s parliament. The bill expands on existing legislation from 2010, which had been criticized for being too narrow in scope. The new law, which was enacted earlier this month, specifically confers protection to students, domestic workers, and employees in informal workplaces. Women’s rights activists have welcomed the amended legislation for addressing multiple forms of harassment and for including language about protecting employees from retaliation. Some actvists have called on Pakistan to ratify the International Labor Organization’s Violence and Harassment Convention (No. 190) as a next step in eliminating gender-based harassment in the workplace.
Pakistan start-up looks to break taboos around menstruation
Many women in the country remain uninformed about periods, but a social media-based project is targeting the problem
Saba Khalid has set herself the goal of breaking some of Islamic Pakistan’s long-held taboos with the help of the internet, smartphones and WhatsApp.
“Technology offers a sense of comfort,” she says of the work of Aurat Raaj, her Pakistani social enterprise. It educates women and adolescent girls about menstruation by means of audio messages sent via the WhatsApp social media platform.
Three years after Khalid, a journalist turned social entrepreneur, launched Aurat Raaj, she believes “there is a change of views coming” among communities in Pakistan’s southern Sindh province, where her service operates.
Though still short of meeting its objective of seeing information on menstruation included in Pakistan’s school textbooks, Aurat Raaj has come a long way, Khalid says.
Rather than treating periods as a matter of shame, she and 30 field workers — so-called menstrual champions — spread their message about periods as a healthcare matter.
Aurat Raaj says it has reached at least 50,000 women through urban and rural campaigns, as well as podcasts and gatherings known as period parties.
Internet coverage in the region is patchy, so recorded messages in the native Sindhi language, rather than live content, are sent to the menstrual champions. These cover topics such as instructions on making sanitary pads with locally available cloth and the sanitisation of pads for reuse.
For Shaiwana Nasir, a menstrual champion based in Sukkur, 350km north-east of the port city of Karachi, making inroads into communities is a gradual process. “It’s a sensitive subject. People became offended when they were first approached,” she says.
The other challenge was the low level of smartphone ownership among women in the roughly 50 villages in Nasir’s area of responsibility. “We had to first convince village elders that this was an essential service. Once we gained acceptability, we were able to enrol local women in our sessions,” she says.
Each menstrual champion sets aside a room, typically in their home, where women gather to hear audio messages and participate in group discussions.
Breaking taboos around menstruation in rural Sindh has been difficult, because of the deeply conservative values many residents hold. Similarly, on matters of sex and birth control, the challenge was evident at a clinic in Karachi, where a doctor saw a woman in her mid-twenties who was in her seventh pregnancy in as many years of marriage to a truck driver.
The couple and their six children live in a two-room slum in Lyari, one of Karachi’s poorest neighbourhoods, where waterborne infections and other ailments are rife. “I told [the patient] that her life will be in danger [if she has more children], but it’s the same reply as I have heard from other patients — the husband doesn’t agree,” the doctor says.
The challenge of discussing sex-related issues is greatest among Pakistan’s uneducated poor — almost one-third of the population lives below the poverty line — but women from middle- and upper-income households also face obstacles in accessing such information. “In many homes, irrespective of their income level, women are under pressure to have more children,” the doctor adds. “The ideal of a two-child home is disregarded because families and husbands insist on large families.”
Khalid, however, remains optimistic. Although the Covid-19 pandemic forced Aurat Raaj to scale back meetings last year, the platform has since returned to its regular schedule, and the number of menstrual champions is set to rise to 100 in Sindh. Khalid is also hoping to expand Aurat Raaj’s services into Punjab province, which is home to some 60 per cent of the country’s population, and to send out its messages in local languages such as Punjabi and Pushto.
A Film About Bringing #Climbing to Girls in #Pakistan.
#Women in a remote #village in Pakistan are introduced to climbing for the first time with a public climbing wall built with more than 500 holds. #rockclimbing #GilgitBaltistan #climbing https://gripped.com/profiles/a-film-about-bringing-climbing-to-girls-in-pakistan/
Climbing for a Reason is a nonprofit co-founded by Luis Birkner and Mateo Barrenengoa which strives to bring rock climbing to underprivileged communities around the world.
In August 2021, Birkner and Barrenengoa visited in Daskoor with famed Italian alpinist Tamara Lunger and Italo-Egyptian climber Wafaa Amer. Over three weeks, they developed the region’s first rock climbing area with 19 new sport routes up to 5.11c and built a public climbing wall with more than 500 holds. They also taught climbing safety practices and donated enough climbing gear to last the community for years. They also helped the locals start a climbing club, the first in the Shigar Valley.
In an early press release about the project stated, “Watching these girls climb for the first time in their lives, watching them play with each other… on their new climbing wall and on their own rocks, and seeing them feel like they were fighting a history of repressed women was priceless.” After her trip, Lunger said, “I leave Daskoor with mixed feelings. I have really grown fond of these girls and they have become almost a little part of me, on the other hand I know, that now they will have to find in themselves the will and the strength to continue and grow what we started.”
In Amer’s Instagram post below, she talks about not having access to climbing. Some of her words below are translated to: “As a child I had a hard time practicing this sport, climbing. I have done it secretly for years because due to my culture I was not allowed to go where I want, when I want, because I’m a woman. I was able to do it only thanks to many people who helped me… Now I too have managed to give to the children of Shigar.”
Climbing for a Reason is an international non-profit project that seeks to teach low-income communities to climb on their local rocks while also jumpstarting climbing-specific tourism and empowering local kids. Bircher said they want “to try to turn local communities into climbers of their own rocks and give them the tools so that in some way they can later develop tourism.”
#Pakistani business tycoon’s son sentenced to death in #Pakistan in high-profile #rape and #murder case. #ZahirJaffar tortured and beheaded Noor Mukadam, in July last year, in case that sparked outrage over #violence against #women. #wealth #misogyny https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2022/feb/24/tycoons-son-sentenced-to-death-in-pakistan-in-and-case
A court in Islamabad has sentenced to death the tycoon’s son who raped and murdered Noor Mukadam, a case that sparked outrage in Pakistan.
Mukadam, 27, the daughter of a former Pakistani diplomat, was held captive, tortured and beheaded in July last year by Zahir Jaffer, a member of a well-known industrialist family.
Jaffer, 30, a Pakistani-American citizen, is thought to have attacked Mukadam after she refused his marriage proposal. Two household employees of Jaffer, a guard and a gardener, were both sentenced to 10 years for abetting the murder. The court heard they had blocked the young woman’s attempts to leave the luxury mansion. Jaffer’s parents, who had faced charges in connection with covering up the killing, were acquitted by the court.
After a lengthy trial that began in October, Judge Ata Rabbani on Thursday sentenced Jaffer to be hanged.
Shaukat Ali Mukadam, Noor’s father, said the verdict was a “victory for justice” and thanked the media for keeping the matter alive.
“Today, an exemplary punishment has been given to the main accused. Today, my daughter’s soul will be content to some extent. We are happy as far as the principal accused is concerned,” he told reporters outside the courtroom.
Prosecution lawyer Shah Khawar said: “Justice has been served, and today’s verdict will empower Pakistani women at large. We will challenge the acquittal of his parents at the higher court.”
The murder, and the efforts to protect the wealthy killer, had caused outrage in Pakistan where, despite high rates of brutal violence against women, there are low conviction rates, with most perpetrators going uncharged.
According to AGHS Legal Aid Cell, a rights group providing free legal representation for marginalised groups in Pakistan, the conviction rate for cases of violence against women is less than 3%.
Rights groups hailed the verdict and called for the higher courts to maintain the decision in the face of any appeal.
A woman places a candle beside a poster of Noor Mukadam
Pakistan reckons with its ‘gender terrorism epidemic’ after murder of Noor Mukadam
“Justice has been served today. We demand the higher courts will maintain the sentence and dismiss Jaffer’s appeal,” said Farzana Bari, a women’s rights activist.
A recent report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) said: “Violence against women and girls – including rape, murder, acid attacks, domestic violence, and forced marriage – is endemic throughout Pakistan. Human rights defenders estimate that roughly 1,000 women are killed in so-called ‘honour’ killings every year.”
Jaffer, who can appeal against the verdict, was thrown out of the court several times during his trial for his behaviour, and his lawyers frequently carried him to proceedings in a wheelchair or stretcher to show he was not “mentally sound”.
The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), the country’s central bank and top #banking regulator, has directed all banks to employ at least 20% of #women in the workforce by 2023. #internationalwomensday #gender #finance
- Newspaper - DAWN.COM
KARACHI: The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has directed banks to employ at least 20 per cent of women in the workforce by 2023.
Gender diversity is a must for economic development and inclusion of women in the financial system, State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Governor Dr Reza Baqir said on Monday at the launch ceremony of Asaan Digital Account (ADA).
The SBP in collaboration with Bank Alfalah, Standard Chartered Bank and UBL, hosted an event titled ‘Asaan Digital Account: Breaking Barriers’ on the eve of International Women’s Day.
Dr Baqir said that through Roshan Digital Account, the country has received about $3.5 billion during one and half years which is more than the foreign direct investment and the loans given by the International Monetary Fund.
Dr Baqir expressed confidence that ADA will break the barriers in financial inclusion of women by offering faster, cheaper, efficient and convenient solutions for meeting their requirements.
ADA is a digitised solution for opening a full-service bank account from anywhere, at any time, through smartphones or computers with only a CNIC and no other documentation requirements.
The governor lauded the contributions of women in various fields and stressed that women’s empowerment is the key to socio-economic developments in the country. He said that gender gaps do not allow women the same freedom to avail themselves opportunities, rights and obligations in all walks of life as compared to men. However, International Women’s Day encourages us to pause and reflect on the systemic barriers that limit women in their pursuits. He stressed the need to reflect and renew the sense of ambition, and transformative possibility around gender equality in the financial services space.
#Pakistan’s Bismah Maroof radiates the power to inspire change in #cricket. Pakistan’s captain is back playing in the #Women’s World Cup, having brought her 6-month-old daughter Fatima with her. #ICCWomensWorldCup2022 #NewZealand #InternationalWomensDay https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2022/mar/09/the-spin-cricket-pakistan-bismah-maroof-motherhood
It is more than 33 years ago since Neneh Cherry swaggered around the Top of the Pops stage in big white trainers performing Buffalo Stance with the fierce energy of a woman who was having a fine old time and wanted everyone to know about it. Around her neck hung a huge medallion and she wore a golden bustier and matching jacket. But it wasn’t her outfit that was the talking point at secondary school the next day – but the seven-month pregnancy bump that stuck proudly out of her Lycra miniskirt as she lip-synched along.
It was the first time many of us had seen a pregnant woman being, well, visible and certainly the only time we’d seen one looking so sensationally cool. Allegedly, a journalist was daft enough to check with Cherry that it was safe for her to go on stage in her state of pregnancy, to which she sighed: “It’s not an illness.”
It was footage of the Pakistan captain, Bismah Maroof, holding her six-month-old daughter Fatima at the Women’s World Cup in New Zealand that instantly brought back memories of that Thursday night watching Cherry. Although Maroof was dressed in her pine-green Pakistan tracksuit and had her hair pulled back in a sportswoman’s ponytail, she radiated the same power to inspire change.
Seeing female cricketers with their children is not unknown, and there are eight mothers playing in the current World Cup – Maroof, the New Zealand captain, Amy Satterthwaite, and her wife, Lea Tahuhu, West Indies’ Afy Fletcher, Australia’s Megan Schutt and Rachael Haynes, and Lizelle Lee and Masabata Klaas of South Africa – but it is practically unheard of on the subcontinent, where marriage and/or childbirth is usually the end for a cricketing career.
A fantastic article by Annesha Ghosh in The Cricket Monthly, looking at motherhood and cricket, summarises that only three of the 81 female cricketers contracted by India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are married. Maroof, then, is an outlier, not only leading her country but showing that motherhood does not have to spell the end to sporting ambition.
Maroof tells Ghosh that even during her own career, some of her teammates have had to give up the game: “Batool [Fatima], Nain [Abidi], Asmavia [Iqbal], Qanita [Jalil] and several others – they were all Pakistan teammates of mine who either couldn’t resume cricket for a long time after marriage or had to leave it altogether for good.”
However, the increased professionalism of the game over the past few years, and Maroof’s own pregnancy, nudged the Pakistan Cricket Board, during Wasim Khan’s spell as chief executive, into a maternity leave policy. This gives women a year’s paid leave (and men a month) plus shared costs of a support person to help with childcare – in this case Maroof’s mother, who has been seen cuddling Fatima in the stands.
Pakistan women fight gender norms to build online health business
by Zofeen T. Ebrahim |
Growing number of Pakistani women jump into health tech
Women founders face multiple barriers in conservative Pakistan
Mental health care not considered legitimate
Pakistan, April 28 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - After surviving a car crash that left her hospital-bound and unable to walk for months, Saira Siddique embarked on a mission: making health care accessible to Pakistanis.
The 45-year-old left her high-profile job in government health to pitch her app linking doctors and patients by video to investors.
Months later, with COVID-19 hurting businesses across Pakistan, Siddique's firm, MedIQ, burst on to the scene as the country's first "virtual hospital".
"(The pandemic) really gave a boost to my company," said Siddique.
With face-to-face doctors' appointments restricted due to contagion risks, Siddique's company, connecting patients across Pakistan with doctors and pharmacies, was suddenly in demand.
MedIQ served 16,000 patients in its first six months. Almost two years on, the number has increased by nearly 20 times.
Siddique is one of a growing number of women in Pakistan who are defying conservative gender norms by jumping into the health tech industry.
"Running a startup business is like riding a bull," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone from the capital Islamabad.
"You never know which way or how hard it's going to buck."
Siddique's company raised $1.8 million in an early stage of financing last week after receiving mentoring in the World Bank-backed WeRaise programme, which helps women-led ventures in Pakistan raise capital.
Others are blazing a similar path.
Two entrepreneurs in Karachi wanted to use the untapped potential of tens of thousands of so-called "doctor brides" - women doctors who quit their medical practise after marriage in a country where millions have no access to medical care.
Iffat Zafar Aga and Sara Saeed Khurram's platform allows female medics to provide e-consultations from their homes to patients in mostly rural communities.
In the country of some 210 million the doctor-patient ratio stands at just a little over one for every 1,000 patients, according to the World Bank.
Countries such as the United States, Japan and Brazil have more than two doctors for every 1,000 patients, while Britain has nearly four.
The pair has set up dozens of 'e-health clinics' in low-income communities where, for as little as 80 rupees ($0.43), a patient visits a nurse who uses the online platform to reach a doctor.
Khurram said they provided free consultations during COVID-19 after the government sought their help - a task made possible by their team of 7,000 doctors, many of whom are former doctor brides.
The phenomenon of doctor brides remains pervasive with many families encouraging their daughters to study medicine not for a career, but to bolster marriage prospects.
More than 70% of the country's doctors are women, but only half will ever practise, according to the Pakistan Medical Commission.
From domestic violence to anxiety over job losses and grief of losing family members to Covid-19, requests for virtual appointments on ReliveNow, an online mental health care platform, surged during lockdowns.
Amna Asif, its founder and CEO, said most of the clients were women, including single mothers, struggling to juggle children while working from home.
"This put us on the radar, and helped increase our sales," said Asif by phone.
Founded in 2018, ReliveNow has clients - 80% of whom are women - in dozens of countries including Pakistan, Britain, Canada and Australia.
But the road to success for firms like MediIQ and Sehat Kahani has been paved with misogyny, stereotypes and discouragement.
Hira Mohibullah has moved to the North American market, becoming executive creative director at VMLY&R based in Kansas City. She formerly served as ECD at BBDO Pakistan. Mohibullah now joins the senior ranks of VMLY&R’s U.S. creative team and report to John Godsey, chief creative officer, North America.
Mohibullah spent six years moving up the ladder to ECD at BBDO Pakistan where she worked on such accounts as Unilever, 7UP, Frito-Lay and UNWomen Pakistan. In her time at BBDO, Mohibullah’s leadership was instrumental in elevating the agency’s reputation into worldwide circles. Mohibullah has won over 215 international awards, including Cannes Lions, D&AD and Clio honors, receiving international acclaim for campaigns that have driven social progress such as changing legislation around child marriages, reducing child-burn incidents by 50% and supporting the reunion of missing children with their families.
“With her award-winning creative talent, wide-ranging experience, as well as strong design thinking, I am confident Hira will deliver exceptional approaches and solutions for our clients and continue to push creative momentum for the agency,” said Godsey.
Mohibullah is celebrated for her advocacy of gender balance in the workplace. She has leveraged the power of advertising to impact positive social change in Pakistan, with a special focus on women’s empowerment. A mother of two, she has helped set up a daycare at two of her previous workplaces, enabling more mothers to join and remain in the workforce.
“VMLY&R boasts of a phenomenal body of work that’s powered by human connection and I’m absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity to drive that vision forward,” Mohibullah said.
Over her 12-year career, Mohibullah has also worked at agencies including Ogilvy and Leo Burnett and brings 10-year beverage experience on brands including Coca-Cola and PepsiCo.
Additional accolades include Cannes Lions See It Be It alumnus, Creative LIAisons mentor and TEDx speaker. She has also served on juries for such competitions as Cannes Lions, D&AD, Clio, New York Festivals, Young Guns and ADSTARS.
Pakistan’s generational shift
By Dr Ayesha RazzaqueMay 22, 2022
Last year saw the publication of ‘Womansplaining – Navigating Activism, Politics and Modernity in Pakistan,’ a book edited by Federal Minister Sherry Rehman to which I was able to contribute a chapter. It connected education with women’s rights and argued that indigenous movements like the Aurat March should focus on education as a core part of their agenda.
Detractors of Pakistan’s women’s rights movement have been taking potshots at it by claiming that the issues it raises are not the issues of ‘real’ (read: rural) women. Put aside for a minute the fact that Pakistan’s rural population now accounts for 62 per cent, down from 72 per cent in 1980, and is on a steady decline. While the numbers may differ, and women’s power to negotiate may differ, rural and urban women share basic challenges and better education can yield similar opportunities and improvements in life circumstances.
Indigenous progressive and women’s rights movements have adopted the cause of education as an agenda item but should make it front and center, specifically K-12 education for girls in rural areas. New data further substantiates that connection with numbers. Education up to the higher secondary level, just the education that rural schools offer today, is the enabler that brings increased women’s labour force participation, delayed first marriage, lower rates of consanguinity, increased income, increased spousal income, and is a contributing factor to greater freedom of movement and communication – all positives.
Studies exploring the relationships between levels of education and life circumstances around the world are plentiful and capture the situation at a point and place in time. The Learning and Educational Achievements in Pakistan Schools (LEAPS) programme is qualitatively different because it already spans a period of almost two decades. The LEAPS programme has been tracking lower- and middle-income households in 120 randomly selected villages across three districts in rural Punjab since 2003. It has been revisiting them since then, most recently for the sixth time in 2018, roughly once every three years. That makes it one of the largest and longest panels of households in lower- and middle-income countries. This study is also unique as it looks at return on investment in education beyond an individual’s income and looks into the possible spillover into life circumstances and quality-of-life which is especially interesting for those interested in women empowerment and feminist movements.
In this latest round it surveyed 2006 women now aged 20-30. All these women were from the same 120 birth villages and have been tracked to their marital homes within or outside the village if they have married, migrated or moved for any other reason. Preliminary descriptive results of the long-running LEAPS study tell interesting stories. The headline finding of LEAPS investigators is that Pakistan is in the midst of a ‘generational shift’ where, for the first time in its education history, we have a ‘critical mass of moderately educated women’.
In this generation only 18.7 per cent of rural women are without an education, down from 75.5 per cent from their mothers’ generation. Nearly 50 per cent have an education ranging from a primary to secondary education, up from just 20 per cent in the previous generation. A stunning 22.9 per cent have a higher secondary or above education, up from an almost nothing 0.3 per cent in their previous generation.
Existing plans, at least in the domain of education, remain unguided by some of the very excellent evidence that is available. Meanwhile, the Planning Commission is organizing a ‘Turnaround Pakistan’ conference perhaps as early as May 28 to conduct national consultations. Whether a hurriedly thrown together conference can change the way business is done remains to be seen.
So, in 2020-21 for every hundred rupees that employed men earn, women earn around eighty-one rupees. This is up from women earning seventy rupees for every hundred rupees that men earned in 2018-19. (Labor Force Survey 2020-21)
Using ILO’s framework, the gender pay gap in agriculture in Pakistan is still very high—36.24 percent. The good news is that this is lower than 2018, when the gender pay gap was 40.69 percent. To put another way, in 2020-21, for every hundred rupees that men employed in the agriculture sector earn, women earn around sixty-three rupees only. This is up from women earning fifty-nine rupees for every hundred rupees that men in the agriculture sector earned in 2018-19. Again, while the gender pay gap is atrociously high, over the period of analysis it has declined and that is an absolutely positive achievement. The overall gender wage gap has almost halved over the period of analysis. So, in 2020-21 for every hundred rupees that employed men earn, women earn around eighty-one rupees. This is up from women earning seventy rupees for every hundred rupees that men earned in 2018-19.
This report paints a rosy picture of the labour force in Pakistan. But some macroeconomic issues continue to manifest. Low LFPR among the youth, urban unemployment which exerts additional pressure on the cities, gender pay gaps and disproportionate size of the informal economy. Moving forward, serious attention has to be paid on generating meaningful employment across the country, specifically in KP which has the highest rate of unemployment.
LEAPS is a youth-led ECCE program that trains female youth, 18–24 years, as Community Youth Leaders (CYLs) to deliver high-quality ECCE for children, 3.5–5.5 years, in rural Sindh, Pakistan.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) highlight the importance of investments in early childhood care and education (ECCE) and youth development. Given Pakistan’s large young population, and gender and urban-rural inequalities in access to education, training, and employment, such investments offer opportunities. LEAPS is a youth-led ECCE program that trains female youth, 18–24 years, as Community Youth Leaders (CYLs) to deliver high-quality ECCE for children, 3.5–5.5 years, in rural Sindh, Pakistan.
The results showed significant improvements in children’s school readiness as assessed by the International Development and Early Learning Assessment (IDELA; ) (Cohen’s d = 0.3) . A qualitative analysis of CYL exit interviews also indicated improved professional and personal development benefits for female youth leaders including aspirations for education and career, mental health benefits, and higher self-confidence [32, 33].
Pakistan Labor Force Survey 2020-21
Refined Activity (Participation) Rate (%)
Pakistan Total 44.9 Male 67.9 Female 21.4
Rural 48.6 Male 69.1 Female 28.0
Urban Male 65.9 Female 10.0
90% of Women in India Are Shut Out of the Workforce
A small fraction of women in India had formal employment before the pandemic. Covid made it so much worse.
By Ronojoy Mazumdar and Archana Chaudhary
June 1, 2022, 5:01 PM PDT
For years, Sanchuri Bhuniya fought her parents' pleas to settle down. She wanted to travel and earn money — not become a housewife.
So in 2019, Bhuniya snuck out of her isolated village in eastern India. She took a train hundreds of miles south to the city of Bengaluru and found work in a garment factory earning $120 a month. The job liberated her. "I ran away," she said. "That's the only way I was able to go."
That life of financial freedom ended abruptly with the arrival of Covid-19. In 2020, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared a nationwide lockdown to curb infections, shutting almost all businesses. Within a few weeks, more than 100 million Indians lost their jobs, including Bhuniya, who was forced to return to her village and never found another stable employer.
As the world climbs out of the pandemic, economists warn of a troubling data point: Failing to restore jobs for women — who have been less likely than men to return to the workforce — could shave trillions of dollars off global economic growth. The forecast is particularly bleak in developing countries like India, where female labor force participation fell so steeply that it's now in the same league as war-torn Yemen.
This week's episode of The Pay Check podcast explores how the coronavirus accelerated an already worrying trend in the world's second-most populous country. Between 2010 and 2020, the number of working women in India dropped from 26% to 19%, according to data compiled by the World Bank. As infections surged, a bad situation turned dire: Economists in Mumbai estimate that female employment plummeted to 9% by 2022.
This is disastrous news for India's economy, which had started slowing before the pandemic. Modi has prioritized job creation, pressing the country to strive for amrit kaal, a golden era of growth. But his administration has made little progress in improving prospects for working women. That's especially true in rural areas, where more than two-thirds of India's 1.3 billion people live, conservative mores reign and jobs have been evaporating for years. Despite the nation's rapid economic expansion, women have struggled to make the transition to working in urban centers.
Closing the employment gap between men and women — a whopping 58 percentage points — could expand India's GDP by close to a third by 2050. That equates to nearly $6 trillion in constant US dollar terms, according to a recent analysis from Bloomberg Economics. Doing nothing threatens to derail the country on its quest to become a competitive producer for global markets. Though women in India represent 48% of the population, they contribute only around 17% of GDP compared to 40% in China.
India is an extreme illustration of a global phenomenon. Across the world, women were more likely than men to lose jobs during the pandemic, and their recovery has been slower. Policy changes that address gender disparities and boost the number of working women — improved access to education, child care, or flexible work arrangements, for example — would help add about $20 trillion to global GDP by 2050, according to Bloomberg Economics.
For workers like Bhuniya, 23, the pandemic had heavy consequences. After losing her job, she struggled to afford food in Bengaluru and eventually returned to her remote village, Patrapali, in the state of Odisha. Bhuniya doesn't think she'll have another opportunity to leave. She no longer earns a steady income, but her family worries about her safety as a single woman living in a distant city.
"If I run away again, my mother will curse me," said Bhuniya. "Now, there's nothing left. My account is empty and there's little work in the village."
The story echoes across India. During the pandemic, Rosa Abraham, an economics professor at Azim Premji University in Bengaluru, tracked more than 20,000 people as they navigated the labor market. She found that after the first lockdown, women were several times more likely to lose their jobs than men and far less likely to recover work after restrictions lifted.
Pandemic Impact on Employment
How India's Covid lockdowns affected employment for men and women
Increased domestic duties, lack of childcare options after school shutdowns, and a surge in marriages — which often confine women's autonomy in India — help explain the difference in outcome.
"When men are faced with this kind of a huge economic shock, then they have a fallback option," Abraham said. "They can navigate to different kinds of work. But for women, there is no such fallback option. They can't negotiate the labor market as effectively as men do."
Dreams of freedom or a well-paid office job were replaced with what she called "distress-led employment," essentially unpaid work on a family farm or taking care of the home. Prior to the pandemic, Indian women already performed about 10 times more care work than men, around three times the global average.
"It is the unfortunate situation that the decision to work is often not in the hands of the woman herself," Abraham said.
The decline in workforce participation is partly about culture. As Indians became wealthier, families that could afford to keep women at home did so, thinking it conferred social status. On the other extreme, those at the lowest rungs of society are still seen as potential earners. But they tend to work menial or unpaid jobs far from the formal economy. In the official statistics, their labor is not counted.
In many villages, patriarchal values remain ironclad, and a stigma against girls persists. Though illegal, sex-selective abortions are still common. Akhina Hansraj, senior program manager at Akshara Centre, a Mumbai-based organization that advocates for gender equity, said Indian men often think "it's not very manly if their wife contributes to the family income."
"They want to create this dependency," Hansraj said. "People believe if women get educated, they might work and become financially independent and then they may not obey and respect the family."
Marriage is a sticking point in India, where most weddings are still arranged. After the first lockdown, in 2020, the country's leading matrimony websites reported a spike in new registrations. In some states, marriages among children and young adults — many of them illegal under Indian law — jumped by 80%, according to government data.
Madhu Sharma, a Hindi teacher at the Pardada Pardadi Educational Society, a girls' school in the northern town of Anupshahr, said she might intervene in three child marriages a year. During the pandemic, when the campus closed, the number increased three to four times.
"Before Covid, children were always in touch with their teachers and also with me," she said. "After Covid, when the children had to stay at home, keeping in contact with them became a big challenge."
Financial considerations often tipped the scales in favor of marriage. Social distancing and warnings against large gatherings meant parents could hold small, less-expensive ceremonies at home, rather than the multi-day celebrations that are common even in the poorest pockets of society. During the direst stretches of the pandemic, some families married off daughters because they couldn't afford to feed another mouth.
For Sharma's students, getting married before finishing school can change the trajectory of their lives. In India, when a woman marries, she typically moves in with her husband and in-laws. That can make it difficult to leave secluded villages where policing of choices is common and employment opportunities are scarce.
"We try to educate our students," Sharma said. "We explain to them that if they study, they will be in a good spot. If they don't, we describe what their position will be like. 'The rest is up to you,' we tell them. You live life the way you want to create it."
In 2015, Modi started a campaign called "Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao," which roughly means "Save Our Daughters, Teach Our Daughters." It's an initiative aimed at keeping girls in school and reducing sex-selective abortion. The government has also tried to eradicate child marriage. Last year, Modi's administration passed a proposal to raise the legal marriage age for women from 18 to 21, which is what it is for men.
But in many villages, national laws are distant abstractions. Local customs are still set and enforced by local panchayats, essentially a group of elders, almost all men. And while Modi's campaign to educate India's daughters received lots of publicity, recent government audits found that much of the initiative's funds remained unspent.
Even in urban metropolises, where literacy rates are far higher and jobs are more abundant, the pressure on women is overwhelming.
Anjali Gupta, who lives in Mumbai, said she was barely hanging on. First, the coronavirus lockdowns devastated her family's small grocery store, forcing them to exhaust their savings to survive. Then her parents started pushing Gupta and her three sisters to get married, fearing that they would be left destitute without husbands.
Gupta tried to reason with them. She had already spent about $1,300 studying for a master's degree in pharmaceuticals and nutrition. She was training with a homeopathic doctor. She wanted a career. "I explained that my situation is different, my generation is different," Gupta said.
But after an uncle died from the coronavirus, Gupta's father pleaded with her to drop out of school, a prospect that induced migraines and endless arguments. Her parents started bringing prospective grooms home. Gupta worries the inertia will eventually overpower her.
"It shouldn't be this way," she said. "I want to do and learn more. I'm only 22."
Pakistan's female labor participation rate of 21.4% (LFS 20290-21) is higher than India's 16.1% (Reuters report)
Pakistan Labor Force Survey 2020-21
Refined Activity (Participation) Rate (%)
Pakistan Total 44.9 Male 67.9 Female 21.4
Rural 48.6 Male 69.1 Female 28.0
Urban Male 65.9 Female 10.0
India's female labour participation rate falls to 16.1% as pandemic hits jobs
According to World Bank estimates, India has one of the lowest female labour force participation rates in the world. Less than a third of women – defined in the report as 15 or older – are working or actively looking for a job.
The female labour participation rate in India had fallen to 20.3% in 2019 from more than 26% in 2005, according to World Bank estimates, compared with 30.5% in neighbouring Bangladesh and 33.7% in Sri Lanka.
Indian media on World Bank Report Reshaping Norms: A New Way Forward 2022
Does development mean more women in work? Yes in Pakistan but not India, says World Bank study
In India, women's participation in workforce fell after per capita income passed $3,500, says study published in World Bank's South Asia Economic Focus. Experts cite 'patrilineal trap'.
New Delhi: It’s generally assumed that economic development and women’s participation in the labour force go hand in hand. However, a World Bank study has found that the relationship is more complex in South Asia — particularly in India — than previously thought.
Published in April this year in the World Bank’s South Asia Economic Focus, Spring 2022, the study, titled ‘Reshaping Norms: a New Way Forward’, found that economic development corresponded with a rise in women’s participation in the workforce in some South Asian countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh, but only up to a point in India.
The study took into consideration Gross Domestic Product (GDP) based on purchasing power parity (PPP) from 1985 to 2019. PPP is the rate at which one country’s currency would have to be converted into another’s to buy the same amount of goods and services.
It found that female labour force participation (FLFP) — the percentage of women currently employed or unemployed actively looking for work — varies from country to country in South Asia. The study also found that in India, FLFP fell after per capita income surpassed $3,500.
The South Asian countries included in this particular analysis of the study were India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan, and the Maldives.
The study claims that when a country is largely agrarian, women’s participation in agriculture and allied activities is higher. However, as a country industrialises and as the need to have more working hands go down, this participation declines, largely due to societal biases against women working in manufacturing units.
The curve rises again at higher-income levels as a result of growth in the service sector coupled with higher education levels among women and a lower fertility rate (that is, the number of children born alive to women of that age during the year as a proportion of the average annual population of women of the same age).
The study, however, shows that the growth trajectory isn’t uniform across South Asian countries. For instance, in Sri Lanka and Nepal, the FLFP has barely changed despite economic development. In Bangladesh, Bhutan, Pakistan, and the Maldives, a rise in per capita income corresponds with a rise in FLFP. India, too, saw a similar corresponding rise but only until it reached a per capita income of $3,500, the study shows.
According to the World Bank’s estimates, Bangladesh had an FLFP of 35 per cent, Pakistan 21 per cent and India 19 per cent in 2021.
Evans told ThePrint that although both Bangladesh and Pakistan have low female employment, “an additional constraint in India may be labour regulation, which suppresses job-creation in the formal economy”.
“It traps families in precarity, reinforces reliance on kinship, and encourages jati-endogamy (the custom of marrying within one’s caste),” she told ThePrint via email. “Moreover, employers frequently subcontract to home-based workers in order to artificially reduce the size of their firm and circumvent labour regulations. This kind of informal ‘gig’ work keeps many women trapped by family surveillance and control.”
Pakistani UN envoy Dr. Nafis Sadik, a champion of women's health and rights around the world, dies at 92
Born in Jaunpur in British-ruled India, Nafis Sadik was the daughter of Iffat Ara and Muhammad Shoaib, a former Pakistani finance minister. After receiving her medical degree from Dow Medical College in Karachi, she began her career working in women's and children's wards in Pakistani armed forces hospitals from 1954 to 1963. The following year she was appointed head of the health section of the government Planning Commission.
Nafis Sadik, a Pakistani doctor who championed women's health and rights and spearheaded the breakthrough action plan adopted by 179 countries at the 1994 U.N. population conference, died five days before her 93rd birthday, her son said late Monday.
Omar Sadik said his mother died of natural causes at her home in New York on Sunday night.
Nafis Sadik joined the U.N. Population Fund in 1971, became its assistant executive director in 1977, and was appointed executive director in 1987 by then Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar after the sudden death of its chief, Rafael Salas. She was the first woman to head a major United Nations program that is voluntarily funded.
In June 1990, Perez de Cuellar appointed Sadik to be secretary-general of the fifth U.N. International Conference on Population and Development in 1994, and she became the architect of its groundbreaking program of action which recognized for the first time that women have the right to control their reproductive and sexual health and to choose whether to become pregnant.
The Cairo conference also reached consensus on a series of goals including universal primary education in all countries by 2015 — a goal that still hasn't been met — and wider access for women to secondary and higher education. It also set goals to reduce infant and child mortality and maternal mortality and to provide access to reproductive and sexual health services, including family planning.
While the conference broke a taboo on discussing sexuality, it stopped short of recognizing that women have the right to control decisions about when they have sex and when they get married.
Natalia Kanem, current executive director of the U.N. Population Fund, called Sadik a "proud champion of choice and tireless advocate for women's health, rights and empowerment."
"Her bold vision and leadership in Cairo set the world on an ambitious path," a journey that she said continued at the 1995 U.N. women's conference in Beijing and with adoption of U.N. development goals since 2000 that include achieving gender equality and many issues in the Cairo program of action.
Since Cairo, Kanem said, "millions of girls and young women have grown up knowing that their bodies belong to them, and that their futures are there to shape."
A serial entrepreneur Tanweer Ahmed and his devotion to make lives better
The diversity of this world is great, and not one person has the same story to tell as another; including Tanweer Ahmed. Ever since he can remember he has been finding ways to be independent and a successful Leader. Leaders in companies oftentimes have to work hard and lead others to work hard as well. Tanweer Ahmed, since the moment he left Pakistan for good in the 80s, has been excelling in every single initiative that he has taken. Dedication is attractive to customers. Ultimately, the leadership shown through dedication and passion play a major part in the successful journey.
Tanweer Ahmed is a brand, a person, and a company that owns several top-notch companies. He has built himself into this with years of toil and struggle. The small-town boy got here to the USA with big goals in his heart. Despite having a massive language barrier, and cultural differences, He ultimately started running the food industry in California. After a huge amount of struggle, he started a transportation company.
This is where he met the federal reserve vice chairman and afterwards sent him the idea as to how they can revive the banking industry. With the acceptance, he got his 1st massive fulfillment of becoming one of the largest agencies in 5 one-of-a-kind different states on the west coast aspect. He shifted his industry to food again with a bang and he added some food chains to his portfolio like KFC, pizza hut, and Taco Bell. He believes, that with loyalty, integrity, and honesty, no person can stop your fulfillment.
With an individual being hands-on, he effectively redirected towards the energy business when on one occasion in the wake of viewing his benefit and misfortune explanation which had an enormous lump of cost as energy. In the wake of occupying all the experience and learnings of advisors and designers, he was at last ready to open up an energy organization. That’s not it. With his passion for cricket in his heart, he left his hometown and flew to the USA. But that also never diminished his love for the game. Widely spreading his wings in the USA Market as a successful Businessman still his evenings would be spent playing cricket. Day by Day, his passion grew more and it was then that he decided to build the largest Cricket Stadium in the USA.
Tanweer Ahmed is not just an entrepreneur, mentor but also a person with philanthropy in his roots. He has actively been involved in financing Weddings of Girls in his homeland like his mother used to do. He has donated acres of land for the establishment of Islamic School and Muslim Graveyard in USA.
The self-made man is often portrayed as a story of rags to riches. A person who overcomes any obstacle thrown at him or her and defies all odds. Such is the story of Tanweer Ahmed.
Empowering Women in Pakistan’s Economy: Lessons from Bangladesh
Written by Noorulain Naseem, Hadiqa Sohail
October 3, 2022
Empowering and including women in the economy could be the untapped potential necessary to drive growth and development that is essential for reviving a staggering economy. Pakistan’s GDP could increase by 60 percent by 2025 if the female labor force becomes equal to the male labor force. However, to improve the access of women to the workforce in Pakistan, a deep knowledge of cultural and institutional constraints is important. Pakistan has the lowest level of gender parity when compared with other South Asian states. Offering an important comparative context, Bangladesh’s recent progress is a compelling case in particular as it is a relatively younger country, also has a Muslim majority, and faced alarming levels of poverty in the past but has been able to revive its economy, literacy rate, life expectancy and increase women participation in the workforce to 35 percent in recent years. Bangladesh’s can offer a powerful lesson in successful policies that bring women into economic development.
Living standards for many Pakistani women, and lack of access to health and education especially in rural areas are a substantial obstacle to economic empowerment. This is especially true in the former Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) regions, where only 1 in 10 girls can read, and 50 percent of young girls have never stepped into a school. In Balochistan—which has the lowest female literacy rate of 24 percent in all of Pakistan’s provinces—67 percent of girls are out of school and female labor participation stands at just 4.9 percent. In addition, the health sector of rural sectors, especially the ex-FATA region, reflects dire conditions: women who give birth under medical care falls at around 26 percent in the ex-FATA regions. Lack of education, poor health, and absence from the formal economy eventually result in low levels of essential skillsets and financial independency.
The dire economic stagnation and lack of gender parity in Pakistan can be addressed by the introduction of women-centric developmental strategies by state institutions, international aid organizations, and endorsement of women’s economic empowerment at local level leadership. Community level programs can invest in building the sense of urgency to invest in women education, health, encourage entrepreneurship, with the intention of building a women workforce; that is skilled and facilitated at state and community level to corresponding industry and production requirements. This investment will be effective in twofold manner: first, internally, it will help drive the young female population’s appetite to achieve milestones in education, health, and contribute to innovation and in turn to the growth of economy. Externally, Pakistan’s untapped female skilled labor can help position Pakistan better in the competition with the regional and global economies. Calling for the female youth towards action and share responsibility, while also preparing and training this potential workforce can enable Pakistani women to help the state and its communities in overcoming the economic and development challenges.
#Pakistan #women (137/6) beat #India women (124 all out) in #Sylhet #Bangladesh. #PAKWvINDW #WomensAsiaCup2022. https://www.espncricinfo.com/story/ind-v-pak-2022-asia-cup-sylhet-india-coach-powar-defends-tactics-pakistan-younger-players-to-feel-the-pressure-1338749
Kainat and Saleema Imtiaz, a mother-daughter duo, are presenting Pakistan at the Women's Asia Cup 2022. Kainat is playing for the national team while Saleema is an umpire.
From Pakistan to the Philippines, women break open closed industries
Female pioneers make their mark as combat pilots, cricketers and chip technologists
At the other end of the subcontinent, Urooj Mumtaz grew up playing cricket behind a carpet factory in Karachi, Pakistan. As a teen, she was captaining a boys’ team at the local club. “There still isn’t a girls’ team at the club,” Mumtaz told Nikkei Asia in an interview.
In 2006, she went on to captain Pakistan’s national cricket team, and later became the nation’s first woman to commentate an international men’s cricket match.
Both Alam and Mumtaz have managed to score a few wins on equality in their countries. Basics such as airfare, accommodation and gear have been secured, but several innings remain to pay parity.
“If the (men) are getting 100% then we are getting maybe 30 to 40%,” Alam said in an interview, noting the gap was narrower now than when they were making 5% to 10% a decade ago. Mumtaz said there was a fivefold gender pay differential in the highest category of cricket in Pakistan.
“When you get better facilities, when you pay them better … when you give them better travel, better hotels to stay at, everything translates into better results,” she said.
Several players and branding agencies have called on cricket boards to sharpen the spotlight on female cricketers via marketing campaigns. More fans would mean bigger television audiences and the promise of lucrative endorsement deals, which can run into hundreds of thousands of dollars for individual cricketers.
Pakistan’s women continue international return
Hopeful return of Pakistan
The women's game has a relatively short history in the South Asian country with their national team formed in 2010. After years of rapid development, an eight-year hiatus saw progress stall.
Since June 2022, however, the women’s game has been re-ignited across the country. The PFF wasted no time in re-organising their national team, sending them to last September's SAFF Women's Championship before they traveled to Saudi Arabia at the start of this year. For Head Coach Adeel Rizki, their impressive showings upon a return to international football came as a timely boost.
Karachi-born Asma Naeem to be the head of the Baltimore Museum of Art
Baltimore Museum of Art Taps Its Chief Curator as Its Next Director
The Baltimore Museum of Art announced Tuesday that Asma Naeem, its chief curator since 2018 and interim co-director, will become director effective Feb. 1.
Born in Karachi, Pakistan, and raised in Baltimore, Naeem practiced law for almost 15 years before switching careers and finishing her Ph.D. in American art. She becomes the first person of color to lead the museum, founded in 1914, and will oversee its collection of more than 97,000 objects and an annual operating budget of $23 million.
Naeem, 53, has been interim co-director of the museum since Christopher Bedford, the former director, left last June for the top post at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Naeem had a central role in shaping and implementing the Baltimore Museum’s strategic plan, adopted in 2018, that placed social equity alongside artistic excellence as a core principle guiding the museum’s mission. Since then, the B.M.A., as it is known locally, has been at the forefront of efforts to acquire and exhibit work by underrepresented artists and to diversify its staff, board and audiences — issues being addressed by museums nationwide to varying degrees.
“We were most impressed with how Asma has been part of the work and with her vision for the institution, in terms of how to build on this work and take us to that next level,” said James D. Thornton, chairman of the museum’s board, which promoted Naeem after a 10-month national search.
Shahzia Sikander, 53, the paradigm-busting Pakistani American artist behind the work, said the sculpture was part of an urgent and necessary cultural reckoning underway as New York, along with cities across the world, reconsiders traditional representations of power in public spaces and recasts civic structures to better reflect 21st-century social
Move Over Moses and Zoroaster: Manhattan Has a New Female Lawgiver
The Lahore-born Sikander, whose work has been displayed at the Whitney Biennial and who made her name reimagining the art of Indo-Persian miniature painting from a feminist, post-colonial perspective, was at pains to emphasize that Muhammad’s removal and her installation were completely unrelated. “My figure is not replacing anyone or canceling anyone,” she said.
Much as Justice Ginsburg wore her lace collar to recast a historically male uniform and proudly reclaim it for her gender, Sikander said her stylized sculpture was aimed at feminizing a building that was commissioned in 1896. Writing in The New Yorker in 1928, the architect and author George S. Chappell called the rooftop ring of male figures atop the building a “ridiculous adornment of mortuary statuary.”
The aesthetic merits of the courthouse’s sumptuous Beaux-Arts-style architecture aside, the building’s symbolism has outsize importance in New York’s civic and legal identity and beyond: The court hears appeals from all the trial courts in Manhattan and the Bronx, as well as some of the most important appeals in the country.
On the occasion of International Women’s Day, Careem — a ride-hailing service operating in Pakistan — announced its plan to launch a new women-driven motorbike service, catering exclusively to its female customers.
The company announced that the service will commence in Karachi and make its way to other cities in Pakistan, urging women — who are interested in working as female captains and getting access to flexible income opportunities — to get themselves registered.
Pakistan ready to write new chapter in women's cricket history
tar-studded Amazons and Super Women will go toe to toe in a three-match series on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday; Women’s League exhibition matches will start at 2pm and will be followed by HBL PSL 8 games, which will commence at 7pm; tickets for men’s matches will be valid for women’s fixtures also
PCB to utilise matches to celebrate International Women’s Day, create awareness about breast cancer and promote women’s empowerment
Some of the world’s leading sport networks to televise the three-match series live; SNTV to distribute Video News Releases (VNRs)
PCB to also live-stream matches and post-match pressers on its PCB and HBL PSL YouTube Channels; will also provide ball-by-ball scoring on its corporate website, action images and match reports
Video interviews of local and foreign internationals, as well as Marina Iqbal, Sana Mir and Urooj Mumtaz, and other Behind-The-Scenes content is available on the PCB YouTube Channel
Series hashtag is #LevelPlayingField
International Women's Day: Growing Presence of Pakistani Women in Science and Technology
It is International Women's Day on March 8, and its theme is "DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality". It's a day to highlight Pakistani women's participation in science and technology. Nearly half a million Pakistani women are currently enrolled in science, technology, engineering and mathematics courses at universities, accounting for nearly 46% of all STEM students in higher education institutions in the country. Several Pakistani women are leading the country's tech Startup ecosystem. Others occupy significant positions at world's top research labs, tech firms, universities and other science institutions. They are great role models who are inspiring young Pakistani women to pursue careers in science and technology.
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