Social, economic barriers: Main obstacles for women entrepreneurs in Pakistan 

Mahwish Qayyum pic Mahwish Qayyum

Women play an imperative role for the economic development of the country but in Pakistan, particularly in Pakhtun societies, they are barred from taking part in economic activities.

Talking about the hindrances being faced by Pakistani women entrepreneurs of running businesses, vice president of Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry (WCC&I) Mrs Iqbal Bano said “Economic barriers and social values are major obstacles in way of economic development of women.” She said that women, particularly in Pakhtun societies are discouraged to run their own businesses on the pretext of veil (purdah), customs and other reasons. She said that Pakhtun women have the potential to show the World that they are skillful and hard-working, adding that their handmade products depict the culture of their respective areas.

She maintained that females of the country including tribal women are skillful in handicrafts, embroidery, making handmade jewelry, stone jewelry, mosaic work, jute work, handmade clutches, gemstone jewelry making, cooking and other chores. However, unfortunately, they are not being encouraged to run their own businesses. In addition to that, their family members oppose them to initiate a business or take active part in social life.

Talking to The Oslo Times, Naheed, an entrepreneur of Swat district, said “Women in our area are not allowed to step out of homes and do business. We live in a conservative society and it is not considered good that females step out of their houses and do their businesses”, she said. She further added that in our society, men are considered a source of income for the family while females have to perform household chores. She said, “The social taboos, conservative mind-set, culture and other factors are killing the women skills.”

Shagufta Sayeed, member of Social Welfare Department Peshawar said, “Khyber Pakhtunkhwa women are skillful in embroidery, artistry, art work and other skills but it’s sorrowful that they are discouraged to own or run their businesses in a male-dominant society.”  She said that women by participating in economic activity not only can uplift their standard of living but also can enhance the country’s GDP growth. She maintained that Pakhtun women are artistic in their work but they lack marketing skills.

The vice president WCC&I assured that besides creating an environment that is conducive to the development of the women entrepreneurs, the chamber will play its pivotal role in empowering women economically and socially.

She opined that women entrepreneurs should export their products in neighboring countries including China, Hong Kong, Afghanistan and added that in these countries there is a good market of Pakistani traditional artifacts.

Business-women, she said, besides earning livelihood, reputation and acknowledgement through their art could also project soft image of our war-torn country.

She said that WCC&I would help women—including those who belong to slum areas—in developing linkages with customers and traders, adding that it will provide opportunities to women entrepreneurs in order to introduce their products in local and international markets.

 All Rights Reserved with The Oslo Times

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