In any economy, the prosperity and success only lays in equality – Women making as much contribution as men. Pakistani women have emerged as powerful entrepreneurs lately. As a matter of fact, women entrepreneurship symbolizes women empowerment. Still, women in Pakistan face multiple barriers on the road to entrepreneurial success.
Role of Women in Pakistan
Females contribute to more than 50% percent of our population. A contribution from 50+% of population should suffice as a cause of development of any country. In agriculture, which is one of our biggest sources of GDP, they are responsible for excellent logistics. In various other sectors, including trading, products and services sector, women make a hefty contribution as employees, managers, officers and even as entrepreneurs. There are a lot more business opportunities and ideas for the women of Pakistan to perform as an entrepreneur.
Barriers to Women of Pakistan
According to a research conducted by British Journal of Education, Society & Behavioral Science, revealed a number of factors that act as a wall between women and entrepreneurship. The study, conducted in major cities with an objective of examination of the gender specific barriers hampering female entrepreneurs from entering our economic mainstream revealed following important barriers:
· Lack of financial means
· Mobility limitations and restrictions
· Restricted decision making
· Lack of role-models for women in trades
· Men’s hold over the market
· Family pressure
· Gender discrimination
A main issue that was unveiled during that research was lack of finance. This issue was followed by social pressures over women. These issues restricting trades for women encompassed family pressures, childcare and gender-biasness.
Findings of the Research
The study highlighted the fact that these barriers are rather a complex mix of social, institutional, and cultural factors. Even in the financial restrictions, the specifications of limitation were found to be quite unique.
A Deep Dive into the Barrier of Financial Restrictions
The World Bank’s report on the other hand revealed that no more than 25% of our female entrepreneurs are micro-finance borrowers. Even though micro-finance is a booming sector in Pakistan, women because of discrimination are forced to seek other means to raise capital for initiation and sustainability of their business.
The main cause of discrimination was revealed to be marriage. Micro-finance is mostly unavailable to unmarried women because of risk involved. Around 68 percent of women required male permission before they were granted loans.
Also according to that report, females became eligible for micro-finance only after they produced male guarantors, one of which must be unrelated to the woman seeking loan. This can be very challenging because of the mobility, social and cultural restrictions imposed over our women. What further complicates the issue is that women guarantors aren’t accepted in most scenarios.
Extractions from the World Bank’s Report
The report suggested that Pakistan can strengthen its position, especially in micro-finance sector by extending the financial hand to women. It showed that better products and financial literacy can partly solve the problem, if not wholly, and give women the resources they need to grow their business. World Bank emphasized that our State Bank can help spread micro-finance in women by revising and setting standards for consumer protection of female borrowers encouraging transparency and discouraging discrimination.