Working Women Pakistan 19 Problems Face Daily
Working Women Pakistan 19 Problems Face Daily Men and women are pillars of society; without their equal participation in all spheres of life, no society can progress. As far as the capabilities of women are concerned, they are no less than men. They are performing their role as doctors, teachers, lawyers, and many other fields of life but still society is not giving them their legitimate status and working women are facing a lot of problems in Pakistan. They are ignored in the decision making process and they are not promoted to higher positions even if they deserve to be.
Women in Pakistan also face problems like sexual abuse and physical harassment. There has been recent legislation that has afforded them protection but it has not been implemented properly. Women will not be able to utilise their talents properly if they do not feel safe in their workplace. An attitude change is needed across the board and a good first step to effect that would be to implement existing women-friendly legislation in letter and spirit.
In a country where working conditions are generally difficult, female workers bear the brunt. The scarcity of labour inspectors in general, and the almost complete lack of female ones, doesn’t help. Almost half of Pakistan’s 180 million-strong population live in Punjab province, and it is home to more than 48,000 industrial units. But there are just 180 labour inspectors for the whole province, only two of which are women. “Even our unions are gender biased. They do not make women their members and on the other hand women do not show readiness to take part in the politics of union.”
But in addition to the problem of non-gender responsive labour inspections, women make up 65 percent of the labour force in the informal sector where labour inspections do not occur. The government needs to extend labour inspection to the informal sector as well.
Change in the bigger picture?
Pakistan is experiencing a rapid increase in the number of women joining its workforce. But the country is grappling with physical, psychological and sexual harassment of women in the workplace. In 1953, Pakistan ratified the International Labour Organisation Convention (No.81) on Labour Inspections.
Under this convention, Pakistan is bound to educate and inform employers and workers about their legal rights and obligations concerning all aspects of labour protection and labour laws, advise employers and workers to comply with the requirements of the law, and enable inspectors to report on problems that are not covered by laws and regulations. But, this is not what happens on the ground – a situation which hurts female workers the most. The lack of data and feedback hinders the understanding of the gender dimensions of work, leading to an absence of insight into policy and programme interventions. But things are slowly changing. Although labour inspector has traditionally been considered a difficult job, reserved for men, Tahir Manzoor Hotiana, who works in the Punjab labour office, says the department is working hard to incorporate gender-based labour inspection. “We have developed a Gender Responsive Labour Inspection Toolkit with the help of the ILO. This toolkit will help labour inspectors perform their functions in line with best practices in Gender Responsive Labour Inspection.”
He says that there are 70 labour laws and over 100 rules implemented in Pakistan. “Most of these laws are gender neutral so to amend all these laws according to gender needs would be a lengthy process. But, after a lot of consultation, we decided to make inspection procedures gender responsive.” In addition, the department plans to recruit five extra female labour inspectors by the end of the year.
In the past few years, the role of a woman has changed drastically in Pakistan. Women are now stepping out of their houses to earn and break free from all stereotypes that confine women to live inside a chaar deewari. Women can now be seen working as fire fighters, pilots, banks, company executives etc. In short, women are now found working in every sector. They’re supporting their families and earning for themselves with successful careers. Yet, there are many barriers they must face to prove themselves as equal individuals when out and about in the field. Here are some of the biggest challenges faced by working women in Pakistan:
1. The difference in wages
Numerous statistics claim there’s a wage gap between men and women. In a more corporate environment where both genders perform equally well, having such a differentiation happens to be the biggest challenge for a woman. A women seeks to be recognized for her hard work and talent, not for her gender. It’s unfair if she doesn’t earn as much as her respected opposite just because she’s a woman.
2. Gender Bias
Private as well as Government offices are still far behind on this issue as we see that men are given unfair advantages over women under certain circumstances. An employer should not treat men differently simply because they’re men. Many employers have an unofficial policy not to hire women because they’ll either get married and leave or have babies and leave etc. This is downright discrimination and robs women of many good opportunities.
3. Sexual Harassment
The most shameful challenge a woman faces when she leaves home in our society is sexual harassment. Until and unless the working environment is safe and healthy, a Pakistani woman cannot consider working anywhere. A lot of men are under the notion that a working woman is probably compromising in nature and they prey upon this factor for this cruel deed. Many awful men consider such women an easy target.
4. Balancing work and personal life
The juggling act of personal and professional life is exhausting. Both your work and home have various demands that need to be met. When you’re from a Pakistani background, you’re more inclined to fulfill the demands of your home before anything else because you’re always taught ‘family first.’ Making time for your ghar walay is a must. If you’re leading the double life of a professional in an office environment and a cook at home, let’s just say things are not easy on you.
5. In-office politics
Having been a victim of the worst and quite frankly most pathetic office politics in my previous job, I can say this is hands-down the worst factor ever, specially when you’re the sort of a person who just keeps ‘apney kaam sey kaam.’ You don’t care who’s getting paid what more or what less, you don’t care who has a problem with who as long as everyone is fine with you and the list goes on and on. The working environment needs to be healthy. Otherwise, it stresses you out and makes you really unhappy just thinking of going to work.
6. Husband’s insecurities
If you’re a married working woman, you’ll probably have to deal with your husband’s insecurities from time to time. Even if your husband is supportive and doesn’t mind you working, there’ll be times when his ego will get the better of him. Some Pakistani men believe that men should be the bread winners of the family and might see your achievements as threats. Others might not be comfortable with your interaction with male colleagues. Rest assured, you’ll have to be tactful when talking to your husband about your work life. Don’t make him feel threatened in any way, because that could lead to a lot of problems.
7. What people will say about this and that
This is one factor that’s part of every Pakistani woman’s life, whether you’re a working woman or a housewife. But the threat of ‘log kia kahain ge’ is much more severe on working women. They’ll assume that by working, you’re neglecting your house, family, kids etc. However, considering you don’t live with them, their opinions certainly don’t pay the bills, so no need to pay heed to what ‘log’ will say regarding you.
8. Male ego
It’s not a Pakistani office if it isn’t full of men with ego issues. These are the types of men who think a woman’s place is in the kitchen and just can’t seem to grasp why you’re working. And God forbid if you’re placed above them in the hierarchy. They’ll never take you seriously, will probably interrupt you during meetings and rest assured, they’ll talk about you in not-so-praising terms with their male colleagues behind your back. All because you’re a woman.
9. Negative thinking of the society
In this society, teaching is considered to be the only best profession for women. A woman working in an office is considered to be of loose character by the ignorant people of the society. They are looked down upon by everyone. Women also face restrictions from their families, when they opt to go out and work. They are not given the freedom of choice to do a job. They have to face the criticism by the society for no reason.
10. Transportation problem
If a woman does not know how to drive, then she suffers from transportation problem. Although the female population is greater than the male, but there are not much transport facilities available for them. They have to either be dependent on the male members of the family or drivers. Even in public transports, the compartments for the ladies are very congested and small.
11. Working late
In private organizations, late work is a norm. But first, the parents do not allow their daughters to go for an office job. And even when one gets lucky enough to get the permission, late sittings in office is totally unacceptable. Women, especially the married ones are often unable to conform to it, which is then misconstrued as their lack of determination and ambition. No matter how much the government claims increase in women’s contribution in all sectors of life, The Global Gender Gap Report 2015 still ranks Pakistan at 144 out of 145 countries. (Source: Global Gender Report 2015)
12. Harassment at work place
Harassment at the work place is another problem faced by working women in Pakistan. Most of the women come out for work in extreme need, when there is no other way to earn money. They often face harassment by their bosses or male colleagues to fulfill their demands in order to get the work done or for the sake of promotion. Women mostly stay quiet about such acts in order to save their job and respect. They are reluctant to make any allegations and prefer quitting the job sometimes. This is also one of the major reasons why families do not allow women to work outside.
This society is male dominant. Most of the men do not like women working better than them, so they feel jealous. Instead of working better, they focus on denigrating the women. Similarly, most of the husbands do not like their wives to be praised by public for their good performance or efficiency. Traditionally, men are the bread earners of the house and it is not considered appreciable if women earn more than men or support the family.
14. Domestic chores
Most of the married women are not allowed to do a job either by their husbands or their in-laws. Even if the girl is a doctor or MBA degree holder, in this society, if she does not know how to make a “GOL ROTI” she is not the perfect girl. It is indeed difficult for a married woman to maintain work and household chores evenly, at a home where no one is understanding.
15. Maternity Leave
According to the WPMBO (West Pakistan Maternity Benefits Ordinance) 1958, working mothers are entitled to 12 weeks maternity leave with full pay. But in Pakistan, women are either asked to leave the job or are given so much workload that they prefer leaving the job. There is a law for it but no sign of implementation, which results in less female workers.
16. Negative attitude of male co-workers
At the workplace, attitude of male co-workers is also sometimes very biased or humiliating. According to them, women are just hired to add color to the office environment. They enjoy passing inappropriate comments and making fun of their female co-workers. Lack of support at workplace, from supervisors and colleagues leads to job dissatisfaction, absenteeism, and low turnover. Higher authorities should try to provide female workers a supportive and respectful work environment.
17. Men Men everywhere
A woman who goes outside her home to work and to take part in social activities, always faces inappropriate comments by men or staring eyes. Man is everywhere to tease her and to chase her. This threatens a woman to go outside to work or do something for her family. This condition is very serious in villages and small cities of Pakistan, where women can’t even think of stepping out for work because of the narrow-minded feudal system.
18. Blacksheeps among women
Why pointing out men’s mistakes only? There are also blacksheeps among woman, who have become the reason of these restrictions. It is famously said that “Aurat hi aurat ki dushman hoti hai” (a woman herself is an enemy of other woman). Women can go to every extent in their jealousy and competition with other women. Sometimes girls also give away themselves to be used, for their gains and advantages, which has indeed ruined every office girl’s image in this society. Women should also learn to work with honor and respect, instead of pointing fingers on men only.
19. Hijab at the workplace
Sadly, Hijab-clad women may often be victims to workplace discrimination in Pakistan. Pakistan being a Muslim state, ideally a Hijabi woman at the workplace should be considered as modest and bold. On the contrary, a Hijabi applying for a job position raises questions and doubts about her productivity in the interviewers mind and often times she may be rejected the position at the organization or firm. Other times, these women may also be subject to social awkwardness at the workplace.
Despite all these awful problems the women in our society face, there are also many liberals, who are happy to see women standing with them and working like them. Men and women are pillars of society; without their equal participation in all spheres of life, no society can progress. As far as the capabilities of women are concerned, they are no less than men. They are performing their roles perfectly as lawyers, teachers, doctors, engineers, and in other fields of life, but still the society is not giving them their legitimate status and working women are facing a lot of problems in Pakistan. People have changed and their attitude towards working women has improved with time, but still a lot of women face various problems daily. Here we share top 10 problems faced by working women in Pakistan.
Islam has clearly defined the status of women; according to the teachings of Islam, men and women enjoy equal rights in our society. Islam does not stop women from serving social institutions or earning. Hazrat Khadijah (s.a.) also ran a trading business and there were many people working with her. It is the women who need to work with honor and some code of conduct so that no one can point a finger on them. We are living in 21st century, where everyone is in a race of improving their standard of living. Both man and woman have to work now, in order to meet their expenses and live a happy life.