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Hilal Her

Editor's Note

March 2024

In a world where women have historically faced barriers to equality and opportunity, the theme of investing in women has never been more crucial. This year’s theme for International Women’s Day (IWD), ‘Invest in women: Accelerate progress’, resonates strongly as we strive to empower, support, and uplift women in all aspects of society. The need to invest in women is particularly pressing in Pakistan, a country with a rich cultural heritage and a developing economy.
Investing in women goes beyond just financial support; it involves inclusion, which means creating an environment where women have equal access to education, healthcare, employment, and leadership opportunities. When women are empowered, they can contribute significantly to economic growth, social development, and the overall wellbeing of communities. However, in Pakistan, like in many other parts of the world, women face numerous challenges that deter them from entering the workforce and fully participating in society. Issues such as gender bias even at home, lack of access to education, limited healthcare services, and cultural norms that restrict women’s mobility and decision-making power all contribute to the marginalization of women in Pakistan.
One of the critical barriers to women’s economic empowerment in Pakistan is the lack of access to quality education. According to UNICEF, Pakistan has one of the lowest literacy rates for women in the world, with only 45% of women being literate. This lack of education limits women’s ability to secure well-paying jobs and hinders their participation in decision-making processes. Furthermore, gender discrimination in the workplace is a pervasive issue in Pakistan. Women often face discrimination in hiring, promotion, and salary negotiations, which not only limits their earning potential but also perpetuates gender inequalities in the workforce.
Additionally, women are often expected to prioritize their family responsibilities over their careers, hindering their professional growth and advancement. To address these challenges and create a more inclusive and empowering environment for women in Pakistan, investing in initiatives promoting women’s education, healthcare, and economic opportunities is crucial. This includes implementing policies that ensure equal pay for equal work, providing access to affordable childcare services, and creating mentorship programs for women in leadership positions.
Moreover, changing cultural norms and attitudes towards women is essential in breaking down barriers to women’s empowerment in Pakistan. By challenging traditional gender roles and promoting gender equality in all aspects of society, we can create a more inclusive and supportive environment for women to thrive and succeed.
As we reflect on this year’s theme of investing in women, let us commit to taking concrete actions to empower, support, and uplift women in Pakistan and worldwide. In this regard, forging women’s economic empowerment, recruiting, retaining, and developing female talent, supporting women and girls in leadership, decision-making, business, and STEM, designing and building infrastructure meeting the needs of women and girls, helping women and girls make informed decisions about their health, involving women and girls in sustainable agriculture and food security, providing women and girls with access to quality education and training, elevating women and girl’s participation and achievement in sport, promoting creative and artistic talent of women and girls, addressing further areas supporting the advancement of women and girls, have to be focused on. By investing in women, we are investing in their future and also the future of our communities, our economy, and our society as a whole. It is time to recognize the immense potential of women and work together to create a more equitable and inclusive world for all.


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