Monday 6-8 December 2010, Lahore & Karachi: Women continue to face discrimination in the formal and informal economy with growing numbers in the latter as more of them participate as family earners to sustain their families and to earn some extra income, say the preliminary findings of ILO Research looking at gender roles and needs and its nexus with employment opportunities in textiles, services and amongst coastal communities.
The preliminary research findings were shared in two separate consultations held in Lahore on 6th and in Karachi on 7-8th December where the same was endorsed by a group of 200 participants from government, employers and workers, NGOs, research organizations, academia, media and community representatives.
The consultations were organized to discuss the trends, opportunities and development gaps for equal and decent employment of poor rural and urban women in textiles and services sectors and in coastal communities identified in the field researches carried out under the ILO project funded by CIDA Promoting Gender Equality for Decent Employment.
The consultation was opened by National Project Coordinator, Ms Frida Khan. While welcoming the participants she stressed that women’s economic empowerment is perhaps the single most important step towards gender equality in the personal and social sphere and that is why the project Promoting Gender Equality for Decent Employment aims to improve working conditions and employment opportunities for women in selected economic sectors in order to improve gender equality and decent work.
ILO’s local research partners, SDPI, Semiotics, and RAASTA presented employment trends, decent work opportunities, training needs and institutional capacity assessments in the textile and hospitality sector and coastal communities. According to the findings, textile industry is a huge contributor to the overall manufacturing output in Pakistan, generating about 8.5 per cent of total GDP and providing for more than 15 million jobs in the manufacturing sector. Within this sector, clothing and home textiles is where women are highly concentrated and they work in stitching, Sewing Machine Operations followed by Finishing and Packing.
Pakistan's service sector accounts for about 53.3% of GDP. Within Services, hospitality is a subsector where opportunities for women are growing increasingly. The hospitality sector employs 13.6% of the National Labour Force. Even though the seafood industry contribution to GDP is small, it is a potentially important sector and the contribution of women in particular often remains uncounted and invisible, and the range of livelihoods strategies available in coastal communities, unexplored.
Further some trends on company hiring and promotion policies, facilities and working conditions and environment in hospitality and textiles were also presented. According to these qualitative assessments, not many employers prefer hiring women for high skilled jobs. Many of the women who do get a are offered short term or temporary assignments so the employer does not have to bear the additional cost of benefits the workers may ask including maternity leaves, transportation, day care facilities etc. Career progression is very rare; however, a few women have broken glass ceilings and reached higher grades in the management. These women have set precedents for other women who have aspirations and are go getters.
Current s situation and apparent trends indicated in the research show that coastal communities are facing a downward spiral. While men are primarily responsible for fishing, women are heavily involved in pre-fishing and post-fishing activities, e.g. preparation of food, repairing and cleaning of net and fishing tools. Men are out fishing up to 20 days per month, leaving women to manage all household and communal responsibilities. Despite their significant contribution women have weak bargaining positions in the household, little involvement in local resource management, and are essentially excluded from decision making both at the household and community levels.
Fruitful deliberations led to substantial feedback and inputs from the participants; while most of the findings were validated, some facts were highlighted and will be made part of the revised research reports. During group work the participants also discussed various possibilities, highlighted challenges, identified potential partners, and designed holistic strategies and mini action projects that will be a roadmap to reach gender equality.
The role of mainstream traditional and unconventional media and other communication mediums was also highlighted and it was reiterated that media’s responsibility is beyond news coverage; its role has to be redefined and realigned with priorities that support sustainable social development that benefits both men and women in a given society.
For further information please contact:
Mr. Saifullah Chaudhry
Senior Programme Officer/ Media Focal Person
ILO Country Office for Pakistan, G-5/2, Islamabad
Tel: +92 51 2276456-8