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EMPOWERING WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS




Kaymu takes a look at the changing diaspora of Pakistan's society and the status of women in it.

Karachi, March 19. Walking along the streets of Pakistan, one can see cars, bikes and crowded roads, however what is odd about it is that there is not a single female driver behind the wheel of any car. Same for bikes or cycles. It isn't uncommon however to see women sitting in the backseat of a car, with a male driver maneuvering the roads to take her to her destination. To the less enlightened, this may seem to be a microcosm of the macrocosm that is Pakistani society. But not anymore.

Women from different strata of Pakistani society are slowly but surely spreading their wings in the still largely patriarchal society that is Pakistan. For example, one would be surprised to find that not many women wear burqas in public in Pakistan. The degree to which a woman chooses to cover her face varies but it is more likely to find a larger number of women in purdah in Dubai or Afghanistan than Pakistan.

It is also becoming increasingly common for women to receive education in Pakistan - something that was a taboo of sorts in parts of Pakistan even twenty or so years ago. In the city of Lahore, for example, there are 46 colleges out of

which 26 are for women and of the remaining quite a few are co-educational institutions. Despite this, the literacy rate of Pakistani women is still amongst the lowest in the world with almost 62% of the women being illiterate, with a huge disparity between urbanites and rural women.

Employment rates too; vary largely between men and women with the percentage of participation in the labour force for women being 15.57% only as compared to nearly 50% for men as per the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (2012-2013). But online communities like Kaymu are helping to change that by bringing more and more women entrepreneurs online and equipping them with the means to access additional revenue streams. It cannot be denied that measures to improve the status of women are being taken though much remains to be done for them in Pakistan. But, Malala Yousafzai illustrated by example that nothing is impossible - where there is a will, there is a way. Maybe in another five years, people walking down the streets of a metropolitan city in Pakistan will be able to spot women drivers as well.