Woes of women in the labour market -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Woes of women in the labour market

Although it may be somewhat heart-warming, in a way, to learn from the fourth issue of the Ministry of Labour and Manpower’s Pakistan Employment Trends report launched together with ILO office for Pakistan on December 3, that significant progress has been made since the beginning of the decade towards achieving the Millennium Development Goal, a cursory glance at its salient features would make one feel that the whole thrust of the big effort still leaves a great deal to be desired.

For while it has made the welcome disclosure that female employment ratio has increased by 13.9 percent from the year 2000 to 19.4 percent by the year 2007, their proportion continues to indicate inferiority with comparative male data. As it is, the report focuses on “Achieving Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target 1-(b) – Full and productive employment and decent work for all including women and young people.”

However, it has regretted that challenges such as imbalances in Pakistan’s labour market continue to be very much there. More to this, it has taken note of the grim fact that extremely poor and vulnerable people are working hard and long hours in low productivity jobs, where social protection and safety networks are either scarce or simply non-existent.

Moreover, acknowledging that access to decent work and productive employment is an essential prerequisite to banish poverty and to achieve the MDGs, the report has averred that this was the reason the world summit requested all countries and international institutions to mainstream decent work agenda into their policies and programmes.

At the same time, analysing the relatively high employment-to-population ratio of almost 80 percent for men the emerging situation cannot but be seen pointing to abundance of low quality jobs, which will remain a cause of mounting concern too.

As for the year 2007, that is the seventh year in a row, since the beginning of the MDG exercise, it saw the share of men in wage and salaried jobs standing at 41.5 percent, much higher than women (25.1 percent), thus pointing to a situation in which the few wage and salaried jobs created tended to fall to men rather than women.

Worse, according to the available data roughly 60.6 percent of wage and salaried people were in vulnerable employment in 2007, that is, ‘at risk of lacking decent work.’ It will thus be noted that share of women in vulnerable employment comes to 74.6 percent and of the youth to 58.1 percent. Needless to point out, all does not appear to be in keeping with the urges and aspirations linked to attainment of MDGs, with reference, in particular, to the increasing deprivation of women, both in terms of employment and decent work, on which so much emphasis was laid at the outset.

This then is precisely why the fourth issue of Pakistan Employment Trends has concluded that utilisation of the labour potential and promotion of decent work agenda should hold the key to sustainable growth and poverty reduction.
Source: Business Recorder
Date:12/14/2008