Pakistani Women's Growing Particpation in Workforce

While Fareed Zakaria, Nick Kristoff and other talking heads are still stuck on the old stereotypes of Muslim women, the status of women in Muslim societies is rapidly changing, and there is a silent social revolution taking place with rising number of women joining the workforce and moving up the corporate ladder in Pakistan.



"More of them(women) than ever are finding employment, doing everything from pumping gasoline and serving burgers at McDonald’s to running major corporations", says a report in the latest edition of Businessweek magazine.



Beyond company or government employment, there are a number of NGOs focused on encouraging self-employment and entrepreneurship among Pakistani women by offering skills training and microfinancing. Kashf Foundation led by a woman CEO and BRAC are among such NGOs. They all report that the success and repayment rate among female borrowers is significantly higher than among male borrowers.



In rural Sindh, the PPP-led government is empowering women by granting over 212,864 acres of government-owned agriculture land to landless peasants in the province. Over half of the farm land being given is prime nehri (land irrigated by canals) farm land, and the rest being barani or rain-dependent. About 70 percent of the 5,800 beneficiaries of this gift are women. Other provincial governments, especially the Punjab government have also announced land allotment for women, for which initial surveys are underway, according to ActionAid Pakistan.



Both the public and private sectors are recruiting women in Pakistan's workplaces ranging from Pakistani military, civil service, schools, hospitals, media, advertising, retail, fashion industry, publicly traded companies, banks, technology companies, multinational corporations and NGOs, etc.



Here are some statistics and data that confirm the growth and promotion of women in Pakistan's labor pool:

1. A number of women have moved up into the executive positions, among them Unilever Foods CEO Fariyha Subhani, Engro Fertilizer CFO Naz Khan, Maheen Rahman CEO of IGI Funds and Roshaneh Zafar Founder and CEO of Kashf Foundation.

2. Women now make up 4.6% of board members of Pakistani companies, a tad lower than the 4.7% average in emerging Asia, but higher than 1% in South Korea, 4.1% in India and Indonesia, and 4.2% in Malaysia, according to a February 2011 report on women in the boardrooms.

3. Female employment at KFC in Pakistan has risen 125 percent in the past five years, according to a report in the NY Times.

4. The number of women working at McDonald’s restaurants and the supermarket behemoth Makro has quadrupled since 2006.



5. There are now women taxi drivers in Pakistan. Best known among them is Zahida Kazmi described by the BBC as "clearly a respected presence on the streets of Islamabad".



6. Several women fly helicopters and fighter jets in the military and commercial airliners in the state-owned and private airlines in Pakistan.

Here are a few excerpts from the recent Businessweek story written by Naween Mangi:

About 22 percent of Pakistani females over the age of 10 now work, up from 14 percent a decade ago, government statistics show. Women now hold 78 of the 342 seats in the National Assembly, and in July, Hina Rabbani Khar, 34, became Pakistan’s first female Foreign Minister. “The cultural norms regarding women in the workplace have changed,” says Maheen Rahman, 34, chief executive officer at IGI Funds, which manages some $400 million in assets. Rahman says she plans to keep recruiting more women for her company.

Much of the progress has come because women stay in school longer. More than 42 percent of Pakistan’s 2.6 million high school students last year were girls, up from 30 percent 18 years ago. Women made up about 22 percent of the 68,000 students in Pakistani universities in 1993; today, 47 percent of Pakistan’s 1.1 million university students are women, according to the Higher Education Commission. Half of all MBA graduates hired by Habib Bank, Pakistan’s largest lender, are now women. “Parents are realizing how much better a lifestyle a family can have if girls work,” says Sima Kamil, 54, who oversees 1,400 branches as head of retail banking at Habib. “Every branch I visit has one or two girls from conservative backgrounds,” she says.

Some companies believe hiring women gives them a competitive advantage. Habib Bank says adding female tellers has helped improve customer service at the formerly state-owned lender because the men on staff don’t want to appear rude in front of women. And makers of household products say female staffers help them better understand the needs of their customers. “The buyers for almost all our product ranges are women,” says Fariyha Subhani, 46, CEO of Unilever Pakistan Foods, where 106 of the 872 employees are women. “Having women selling those products makes sense because they themselves are the consumers,” she says.

To attract more women, Unilever last year offered some employees the option to work from home, and the company has run an on-site day-care center since 2003. Engro, which has 100 women in management positions, last year introduced flexible working hours, a day-care center, and a support group where female employees can discuss challenges they encounter. “Today there is more of a focus at companies on diversity,” says Engro Fertilizer CFO Khan, 42. The next step, she says, is ensuring that “more women can reach senior management levels.”





The gender gap in South Asia remains wide, and women in Pakistan still face significant obstacles. But there is now a critical mass of working women at all levels showing the way to other Pakistani women.

I strongly believe that working women have a very positive and transformational impact on society by having fewer children, and by investing more time, money and energies for better nutrition, education and health care of their children. They spend 97 percent of their income and savings on their families, more than twice as much as men who spend only 40 percent on their families, according to Zainab Salbi, Founder, Women for Women International, who recently appeared on CNN's GPS with Fareed Zakaria.

Here's an interesting video titled "Redefining Identity" about Pakistan's young technologists, including women, posted by Lahore-based 5 Rivers Technologies:



Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Status of Women in Pakistan

Microfinancing in Pakistan

Gender Gap Worst in South Asia

Status of Women in India

Female Literacy Lags in South Asia

Land For Landless Women

Are Women Better Off in Pakistan Today?

Growing Insurgency in Swat

Religious Leaders Respond to Domestic Violence

Fighting Agents of Intolerance

A Woman Speaker: Another Token or Real Change

A Tale of Tribal Terror

Mukhtaran Mai-The Movie

World Economic Forum Survey of Gender Gap

Comments

Riaz Haq said…
Here's a report about Dawood Foundation encouraging entrepreneurship in Pakistan:

KARACHI - Six of the most dynamic women entrepreneurs talked about their experiences, triumphs and losses before a spell-bound audience at the second Ladiesfund Entrepreneurship Conference (LEC) hosted by the Dawood Global Foundation (DGF) at the Avari Towers.
The event was organised in partnership with the Higher Education Commission, the Avari Group, the Dawood Capital Management, and over 60 partners, sponsors and supporters. The audience was diverse and consisted of Very Important Persons, top entrepreneurs, budding entrepreneurs, journalists and enthusiastic university students.
The Ladiesfund was established in 2007 as an initiative to provide financial security to women and to promote and train women entrepreneurs. It aims to integrate the entrepreneurial needs based on the economic and social aspects of the local communities with respect to greater women participation in the workforce.
The conference started with recitation of the Holy Quran, followed by a welcome address by TU Dawood with an introduction to virtual businesses and how they are a fabulous option for women entrepreneurs. This was followed by a speech from British Deputy High Commissioner Francis Campbell, who was the chief guest. He spoke on the importance of entrepreneurship in Pakistan and how much it could help boost our economy.
To educate the budding entrepreneurs and students in the audience about what entrepreneurship really is, there was a short academic presentation by Avari Karachi General Manager Gordon Gorman. Then followed the first panel of the conference, which consisted of Mehrbano Sethi of Luscious Cosmetics, Ayaz Khan of Okra, and Wajeeha Malik of Olive Soap.
And as a pleasant surprise for the audience, Rohail Hyatt, the powerhouse behind the famous Coke Studio, joined the panel. This panel focused on the basics of entrepreneurship. They answered questions about the realities on entrepreneurship and what made them decide to become entrepreneurs.
The second panel comprised architect Naheed Mashooqullah, designer Hassan Sheheryar Yasin, and Naila Naqvi of Pie in the Sky and Chatterbox. They shared the inside scoop on how their brands tipped to being the best in their industries, despite facing the problems that all Pakistani entrepreneurs face, like electricity, human resources, etc.
They talked about expanding businesses, and whether expanding through other people, platforms or on your own is a better option. This was followed by a question-answer session. At the end was an art auction by Mehreen Ilahi of the Majmua Art Gallery to raise funds for the DGF, followed by a lucky draw conducted by the chief guest.
The conference was moderated and hosted by Sidra Iqbal. TU Dawood finally presented the plaques to the chief guest and panellists. The event concluded with thanking all the sponsors, supporters, students, event catalysts, volunteers and ambassadors. Funds raised from the LEC 2011 are audited by Ernst & Young Ford Rhodes Sidat Hyder, and go toward Ladiesfund Fellowships & Scholarships as well as women development initiatives.


http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2011/09/women-entrepreneurs-discuss-experiences-triumphs-and-losses/
Riaz Haq said…
A just released World Bank report says that "Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan, which together account for 95 percent
of the region’s working‐age population and have the lowest rates of female participation (31 percent in Bangladesh, 30 percent in India, and 22 percent in Pakistan)."

http://siteresources.worldbank.org/SOUTHASIAEXT/Resources/223546-1296680097256/7707437-1316565221185/Jobsoverview.pdf
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a story about Emmy award winning Pakistani documentary producer Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy:

“We’re all storytellers,” says documentary filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy who knows how to make the most of people's storytelling abilities. A recent film about children groomed by the Taliban to become suicide bombers won her an Emmy award, making her the first Pakistani woman to get television's highest accolade. And her most recent film, Saving Face, about Pakistani women who've survived acid attacks is on the Oscar nomination shortlist.
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She's the brains behind the Citizens Archive of Pakistan, a database that collects stories from people across the country. “Our goal is to create a repository. We want to make a space to record how the nation has changed over the past years. And currently CAP is the only organization that is recording the personal stories of people,” she says.

Obaid-Chinoy feels that history is in danger of being wiped from her country's collective memory because politics is re-writing the national narrative. "Many children today are barely aware of what happened during the 1971 war," she says. "The defeat of the Pakistani army which led to the creation of Bangladesh is something the government is eager to forget. But CAP found enough people willing to talk about their personal experiences of the war."

The organisation's website offers a chance to browse - for no charge - through an extraordinary collection of videos. Each one is one person's story; their memories of a specific time in history.

It's a simple idea, but a powerful one. Obaid-Chinoy says it’s critical to record the stories because



“Pakistan has been extremely bad at recording its own history properly. Every new government has tried to erase the previous rulers from history. What is left in museums and school textbooks is propaganda from the latest government.”

Bringing the stories to the people
The spirit of the project however is not just to make a preserved video archive for historians.

“We’re also bringing our archive to the people. In Pakistan, information is a privilege of the wealthy, unfortunately. If you have money you can afford education and become more aware of the world around you. The CAP wants to change this,” explains Obaid-Chinoy.

And one of the ways its doing this is through their School Outreach Tour, a program sends a mobile archive of videos, photographs, and newspapers to schools around the country. The aim is to teach children more about Pakistan’s rich history and make them feel proud of it again.

“Part of the reason why Pakistan is in the shape it is in today is because it’s hard for young people to believe in the possibilities of their country. They don’t understand what the idea was behind the creation of this nation. They know so little about Pakistan’s good years,” Says Sharmeen.
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“They like telling people about the dreams they had back then. But Partition came with traumas as well. Many people left their homes to follow that dream. It was the turning point in their lives, but the moment itself was filled with hope.”

And hope is something that has been in short supply in Pakistan in recent years. The country has paid a high price for the US-led war on terror. As the forces of extremism, violence and western manipulation pull the nation in different directions, it could well be Obaid-Chinoy's story bank that may end up being definitive repository of Pakistan's soul.
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an Economic Times story on promoting women entrepreneurs:

Prominent leaders from India and Pakistan today called for concrete steps to empower women in South Asia by enabling them to assert their economic independence through entrepreneurship as a means of eradicating poverty, illiteracy, disease and crime.

Providing women with networking platforms is essential in the current globalised world, said Member of Parliament Najma Heptullah at a seminar organised by industry chamber Assocham here.

The seminar, titled, 'Fostering Women Entrepreneurship - The Way Forward for South Asia', was organised ahead of the visit of an Assocham delegation of business leaders to Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore and Rawalpindi from January 9 to 14, 2012.

Expressing her views, Pakistan Minister of Social Welfare Nargis Khan said women can play an important role in developing societies and nations.

"The country is exploring new channels to promote entrepreneurship with micro loans. Pakistani women are more empowered now after a prolonged dictatorship in a male-dominated society," Khan said.

Speaking at the seminar, Creative Living Organisation Founder and Chief Executive Officer Harbeen Arora said the formation of women associations and support groups should be encouraged to provide them bandwidth for both critical thinking and also critical mass.

"There is need more than ever for having more examples of successful entrepreneurship by women and inspiring role models," she said.

Qadim Moosarat, the Executive Director of the Paiman Trust in Pakistan, said space for women in economic and political spheres is essential for equitable development and peace in South Asia.

National Youth Congress leader Alka Lamba said both countries have many commonalities and traditional linkages. Indian and Pakistani business leaders should pursue their entrepreneurial ambition by forging economic partnerships with the neighbouring nation to promote core values of unity and peace, she said.


http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics/nation/india-pakistan-leaders-for-steps-to-encourage-women-entrepreneurs/articleshow/11155918.cms
Riaz Haq said…
Here are some findings of Buffalo University researchers on Pakistani women:

"Despite the overwhelming media attention to the rise of fundamentalism and Pakistan's geopolitical role in the 'war against terror,' Pakistan has an often-unrevealed side, characterized by an active women's movement that serves as a key democratic force committed to expanding women's rights," Filomena Critelli writes in her study, "Struggle and Hope: Challenging Gender Violence in Pakistan."

Forthcoming in the journal Critical Sociology, Critelli's analysis is based on interviews with activists who founded a legal aid practice to defend women's rights and a private shelter for women fleeing from abuse.

People seldom hear about the activism of these women's groups, Critelli says. But their work and resiliency, often in the face of resistance, harassment and safety threats, should be recognized as much as the elements of fundamentalism that have attracted international headlines.

"Within civil society (in Pakistan), women activists are advocating to implement strategies to limit gender violence as well as provide care for survivors," she writes in the study. "The women's movement continues to negotiate women's interests with the state and society, and has become increasingly effective over time, strengthened by regional and international recognition of its work."

The struggle against abuse against women in Pakistan -- which often reaches graphic proportions such as "honor killings," forced marriages, child marriages and other forms of gender violence -- is seen through a "secular human rights framework" by these activists, according to Critelli, assistant professor of social work at UB. Critelli has authored several studies on gender-based violence and women's rights activism in Pakistan. Her most recent research paper was prepared with her former student, Jennifer Willett.

It's a movement that often surprises people who do not realize the pluralistic Pakistani culture, she says, one that exists with sometimes contradictory elements that include these strong advocates of women's rights, changing political climates and traditional patriarchal social orders that inhibit independence of women.

For example, this vibrant women's rights movement has been active for over 30 years in Pakistan. Pakistan was the first Muslim country to elect a women leader, Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, and has adopted policies that set a quota of 30 percent of reserved seats for women in Parliament. As a result, women's representation in Pakistan's parliament is the highest in South Asia.

Although the women's rights movement is alive and well in Pakistan, the country also is marked by a strongly patriarchal society where male power manifests itself in a high incidence of domestic violence.

"Gender violence is estimated to take place in as many as 80 to 90 percent of the households in Pakistan," notes Critelli. "Gender violence in Pakistan takes a variety of forms, some of which are common across cultures such as marital violence, including verbal abuse, hitting, kicking, slapping, rape and murder, and economic and emotional abuse.

"Other forms of violence are rooted in traditional practices that continue under the guise of social conformism, customs and misinterpretations of religion, that also include exchange marriage, death by burning (stove deaths, which are presented as accidents), acid attacks and nose cutting (a form of humiliation and degradation)," Critelli writes. "Women are also raped and abused while in police custody, which further deters many women from reporting crimes against them."

All these practices are contrary to Pakistani law, human rights treaties ratified by Pakistan, as well as the tenets of Islam...


http://www.buffalo.edu/news/13155
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a Brown Daily Herald report on an upcoming Pakistani documentary "The Other Half of Tomorrow: Women Changing Pakistan":

Samina Quraeshi is a Renaissance woman in every sense of the phrase. A native of Pakistan, she has worn the hats of author, artist, architect, speaker, academic, photographer, curator — and now filmmaker.

Quraeshi presented clips from her upcoming documentary, "The Other Half of Tomorrow: Women Changing Pakistan," to a rapt audience of roughly 30 students and Rhode Island natives Wednesday night in the Perry and Marty Granoff Center for the Creative Arts. The richly detailed and tenderly shot film tells the stories of women in Pakistan trying to make positive changes in their surroundings as entrepreneurs, public health workers and dance instructors, among other jobs.

In an address before the screening, Quraeshi said her motive behind producing the film was to present the human face of a region often vilified in the media.

"I want to use art to introduce complex cultural nuances," she said. "Sensationalist portrayals begin to warp the public's consciousness of the people who live in (Pakistan)."

Soft-spoken and often dryly humorous, Quraeshi also emphasized that understanding a place's history is essential to understanding its culture.

"During the past Bush era, there was a culture of fear on top of a lack of awareness," she told The Herald. "It made people want to get into their houses and watch their TVs, but all the media coverage was doing was propagating stereotypes."

The film preview was part of a national series called "Caravanserai: A Place Where Cultures Meet," which aims to introduce American audiences to contemporary Muslim artists. The Providence nonprofit FirstWorks competed fiercely with organizations across the country to host Caravanserai in the city, said Kathleen Pletcher, executive artistic director of FirstWorks. Only four other U.S. nonprofits earned a spot as a stop on the tour.

"There's this idea of a caravanserai as a place where weary travelers along the road stop and rest and share their stories," Pletcher said. "It's a very collective act. And that's what we're hoping to do here — connect art with audience."

The next Caravanserai event is a Feb. 7 screening of "Made in Pakistan," a documentary from Pakistani filmmaker Ayesha Khan. Quraeshi's film is slated to be released in October.


http://www.browndailyherald.com/granoff-hosts-pakistani-renaissance-woman-1.2694725#.TywcK-RWGSo
Riaz Haq said…
Here are excerpts of an Op Ed in The Atlantic titled "The White Savior Industrial Complex"
By Teju Cole:

What Africa needs more pressingly than Kony's indictment is more equitable civil society, more robust democracy, and a fairer system of justice.
--------------
1- From Sachs to Kristof to Invisible Children to TED, the fastest growth industry in the US is the White Savior Industrial Complex.

Teju Cole @tejucole

2- The white savior supports brutal policies in the morning, founds charities in the afternoon, and receives awards in the evening.

Teju Cole @tejucole

3- The banality of evil transmutes into the banality of sentimentality. The world is nothing but a problem to be solved by enthusiasm.

Teju Cole @tejucole

4- This world exists simply to satisfy the needs—including, importantly, the sentimental needs—of white people and Oprah.

5- The White Savior Industrial Complex is not about justice. It is about having a big emotional experience that validates privilege.

Teju Cole @tejucole

6- Feverish worry over that awful African warlord. But close to 1.5 million Iraqis died from an American war of choice. Worry about that.

Teju Cole @tejucole

7- I deeply respect American sentimentality, the way one respects a wounded hippo. You must keep an eye on it, for you know it is deadly.

These tweets were retweeted, forwarded, and widely shared by readers. They migrated beyond Twitter to blogs, Tumblr, Facebook, and other sites; I'm told they generated fierce arguments. As the days went by, the tweets were reproduced in their entirety on the websites of the Atlantic and the New York Times, and they showed up on German, Spanish, and Portuguese sites. A friend emailed to tell me that the fourth tweet, which cheekily name-checks Oprah, was mentioned on Fox television.

These sentences of mine, written without much premeditation, had touched a nerve. I heard back from many people who were grateful to have read them. I heard back from many others who were disappointed or furious. Many people, too many to count, called me a racist. One person likened me to the Mau Mau. The Atlantic writer who'd reproduced them, while agreeing with my broader points, described the language in which they were expressed as "resentment."

This weekend, I listened to a radio interview given by the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nicholas Kristof. Kristof is best known for his regular column in the New York Times in which he often gives accounts of his activism or that of other Westerners. When I saw the Kony 2012 video, I found it tonally similar to Kristof's approach, and that was why I mentioned him in the first of my seven tweets.

Those tweets, though unpremeditated, were intentional in their irony and seriousness. I did not write them to score cheap points, much less to hurt anyone's feelings. I believed that a certain kind of language is too infrequently seen in our public discourse. I am a novelist. I traffic in subtleties, and my goal in writing a novel is to leave the reader not knowing what to think. A good novel shouldn't have a point. ....


http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/03/the-white-savior-industrial-complex/254843/
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a Samaa TV report on a girl rickshaw driver in Karachi:

A deprived but very bold girl has started rickshaw driving to feed her five-member family in Karachi, SAMAA reported on Monday.

Rubeena is young but not afraid of driving rickshaw on busy roads of Karachi as she is committed to feed her old mother, three sisters and one injured brother.

It is first case of its kind in the largest city of Pakistan, where no female has dared to earn living by driving a rickshaw or taxi up till now.

Rubeena is not familiar with the uncountable roads of the metropolis so, initially she is picking nearby passengers in her area including few regular passengers only.

Few female passengers and other trustworthy regular travelers used to call her on mobile phone number when they need to go somewhere.

Rubeena does not care that what people think about her as a rickshaw driving girl; she just cares about her cause and commitment with the family.

It seems that Rubeena’s bold step will open door for many other brave girls to earn living and change their families’ destiny.


http://samaa.tv/newsdetail.aspx?ID=44499&CID=1
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a Financial Times story on a women's only university in Pakistan:

Established in Rawalpindi in 1999 as the first public sector university exclusively for women, the FJWU makes education accessible to women from conservative Muslim homes who would otherwise not be allowed to attend a mainstream university. It also takes female students from impoverished families who cannot afford the exorbitant fees charged by private universities.

“Young women who come to FJWU include many from circumstances beyond your imagination. They come from poor families who are simply unable to afford even a regular bus fare let alone a car,” says Prof Qadir.

The FJWU’s MBA programme accepts about 60 students a year and in the past decade has seen more than 800 students graduate. It is located in the Old Presidency – the former official residence of Pakistan’s heads of state. Previous residents include the late military dictator Zia ul Haq who introduced some of the most rigorous laws targeting women, an irony for those who see FJWU’s role as the empowerment of young women.

Many of FJWU’s students enter the programme under the impression that they will not be taught alongside men. However, the reality of going through an MBA programme soon exposes women to an environment where men and women work side by side. The six-week obligatory internship takes place in a non-segregated environment and students can find themselves working in organisations ranging from the ministry of the environment, to the Pakistan Red Crescent society to the US embassy in Islamabad. The students also find themselves competing aggressively with male students from other universities in events such as job fairs.

“From day one, we push our business students to face the rigour of the practical world” says Prof Qadir.

“The students may step into a segregated campus which is for women only, but they must then face the realities of the practical world. That’s what an MBA programme is all about.”


http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/2/5a9b1e6e-687d-11e1-a6cc-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1qBxQGnq1
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a VOA report on USAID helping women entrepreneurs in Pakistan:

Despite tensions between Washington and Islamabad, Pakistan remains a major recipient of U.S. foreign aid, including efforts to boost the earning power of women. One such program is helping thousands of embroiderers market their garments and manage their businesses. A mother of seven has quadrupled her monthly income since taking part in the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Entrepreneurs Project.

An accomplished embroiderer with no formal education, Jamila struggled for years to augment her husband’s income by doing stitching and beadwork in a poor Karachi district. Thanks to USAID-funded business training, she now manages a team of embroiderers, spearheading a thriving enterprise.

“My life has been transformed. I am proof that a woman can earn and do something productive for herself and her children,” said Jamila.

She also said the instruction she received from USAID is invaluable.

“The training showed us how to run a successful business. We were taught marketing and improved our skills. We learned to take orders and the importance of on-time deliveries for growing the business,” said Jamila.

Helping female entrepreneurs like Jamila is a cornerstone of USAID’s global anti-poverty efforts.

“If you can effectively engage women in development solutions, you get better results, more sustainability, more kids in school, reduced malnutrition,” said Agency administrator Rajiv Shah.

The strategy has the backing of some American lawmakers who decide USAID funding levels.

“Empowering women is one of the most critical tools in our toolbox to fight poverty and injustice,” said Democratic Senator Ben Cardin.

At a time of runaway U.S. debt, many lawmakers want assurances that foreign aid money is wisely spent and generates real results.

“Our national debt has grown to more than $15 trillion. This scenario brings great pressure to our government’s financial obligations, and places our entire economy at some risk. In this context, the dollars available for global development will necessarily be limited,” said Republican Senator Richard Lugar.

In Pakistan, training provided by USAID helps to build a lifetime of higher incomes for women like Jamila.

"I am now earning up to 2,000 rupees [$22] a month, up from 450 rupees [$5], and 40 other women are working with me. I hope even more will come forward after seeing how my life has been changed,” said Jamila.


http://www.voanews.com/english/news/asia/USAID-Boosts-Female-Entrepreneurs-in-Pakistan-144260265.html
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an excerpt from Newsweek Pakistan on women entrepreneurs:

What inspired you to start your own businesses?

Roshaneh Zafar: I never thought I’d start my own business at 27, but I met [Grameen founder] Dr. Muhammad Yunus at a conference and he changed my life. He talked about women’s economic empowerment and how a simple loan could change lives. I spent time with him in Bangladesh and he encouraged me to help Pakistani women [with microfinance opportunities]. He said if I fail, I could blame it all on him.

Ambarine Bukharey: I started gemstone exports in 1989 and never thought this would become a serious business. I was the first woman in this line, and I think so far the only one who’s also mining. When I first went out in the markets in Peshawar to buy gemstones, all these men would just stop and stare and laugh at me. They were highly skeptical. But now we’re one big happy family. Now I can sit with five or six Pathans in the middle of the night examining stones. I feel safe now, because they look after you like family.

Sajida Zulfiqar Khan: I started this furniture business after my husband died. People here and abroad have been very responsive to our work.

Nasreen Kasuri: I’m afraid my story is not as glamorous as the rest. I started out in 1975 when my own children were starting school. I looked around for the right nursery school in town, and felt that none of them was suitable for children aged 2 and 3. So I started my own Montessori in Lahore. After that it was just a series of fortunate coincidences.

Zeenat Saeed Ahmed: I was bored with marriage. So I started making little gifts and set up a small boutique store, Sehr. Later, I set up a garment factory and had 600 people working for me at one time. In 1993 I went bankrupt, so I closed down and also got divorced the same year. It wasn’t a happy time. When I ran out of whatever little money I had left, I decided to start Taneez. I started from home, and when we did our first store in 2000 it was an instant success.

Did you face any resistance from your families in striking out on your own?

Khan: A little, but it gets better every day.

Kasuri: I didn’t really face any resistance, not in the beginning. They thought this was just a hobby which would keep me busy and out of mischief.

What do you consider your first achievement in the profession? When did you realize you had made it?

Zafar: It took me 10 months after setting up Kashf to organize women in groups and encourage the concept of women working at home or in the community. There were these five women who were the first risk takers, who took Rs. 4,000 to start their business some 18 years ago. It was just incredible when the first repayment installment came in and then the next; these women had begun to feel confident because they could invest in a business, earn and actually be able to repay their loans.

Bukharey: For me it was being able to break through the culture of the male-dominated mining market and become accepted as an equal.

Khan: My business is pretty simple. Every woman in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa told me this would be a difficult business, dealing with labor and everything. But it has worked and I’m pretty happy about it.

Kasuri: What I started was very small. For the first few years it didn’t make any money, and that didn’t matter. I was doing my own accounts. Every time I was short of money I would put some money in and keep it going. When it did finally make money I was quite excited, except that real accountants told me I hadn’t made any money. They put in the amortization and depreciation and told me I had actually lost money. So it took me some time to figure out that when you think you have made money, you haven’t really.

Ahmed: When I got my first check something like 35 years ago, I was pretty excited...


http://www.newsweekpakistan.com/features/946
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an excerpt of Summitpost story on Pakistani woman mountain climber Samina Baig:

The Pakistan Youth Outreach Second Climbing Expedition in winter to Mingligh sar 6050m was indeed amazing, Samina Baig being the first woman from Pakistan to go on a winter attempt in the Karakorum was a great mile stone in Pakistani women’s adventure history.Samina Baig who had topped Chashkin Sar Peak,which was uncllimbed, in August-Septermber 2010. The team along with Samina set High Camp at nearly 5525m which was new for any girl from Pakistan in winter and pushed for the summit the next day. Due to extreme cold and insufficient clothing for Samina (due to financial constraints) mainly down jacket and pants, the team decided to return approximately 150m short of the summit. Samina reached the height of approximately 5900m. Later the weather turned to hell and we called off the Expedition however the PYO first basic mountaineering training camp for young school boys and girls was very successful.This expedition was dedicated to all those who have been affected by the floods in Pakistan this year.
Since Karakorum has different weather conditions, the winter arrives late November in the high mountains of Karakorum, according to the calendar year it has been said that December climbing expeditions are not a full calendar year expedition. However a few years back the Alpine club of Pakistan organized a climbing expedition to Peer Peak in the Karakorum which was named “Winter Expedition”. Similarly there was another expedition in November by locals which was also named Winter Expedition. Looking at the extreme weather situation in the high mountains, December and January is normally considered winter in the Karakorum, Pamir area hence the expedition is also Winter Expedition.
The expedition kicked off on the 8th of December 2010 after three days acclimatization in Shimshal Valley. We hired 12 porters, two cooks and Mr Yausaf Khan, former army climber as our expedition advisor. The first day was spent at Korband. During the winter days are short and most streams at different summer camp sites get frozen therefore the first night spent at Korband was pretty chilly and there was a lot of frost in the tents. After a steep climb of Ghar Sar the next day the team managed to reach Uch Forzeen in 9 hours, the chill was great though the day was sunny. Uch Forzeen provided us with good shelter for cooking in the hut but sleeping in the tent was pretty hard, at midnight I found my sleeping bag frosty and frozen half due to my breathing but a great adventure all the same! Uch Forzeen to Arbon Purian was a nice journey, the frozen slopes of Arbon Purian were nice for practice and play adventure in the cold climate.


http://www.summitpost.org/samina-baig-account-of-first-pakistani-women-s-winter-climbing-expedition/698778
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a Nation story on women entrepreneurship in Pakistan:

Vital role of female entrepreneurs can help in improving the economic conditions of Pakistan. Therefore Khushhalibank joined hands with Dawood Global Foundation (DGF), Dawood Capital Management Limited (DCM) and Higher Education Commission (HEC) to promote women entrepreneurship by sponsoring the third LADIESFUND Entrepreneurship Conference, themed Cutting Edge Entrepreneurship (LEC 2012), recently held in Karachi.

Khushhalibank President Ghalib Nishtar said we are pleased to sponsor this dynamic event. The LADIESFUND Conference is a platform where women are supported and celebrated as the nucleus of change and betterment in the family unit, a vision that is a mainstay at Khushhalibank. This year, LEC 2012 hosted Pakistan’s first Student Entrepreneurship Exhibition which showcased the work of deaf student entrepreneurs as well as handicapable student entrepreneurs, an effort to celebrate the especially gifted disabled students of our community.”

Additionally the event served as a fundraising effort with partial proceeds directed towards ovarian cancer awareness as well as LADIESFUND(r) Fellowships and Scholarships, the awards for which are to be presented at the 5th LADIESFUND(r) Women’s Awards in March 2013.


http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/business/21-Sep-2012/businesswomen-to-help-improve-economy
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a Washington Post story on working women driving retail boom in Pakistan:

LAHORE, Pakistan — A perfectly coiffed model, draped in diamonds, shoots a sultry gaze from the cover of a glossy in-room magazine at a luxury hotel chain in downtown Lahore. The cover line on the ad-packed issue screams: “Wow! World of Women.”

And with good reason. Economists say that, in recent years, Pakistani women have fueled a retail boom in name-brand shopping as they move from a traditional homebound life into the working world.

“You can go into any shopping mall or any cafe, and you will see young girls sitting, having lunch, chatting away,” said Rashid Amjad, vice chancellor at the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics in Islamabad. “Despite all this conservatism that has been growing at the same time, you have a change.”

In many urban centers, the days when girls were forced to abandon education and eschew employment in favor of remaining within the walls of their homes seem to be mostly a memory.

Traditionally, men here bear the burden of sustaining the household, so for many middle-class women, their paychecks are entirely their own to spend — a boon for the newly booming retail industry.

“I can afford to spend whatever I like,” said Rabiya Bajwa, 37, a lawyer. “My income is roughly 20 percent more than what it was five years ago.” Bajwa does contribute to the household budget, but her two-income family enjoys a comfortable “cushion,” and she splurges on expensive designer clothes.

But this good fortune is not evenly distributed, said Hafiz Pasha, a noted economist at Beaconhouse National University in Lahore. Pakistan, he said, is still far behind other countries in terms of women’s economic contribution.

“This growth is witnessed in urban centers where middle-class working women are found,” Pasha said. “In rural areas, although the participation of women in the economy is more than the urban centers, they are not well-paid, and their share in the economy is much less.”

Although women have long been underpaid and subject to discrimination in the Pakistani workforce, they are coming into their own at a surprising rate. Since about 2002, Amjad said, participation by women, traditionally low, has been rising.

Many men left agriculture jobs, so work was being generated and women readily moved in, Amjad noted. Now, somewhere between 28 percent and 36 percent of women work in Pakistan, he said, but many work in home-based businesses, so their numbers are not easily ascertained.

In schools and colleges, young women study side by side with their male counterparts. “They seem to be very easy together, they talk very easily, and they discuss issues quite comfortably,”Amjad said, “so in a way higher education has increased female confidence to work with men, and that has helped.”

Three retail store owners surveyed in Lahore said most of their customers are working women, and they credited them with increasing their business.

“We started from a small store, but now we have five outlets in various parts of the city,” said Hasan Ali, manager of Bareeze, a leading brand of women’s clothing. “We have been in the market for the last 10 years, and roughly the business has expanded 40 percent in that period. . . . There are those out there who don’t even ask the price, and pay.”

Rukhsana Anjum, 47, a senior instructor at the Government College of Technology in Lahore, said she earns about 100,000 rupees, or $1,054, a month. “Gradually in the last five years I have become brand-conscious,” she said. “Today, definitely I spend more on my clothes and jewelry.”


http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/pakistani-women-drive-retail-boom/2012/09/30/b6e38eea-0a3f-11e2-afff-d6c7f20a83bf_story.html
Riaz Haq said…
Here's BR on Darawt dam to help Jamshoro farmers, including land for landless women farmers:

Divisional Commissioner Hyderabad Ahmed Bux Narejo has directed the executing authorities of Darawat Dam project to keep their ongoing works continue as per their schedule and assured that the matter for land acquisition pertaining to development works of project would be resolved very soon on priority basis.

He also directed the Deputy Commissioner Jamshoro and Deputy Commissioner Thatta to conduct the survey of the land coming in the utilisation of Dam, ascertain its status, whether it was private or government land and also identified that it has been processed for section 4 or not. This he said while presiding over a meeting regarding allotment of land to the management of Darawat Dam held at his main office today. Deputy Commissioner Jamshoro Agha Sohail, Deputy Commissioner Thatta Mohammad Nawaz Sohu, Project Director of the project Gul Mohammad Junejo, Iqbal Shaikh from Wapda attended the meeting.

Addressing the meeting, Ahmed Bux Narejo said that President Asif Ali Zardari was taking keen interest in the early implementation of the project. He said that this project to conserve 1,21,000 acre ft of flood water from its catchments area Nai Baran scattered over 3150 square KM and to irrigate 25,000 acre of district Thatta. He said that this Dam to bring Socio-Economic upliftment of remoted areas of Sindh and to pave the way for irrigation, fisheries development, women emancipation, provision of water for domestic and drinking purpose, providing employment and recreational facilities as well. He said that during the first phase, 100 women landless Haries have been identified by Revenue Department and National Rural Support Programme jointly and added that each to be allotted up to 25 acres of land after completing all formalities as per revised land grant policy of the PPP government.

The Project Director Gul Mohammad Junejo while briefing to the meeting said that the reservoir area of the project falls in Jamshoro district, where as its command area falls in Thatta district. He said that this Dam located across Nai Baran near Jhangri Village in Jamshoro District, 70 KM west of Hyderabad. He said that the Dam has source of water from Hill torrential scattered over the area of 3150 square Kilo meters in lower Kherthar range. He said that now the executing works by the Chinese company Sinohydro-MAJ (JV) involve in this task heading toward reservoir and its command areas where some problems of land acquisition have been arisen. He said that the work on this project was going at full swing.


http://www.brecorder.com/agriculture-a-allied/183/1248563/
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an excerpt from an Express Tribune story on rise in Pakistani women in workplace:

according to the 2011 Pakistan Employment Trends Report, compiled by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, female labour force participation has jumped from 16.3% in 2000 to 24.4% in 2011. That jump represents an extra seven million women in the work force.

So who are these women? There is very little specific research on the profiles of women who have entered the workforce, but the 2012 Economic Survey of Pakistan, issued by the federal finance ministry, states that a major proportion of the rise appears to be taking place in urban areas. The government does not break down employment data by specific sectors or levels, but it appears – at least from anecdotal evidence – that women are entering the workforce, to varying degrees, at most levels and virtually all sectors.

Their reasons for joining the workforce have also not been documented in detail, but there are at least a few statistics that provide hints about their motivations. Education levels appear to be rising across the board, and fertility rates are hitting an all-time low virtually every year. Pakistani women are better educated and are less burdened with child-care than at any time in history (much more than men, but less than their predecessors a generation ago.)

Another factor appears to be need: according to The Express Tribune’s analysis of data provided by the Household Integrated Economic Survey, the bottom 20% of households in Pakistan have not seen their incomes keep pace with inflation. Many patriarchal households have had to abandon their traditionalist strictures against women working outside the home and let their female relatives work to bring in more income.

Seven million women is not a number to be trifled with: while women have yet to crack the glass ceiling in Pakistan (representation at senior levels of management remains shamefully low), they are beginning to gain increasing economic clout. And this increased clout is changing the way business is done in Pakistan, largely by making it more inclusive than it used to be.

Many companies, for instance, have caught on to the idea that female customers have money to spend, but may not necessarily be comfortable speaking to male salespersons, regardless of how friendly or courteous they may be. That, in turn, has led to the rise in hiring of female staff members, creating stable corporate-style employment opportunities for blue-collar women. The rising spending power of upper-middle class women is helping their lower-middle and working class sisters get jobs.

It is also perhaps not a coincidence that the first Pakistani law against sexual harassment in the workplace was passed in 2011. Perhaps politicians now feel that urban women are an increasingly important electoral constituency.

And the rise in female consumers has also given birth to a new breed of female entrepreneurs in Pakistan. This is a game being played not just by the daughters of rich businessmen, but also by more working class women, aided by government efforts like the incubation centres set up by the Punjab government in Lahore, and the state-owned First Women’s Bank providing lending facilities.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/464126/social-revolution-rising-economic-power-of-pakistani-women/
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an ET report on women entrepreneurs in Pakistan:

The Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority (Smeda) organised the Women Business Incubation Centre (WBIC) in Pakistan to promote women’s participation in the consumer sector. The major goal of the project is to provide a protected and hassle-free business environment to women entrepreneurs and to help them develop business skills that will enable them to compete successfully in the modern marketplace.

“Pakistani women entrepreneurs need to start inventing their own business concepts,” said Asma Maryam, project director of WBIC while talking to The Express Tribune.

Majority of women entrepreneurs fall within the 20 to 40 years age group. Women entrepreneurial ventures can create jobs, in which women are either the owner or the sales staff, Maryam added.

All the facilities provided by Smeda in WBIC like, electricity, gas, telephone bills, security are at a nominal rent of Rs7,260 per month, she added.

There are two operational WBICs in Pakistan; one is in Lahore and the other in Peshawar. Centres in Quetta, Swat and Karachi are under construction. The Karachi project will be operational very soon. The Sindh government approved two more WBICs in Karachi, said Alamgeer Chaudhry, general manager of Smeda, Lahore while talking to The Express Tribune.

The funds are provided by the government but these projects may face financial constraints as Smeda’s funding will be suspended by the next fiscal year. Smeda is approaching international donors to fund the project. For this purpose, the University of Southern Queensland Australia and Lahore College for Women University have expressed their interest, he added.

Women are likely to buy products if they are sold by women, which has increased revenues of the women’s business centre by 60%, said Shahida Tahir, shopkeeper in WBIC in Lahore, while talking to The Express Tribune. She added that women were earning handsome profits because of this project and hoped that if granted increased funding, the project will open doors to more upcoming female entrepreneurs.

Huma Kiran, a designer in WBIC, said that previously, she was earning Rs15,000 per month by designing dresses at her home. But now her income has jumped three-fold to Rs50,000 after she managed to find a shop in the Smeda centre.

Mehwish Zahid, a customer at WBIC, said that she was feeling more comfortable while purchasing goods from women.

She said that lack of motivation coupled with limited capital and skilled workers are the main causes of economic backwardness of females.

There is a need to setup both general and specialist support organisations in the country at various levels to encourage this sector. This can be done by financial institutions, business organisations and concerned governmental departments.

Mena bazaar of Karachi is the best bazaar where women are doing business; the government of Punjab should also organise such bazaars in Punjab to promote the culture of women entrepreneurs.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/464107/bosses-at-home-but-denied-leadership-in-corporate-world/
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an excerpt of a recent Khatmandu speech by Pak social scientist Arif Hasan:

.. ...In my city, Karachi, anyone my age will similarly tell you how wonderful Karachi used to be...the calm that we enjoyed was really like the peace of the dead. It was a kind of peace made possible by the feudal system.
------------
I asked an elder from the taluka whom I had met in 1983, now much older, “Sahib, did you have honour killings before?”

He said, “Yes, we used to have one in perhaps ten years. It was a rare occurrence, and we would discuss one for ten years until another happened.”

“Then why it is happening now with such regularity?”

He said, “Now, everyone has become shameless, without honour, so honour killings are taking place.”

I asked, “Why is there no honour today?”

He responded, “The young people, they’ve gone to the city, and they’ve done all the wrong things. The girls have learned how to read and write, they’ve gone to school, some of them have gone to university as well. They have no morals left, so this is bound to happen.”

“You mean this is going to continue like this forever?”

“No, no, it will stop!”

“How and when will it stop?”

His reply was educative: “The honour killings will stop when everyone becomes shameless, then it will end.” Then he added, “But I hope that I die before that day.”

He was a man of the old, feudal rural culture, with its own pattern of behaviour and way of thinking. He was part of it, and it was dying, so he wished to die with it.

In 1992, the applications for court marriages in Karachi amounted to about 10 or 15, mainly applications from couples who were seeking the protection of the court for wedlock without familial consent. By 2006, we were seeing more than 250 applications for court marriages per day in Karachi. Significantly, more than half of the couples seeking court recognition of their betrothal came from rural areas of Sindh. This is yet another indication of how the entire feudal system and its values are in rapid collapse.

This collapse is also heralded by the advances in women’s education. According to 2006 figures, fully 72 percent of the University of Karachi student body is today female. Among medical students, 87 percent are women, and the figure for architecture and planning is as high as 92 percent. In fact, our vice chancellor was so concerned that he suggested a quota for men. I used to teach a class with one boy and 15 girls. That has changed a little now as we have tried to even it out. But the reason is simply that women do better on the entrance tests. There’s no other reason for it.

In 1971, I started working in low-income settlements in Karachi, and a decade later I joined the Orangi Pilot Project (OPP). The settlements that we worked in at that time were primarily working-class, and when we went over we were met by older men who were mostly illiterate. They spoke to us in very formal, feudal language – janaab, huzoor, sahib, miyan, “We are all your children and need your protection,” and all that. At that time, in the 1980s, the women hardly worked. Things are entirely different when you go to the OPP today; it’s not what you would call a shanty settlement. It’s mostly the younger generation who will meet you, and they will address you as ‘uncle’ rather than ‘sahib’. The people you meet are bank managers, school teachers, professionals working in the service sector of Karachi.
-----------
... The recent shooting of Malala Yusufzhai has shown what Pakistani society really feels and how it thinks on issues. For the first time the Pakistani establishment – the army as well as the three major political parties – have all condemned the Taliban for the shooting. The people have spoken in the huge rallies, in Karachi and elsewhere. ...


http://himalmag.com/component/content/article/5126-the-eclipse-of-feudalism-in-pakistan.html
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an AFP story about love online in Pakistani town of Muzaffargarh:

MUZAFFARABAD: Sania was just a schoolgirl when she logged onto an Internet chat room and met a young college student called Mohammad. They fell in love and decided to get married.

Internet dating in the West is now so common that it is no longer considered an act of shameful desperation but an acceptable way for busy professionals to discover a like-minded partner.

But for Sania, the 22-year-old daughter of a conservative truck driver in Pakistan, online romance and her subsequent marriage has meant repeated beatings and death threats at the hands of her relatives.

“No one gets married outside our community. It is our tradition,” Sania told AFP. She is from the garrison city of Rawalpindi and Mohammad comes from Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani-administered Kashmir.

At first she and Mohammad chatted online. Then they both bought mobiles to continue their relationship by telephone. For several years they asked their parents for permission to marry, but were refused.

So Sania decided to escape.

She packed a bag and sneaked out while her brother was at school, her mother sleeping and her father out at work. She took the bus straight to Muzaffarabad.

“I spent the four-hour journey in fear. I kept thinking that if my family caught me, they’d kill me,” she told AFP.

In Muzaffarabad, Mohammad met her off the bus and they got married immediately. But while his family quickly accepted Sania, nearly two years later the couple still live in fear of her relatives.

Twice they have dragged her back to Rawalpindi since her marriage and have demanded repeatedly that she break off relations with Mohammad.

“Last time they took me back three months ago and put lot of pressure on me to break off this relationship. I got in contact with my husband and asked him to fetch me. I escaped from the house at midnight and we managed to flee,” she said.

Now Sania and her 24-year-old husband have moved to a new one-room house in a slum, changed their phone number and dare not venture out of the city.

“They say they will kill us whenever they find us,” Sania says.

Women in Pakistan who marry against the wishes of their parents are ostracised or even killed by male relatives for supposedly bringing dishonour on the family.

But online relationships are a new phenomenon.

---

Mohammad Zaman, professor of sociology at Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad, who has written a book about marriage, says arranged unions that have dominated for centuries are on the wane.

“Internet marriage is a new trend emerging in Pakistan. Technological advancement has entered into our homes and traditional taboos are slowly vanishing in educated and affluent families,” Zaman told AFP.

Online, they can share personal information and swap photographs — things that would be restricted or prohibited in the traditional selection of partners.

The Internet is changing mindsets, giving young people freedom and privacy, and a forum to discuss matters frowned upon by Pakistan’s traditional, conservative society.

“There is a kind of emancipation in society and young people want their say in the selection of their future partner,” Zaman said, although he conceded that parents find it easier to accept a son’s choice than that of a daughter.

Tahir, a Pakistani peace activist, knows only too well how the freedom of the Internet can collide with the restrictions of everyday life — not only conservative sensibilities but politics and war.

The 26-year-old fell for university student Nazia on Facebook and Skype.

All fine and good, except that Nazia lives on the other side of one of the most heavily militarised borders in the world — that which divides the Himalayan region of Kashmir between India and Pakistan.

--


http://dawn.com/2012/12/16/love-online-challenges-pakistan-taboos/
Riaz Haq said…
Here's Reuters on rising divorce rate in Pakistan:

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistani women are slowly turning to divorce to escape abusive and loveless marriages, once taboo and still a dangerous option in this strict Muslim nation even as more women become empowered by rising employment and awareness of their rights.

But the number of women with the courage to seek divorce remains small in the face of Pakistan's powerful religious right and growing Islamic conservatism, and in a male-dominated nation where few champion women's rights.

Women are often killed while pursuing divorces, with some shot on the way home from court or in front of their lawyers.

In the capital Islamabad, home to 1.7 million people, 557 couples divorced in 2011, up from 208 in 2002, the Islamabad Arbitration Council said. The Pakistani government does not track a national divorce rate.

"If you are earning, the only thing you need from the guy is love and affection. If the guy is not even providing that, then you leave him," said 26-year-old divorcee Rabia, a reporter who left a loveless arranged marriage to a cheating husband.

Despite their small numbers, Rabia and other women like her are seen as a rising threat from Pakistan's conservative forces.

"The women have been given so-called freedom and liberty, which causes danger to themselves," Taliban spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan told Reuters.

There were at least 1,636 "honor killings" last year, said Pakistani rights group The Aurat Foundation. The mere perception that a woman has behaved in a way that "dishonors" her family is sufficient to trigger an attack.

Pashtun singer Ghazala Javed became a statistic in June. A famous beauty, she married after fleeing Taliban threats. Then she discovered her new husband already had a wife. When she asked for a divorce, she and her father were shot dead.

FINANCIAL EMPOWERMENT

While women divorcing their husbands is widespread in the West, growing markedly in the 20th century in many developed nations, it is a relatively new phenomenon in Pakistan.

And while a divorce case in the Muslim family courts must be resolved within six months, civil divorce cases can drag on for years, making it even harder for tens of thousands of women from religious minorities to get a divorce.

In the commercial hub Karachi, lawyer Zeeshan Sharif said he receives several divorce enquiries a week but virtually none a decade ago.

Women seeking a divorce usually come from the upper and middle classes, he said. Lawyers' fees are at least $300, a year's wage for many of Pakistan's 180 million citizens. For poor housewives, hiring a lawyer is impossible.

Most Pakistanis think the higher divorce rate is linked to women's growing financial independence, a 2010 poll by The Gilani Foundation/Gallup Pakistan found.

The number of women with jobs grew from 5.69 million to 12.11 million over the past decade, the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics said.

"Women are also making money now and they think if they have empowerment, they do not need to sacrifice as much," said Musfira Jamal, a senior member of the religious party Jamaat-e-Islami. "God does not like divorce ... (but) God has not given any right to any man to beat his wife or torture his family."

In 2012, clerics and a religious party demanded a review of a bill to outlaw domestic violence, saying it risked undermining "family values".

Western culture, not abuse, is why women seek divorces, said Taliban spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan.

Yet domestic violence was one of the most common reasons for divorce, said lawyer Aliya Malik. Around 90 percent of Pakistani women experienced domestic violence at least once, a 2011 Thomson Reuters Foundation poll found....


http://mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSBRE90806J20130109
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a Harvard Business Review piece on women in Pakistan:



"Pakistan is a highly complex and ambiguous country," Ehsan Malik, Country Manager for Unilever Pakistan, told me. "The media projects Pakistan as conservative, but there is a large segment of society that is liberal and broad minded." (Disclosure: Unilever is a client of mine globally, but not the Pakistan branch particularly.)

"My predecessor at Unilever Pakistan was a woman who went to run L'Oreal Pakistan. My wife runs a business and both our mothers and sisters have always worked, as do many in our families and friends. So for me Unilever's gender balance drive is not something extraordinary." Two of the people on Malik's six-person Management Committee are women, and he sees the possibility that his successor could be female. "There are three senior women who have been listed as high potential so we could have a majority female Management Committee in the foreseeable future."

"We aimed to set an example and become a model on gender balance. Now, virtually all our competitors are doing the same... In Pakistan, despite the bad press, when it comes to gender, employers are progressive."

How do the men react? "There was a debate two or three years back, around a concern that we were favoring women. We made it very clear: between two equal candidates, we said we would pick the woman because there is an imbalance that needs to be corrected." In Pakistan, as in a growing number of countries, women perform better academically. "Medical colleges are 70% women but less than half of them continue working beyond a few years of qualifying, partly because of family reasons but also due to working conditions," notes Malik.

In many companies I work for, some of the greatest openness and action on gender balance is in emerging market operations. I have found managers in Brazil, India or Malaysia more enthusiastic and convinced of the business case than their Western colleagues, in much more challenging contexts. And ready to go to much greater lengths to adapt to women's needs.

Like Pakistan. Unilever Pakistan has achieved its gender balancing targets internally (ahead of most Western countries), which Malik considered "relatively simple," yet by doing things that might appear inconceivable elsewhere. So, for example, to recruit female engineers in its remote factories, Unilever provides security-guard staffed housing for the women next to the facilities, ensuring their safety and reassuring their families. Flexible working from different locations — home, distributor premises, or ad agency offices — is another step that benefits all managers. However, he observed, "some female managers prefer coming to the office — there is a day care center to look after their children, they want to get away from extended families that many in Pakistan live with, [and] they can escape the power cuts that plague large cities."

These seemed like obvious investments to Malik who is now setting his sites on "a much bigger agenda" with gender as a competitive advantage with consumers, and a condition for working with suppliers.

---

For the moment, there are 900 women who have gone through the training, and Malik is planning on increasing this to 7,000. "The rural population's bank is usually a couple of villages away. So we are finding that not only do other women come for beauty advice, they also start coming for advice on how to open bank accounts and start a business. And it seems the men are starting to come too, looking for the same guidance."

"Where government fails," concludes Malik, " global companies can fill the void by building concepts that become platforms for change and progress."


http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2013/01/unilevers_pakistan_country_man.html
Riaz Haq said…
An excerpt from the HDR 2013 report summary mentioning Pakistan is as follows:

More than four-fifths of these developing countries increased their trade to output ratio between 1990 and 2012. Among the exceptions in the subgroup that also made substantial improvement in HDI value are Indonesia, Pakistan and Venezuela, three large countries that are considered global players in world markets, exporting or importing from at least 80 economies. Two smaller countries whose trade
to output ratio declined (Mauritius and Panama) continue to trade at levels much higher than would be expected for countries at comparable income levels.

Here's a Business Standard report on HDI 2013 in South Asia:

Of 187 countries, India's Human Development Index (HDI), essentially a composite measure of health, education and income, rank stands at 136, on a par with Africa's Equatorial Guinea and just above Cambodia and Laos in Southeast Asia. Even over a longer period (between 2000 and 2012), it registered average annual HDI growth of 1.50 per cent, lower than Pakistan's (1.74 per cent).

Viewed in the context of the BRICs grouping (Brazil, Russia, India and China), India's standing is much below its peers - China is ranked 101st, Russia 55th and Brazil 85th. In fact, India remains squarely stuck at the bottom end of the second-lowest category in the report -Medium Human Development - even as neighbour Sri Lanka (99) moves a step higher towards becoming a "high human development" nation.

A closer look at India's performance reveals more inadequacies, especially in education. Though the country's life expectancy at birth, mean years of schooling and per capita GNI are comparable to peers, India's "expected years of schooling" is significantly below others, including Vietnam, Bhutan and even Swaziland.

Gender inequality
India is no easy country for women. The Human Development Report's Gender Inequality Index, which assesses gender-based inequalities based on reproductive health, empowerment and economic activity, ranks India 132nd out of 148 countries, below Bangladesh (111) and Pakistan (123).

"26.6 per cent of adult women have a secondary or higher level of education, compared to 50.4 per cent of their male counterparts (in India)," said an explanatory note. "Female participation in the labour market is 29 per cent, compared with 80.7 per cent for men."

Difficult future?
Though the report recognises key initiatives undertaken in India in recent years - particularly reforms in the education system, the direct cash transfer programme, a rise in social sector spending, public-private-partnerships across sectors and growing connectivity -vital concerns remain.

"India has the most projected child deaths over 2010-2015, about 7.9 million, accounting for nearly half the deaths among children under five in Asia," the report said. "China has more people than India, but is projected to have less than a quarter (1.7 million) the number of child deaths over 2010-2015."

India also has to contend with a substantial, uneducated population, possibly partly counteracting the country's feted demographic dividend. "Despite the recent expansion in basic schooling and impressive growth in better educated Indians, the proportion of the adult population with no education will decline only slowly," the report predicted.

"Even under an optimistic fast-track scenario, which assumes education expansion similar to Korea's, India's education distribution in 2050 will still be highly unequal, with a sizeable group of uneducated (mostly elderly) adults."


http://www.business-standard.com/article/economy-policy/un-report-belies-india-s-claims-of-inclusive-growth-113031500034_1.html
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a Daily Beast piece on girls' education in Pakistan:

Humaira Bachal was just a teenager when she looked around her impoverished Karachi neighborhood at the children roaming the barren streets, and realized that she and her sister were the only ones who were going to school. Bachal’s mother was making sure her daughters got an education, against her father’s wishes. When her father discovered she was going to take a high school entrance exam, he beat her mother. He also beat her. She took the exam anyway. And then, determined to improve the shameful number of girls completing a primary education in Pakistan—only 59 percent—Bachal she started teaching a handful of local children in her home.

A decade later, Bachal was sitting on stage in an ornate theater at Lincoln Center in New York, talking about the 1,200-student school she runs in a gang-ridden part of Karachi through the Dream Foundation Trust, which she created and runs. Bachal “doesn’t take any nonsense. And the [local] men respect that,” says documentarian Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy (CEO, SOC Films), who made a movie featuring the Pakistani activist and who was also on stage for the fourth annual Women in the World Summit, hosted by Newsweek and The Daily Beast. Along with her fellow Pakistani panelist Khalida Brohi (founder and director, Sughar Women’s Program) and of course Malala Yousafzai, all of whom began their education activism as teenagers, Bachal represented a major thread woven through the 2013 summit: the promise of the rising generation of young women activists, entrepreneurs, and leaders.

Call it the girls-who-change-the-world summit. Of course there were many veteran activists among the featured delegates, but there was also a sense that the current crop of tech-savvy young women may be able to change women’s education and labor-force participation even more quickly and decisively than their immediate predecessors. As Hillary Clinton put it in her summit address, “Much of our advocacy is a top-down frame. It’s past time to embrace a 21st-century approach to advancing the opportunities of women and girls” by empowering youthful, grassroots leaders.

----
In India and Pakistan, the poorest 20 percent of boys get five more years of education than girls do.”

Technology

Though women are rocking education in the United States—they now get the majority of both college and graduate degrees—they are sorely underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields, known in the jargon as STEM. In fact, they’ve lost ground in the past decade. As the summit’s “Grooming Titans of Tech” panel moderator Chelsea Clinton pointed out, the number of female computer science majors has dropped from 20 to 12 percent in the past decade. Reshma Saujani, the founder of the organization Girls Who Code, a nonprofit that teaches underprivileged teens how to code in computer science languages, is looking to change those dreadful numbers. Saujani bragged to the WITW audience about how evangelical her first group of graduates is: they teach their friends what they learn in their coding classes.....


http://www.thedailybeast.com/witw/articles/2013/04/10/from-pakistan-to-syria-young-women-and-girls-demand-change.html
Riaz Haq said…
Here's Asia Times on a woman candidate defying tribal traditions in Pakistan's FATA region:

BAJAUR AGENCY, Pakistan - "My sole motive is to serve my people, especially women who have had no role in politics so far. I feel we can make progress only by bringing in women into mainstream politics." These are the words of Badam Zari, 40, who has filed her nomination papers with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). Zari is contesting from the militancy-hit Bajaur Agency, one of the seven districts in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) near the Afghanistan border.

Zari's tiny but lush green house in Arang village is buzzing with activity as women from the neighborhood come in droves to congratulate her for the exemplary courage she has shown in standing for elections.

Forget standing for election, women in FATA do not vote. It was only in 1997 that the federal government gave the six million residents of FATA the right of adult franchise. Before that, only a few government-nominated elders called Maliks were entitled to cast votes or stand in election.

In January this year, the Election Commission of Pakistan proposed an amendment to the Representation of People Act, 1976, making it compulsory for every polling station to have at least 10% of its total votes cast by women. It went so far as to suggest that results from polling stations not be taken into account till that provision was met. The government, however, paid no heed to the suggestion.

"I am extremely worried about tribal women, most of who stay in their houses, which has prevented them from making any progress," Zari told IPS. "My only ambition is to struggle for the improvement of women's conditions in Bajaur Agency. Women here are suffering as none of the lawmakers in FATA have ever worked towards their development."

Her action, she is sure, will motivate women to come to the polling booths on polling day and vote in her favor....


http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/SOU-01-100413.html
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an AP report on women making up majority of students at Karachi's Dow Medical University:

KARACHI, Pakistan — In a lecture hall of one of Pakistan’s most prestigious medical schools, a handful of male students sits in the far top corner, clearly outnumbered by the rows and rows of female students listening intently to the doctor lecturing about insulin.

In a country better known for honor killings of women and low literacy rates for girls, Pakistan’s medical schools are a reflection of how women’s roles are evolving. Women now make up the vast majority of students studying medicine, a gradual change that’s come about after a quota favoring male admittance into medical school was lifted in 1991.

The trend is a step forward for women in Pakistan, a largely conservative Muslim country. But there remain obstacles. Many women graduates don’t go on to work as doctors, largely because of pressure from family and society to get married and stop working — so much so that there are now concerns over the impact on the country’s health care system.

At Dow Medical College in the southern port city of Karachi, the female students said they are adamant they will work.

Standing in the school’s courtyard as fellow students — almost all of them women — gathered between classes, Ayesha Sultan described why she wants to become a doctor.

“I wanted to serve humanity, and I believe that I was born for this,” said Sultan, who is in her first year. “The women here are really striving hard to get a position, especially in this country where women’s discrimination is to the zenith, so I think that’s why you find a lot of women here.”

For years, a government-imposed quota mandated that 80 percent of the seats at medical schools went to men and 20 percent to women. Then the Supreme Court ruled that the quota was unconstitutional and that admission should be based solely on merit.

Now about 80 to 85 percent of Pakistan’s medical students are women, said Dr. Mirza Ali Azhar, the secretary general of the Pakistan Medical Association. Statistics gathered by The Associated Press show that at medical schools in some deeply conservative areas of the country such as Baluchistan in the southwest and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in the northwest, men still outnumber women. But in Punjab and Sindh provinces, which turn out the vast bulk of medical students, the women dominate. At Dow, it is currently about 70 percent women to 30 percent men.

In comparison, about 47 percent of medical students in the U.S. are women, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.

There are a number of different reasons why men don’t make the cut, say students, faculty and medical officials. Medical school takes too long and is too difficult. Boys have more freedom to leave the house than girls, so they have more distractions. Boys want a career path in business or IT that will make them more money and faster, in part because they need to earn money to raise families.

At Dow, for example, just about all the male graduates work as doctors, but only an estimated half the women do, says Dr. Umar Farooq, the school’s pro-vice chancellor. Nationwide figures on how many women graduates forgo actual practice don’t exist, but despite years of increased women’s enrollment, the gender breakdown of doctors remains lopsided. Of the 132,988 doctors registered with the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council, 58,789 are women. The number of female specialists is even smaller: 7,524 out of 28,686....


http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/in-pakistans-medical-schools-women-far-outnumber-the-men-pushing-back-on-society-pressures/2013/04/19/2a6410ea-a8b7-11e2-9e1c-bb0fb0c2edd9_story.html
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a Frontier Post piece on USAID helping dairy sector in Pakistan:

The USAID Dairy Project has spurred growth in Pakistan’s rural economy by helping women farmers increase their incomes and improve their livelihoods.

Realizing the pivotal role rural women play in Pakistan’s livestock sector, USAID is creating a pool of up to 5,000 locally-trained and readily-available female livestock extension workers to provide veterinary services and advice on the care and feeding of cattle to rural dairy farmers. The project also meets farmers’ basic needs by providing them with quality supplies for their animals, such as feed, vitamins, and medication.

The USAID Dairy Project is a catalyst to create new jobs and improve rural livelihoods in Pakistan. “My husband used to work at a private school, but he had to quit his job because of an illness. Now he is unemployed. I was educated through the 12th grade, but I could not find a job,” said Asma, a resident of Toba Tek Singh in Punjab.

“I was worried about my husband’s health and the fact that I couldn’t do anything for my children’s future even though I am educated. I couldn’t sleep at night. But then I heard about this USAID project. I am happy to say that I am now working in my village as a livestock extension worker, providing basic animal healthcare services in my village.”

USAID’s Dairy Project, launched in July 2011, selects dynamic rural women with a high school diploma and trains them in basic animal health management techniques and entrepreneurship. The program has already trained 2,470 unemployed rural women, helping them earn an average of 2,500 rupees per month. It aims to train an additional 2,530 farmers.

“I am advising people in my village about how to improve milk production,” Asma added. “This USAID project has connected us with livestock experts and pharmaceutical companies we didn’t know about before. So far, I have treated around 600 animals and earned 46,000 rupees. Now, our household is prosperous and my sick husband is getting treatment. I am also re-investing in my own agriculture business.”

Naazra, another beneficiary of the project and a resident of Cheechawatnee, was trained as a livestock extension worker and is now successfully running her own business supplying concentrated feed to local dairy farmers.

“USAID trainers introduced me to a quality manufacturer of cattle feed and gave me a mobile phone so I could easily contact suppliers and customers. I have earned 30,000 rupees in three months by selling quality feed. I used the money to develop my business and meet the basic needs of my family. I even bought a refrigerator, which has been very useful for the summer season.”

These women represent a symbol of change and are a testimony to the fact that careful interventions, designed based on community needs, can truly transform rural livelihoods. Women like Aasma and Naazra are helping to modernize Pakistan’s dairy sector in line with international practices.

The dairy and livestock sectors contribute about 11 percent to the gross domestic product of Pakistan. Forty-five percent of Pakistanis are employed in the agricultural sector. Most dairy farmers have only two to three cattle, and few have access to veterinary services that are crucial to improving milk yields.

Dairy farming is vital for the rural economy of Pakistan, and USAID’s extensive training programs for dairy farmers, women livestock extension workers, and artificial insemination technicians will continue to play an important role in transforming livelihoods in rural communities...


http://www.thefrontierpost.com/article/13010/
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a Reuters' report on a newly-inducted female fighter pilot in Pak Air Force:

With an olive green head scarf poking out from her helmet, Ayesha Farooq flashes a cheeky grin when asked if it is lonely being the only war-ready female fighter pilot in the Islamic republic of Pakistan.

Farooq, from Punjab province's historic city of Bahawalpur, is one of 19 women who have become pilots in the Pakistan Air Force over the last decade - there are five other female fighter pilots, but they have yet to take the final tests to qualify for combat.

"I don't feel any different. We do the same activities, the same precision bombing," the soft-spoken 26-year-old said of her male colleagues at Mushaf base in north Pakistan, where neatly piled warheads sit in sweltering 50 degree Celsius heat (122 F).

A growing number of women have joined Pakistan's defence forces in recent years as attitudes towards women change.

"Because of terrorism and our geographical location it's very important that we stay on our toes," said Farooq, referring to Taliban militancy and a sharp rise in sectarian violence.

Deteriorating security in neighbouring Afghanistan, where U.S.-led troops are preparing to leave by the end of next year, and an uneasy relationship with arch rival India to the east add to the mix.

Farooq, whose slim frame offers a study in contrast with her burly male colleagues, was at loggerheads with her widowed and uneducated mother seven years ago when she said she wanted to join the air force.

"In our society most girls don't even think about doing such things as flying an aircraft," she said.

Family pressure against the traditionally male domain of the armed forces dissuaded other women from taking the next step to become combat ready, air force officials said. They fly slower aircraft instead, ferrying troops and equipment around the nuclear-armed country of 180 million.

"LESS OF A TABOO"

Centuries-old rule in the tribal belt area along the border with Afghanistan, where rape, mutilation and the killing of women are ordered to mete out justice, underlines conservative Pakistan's failures in protecting women's rights.

But women are becoming more aware of those rights and signing up with the air force is about as empowering as it gets.

"More and more ladies are joining now," said Nasim Abbas, Wing Commander of Squadron 20, made up of 25 pilots, including Farooq, who fly Chinese-made F-7PG fighter jets....


http://in.reuters.com/article/2013/06/12/pakistan-airforce-women-idINDEE95B0GZ20130612
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an AFP report on Pakistan Army's first female paratroopers:

Pakistan’s first group of female paratroopers completed their training on Sunday, the military announced, hailing it as a “landmark achievement” for the deeply conservative Muslim country.
Captain Kiran Ashraf was declared the best paratrooper of the batch of 24, the military said in a statement, while Captain Sadia, referred to by one name, became the first woman officer to jump from a MI-17 helicopter.
Women have limited opportunities in Pakistan’s highly traditional, patriarchal society. The United Nations says only 40 percent of adult women are literate, and are frequently the victims of violence and abuse.
But in 2006, seven women broke into one of Pakistan’s most exclusive male clubs to graduate as fighter pilots - perhaps the most prestigious job in the powerful military and for six decades closed to the fairer sex.
After three weeks’ basic airborne training, which included exit, flight and landing techniques, the new paratroopers completed their first jump on Sunday and were given their “wings” by the commander of Special Services Group, Major General Abid Rafique, the military said.


http://english.alarabiya.net/en/life-style/art-and-culture/2013/07/14/First-Pakistan-women-paratroopers-make-history.html
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an open letter in The Guardian from Pakistani writer Mohammad Hanif addressed to TTP leader Adnan Rasheed:

Dear Adnan Rasheed,

I am writing to you in my personal capacity. This may not be the opinion of the people of Pakistan or the policy of the government, but I write to thank you in response to the generous letter you have written to Malala Yousafzai. Thanks for owning up that your comrades tried to kill her by shooting her in the head. Many of your well-wishers in Pakistan had been claiming the Taliban wouldn't attack a minor girl. They were of the opinion that Malala had shot herself in order to become a celebrity and get a UK visa. Women, as we know, will go to any lengths to get what they want. So thanks for saying that a 14-year-old girl was the Taliban's foe. And if she rolls out the old cliche that the pen is mightier than sword, she must face the sword and find it for herself.

Like you, there are others who are still not sure whether it was "Islamically correct or wrong", or whether she deserved to be "killed or not", but then you go on to suggest that we leave it to Allah.

There are a lot of people in Pakistan, some of them not even Muslims, who, when faced with difficult choices or everyday hardships, say let's leave it to Allah. Sometimes it's the only solace for the helpless. But most people don't say leave it to Allah after shooting a kid in the face. The whole point of leaving it to Allah is that He is a better judge than any human being, and there are matters that are beyond our comprehension – maybe even beyond your favourite writer Bertrand Russell's comprehension.

Allow me to make another small theological point – again about girls. Before the advent of Islam, before the prophet gave us the holy book that you want Malala to learn again, in the times we call jahilia, people used to bury their newborn daughters. They probably found them annoying and thought it better to get rid of them before they learned to speak. We are told Islam came to put an end to such horrendous practices. If 1,400 years later, we have to shoot girls in the head in an attempt to shut them up, someone like Russell might say we haven't made much progress.

Like you, I did a bit of research in Malala's hometown in Swat valley, and I remember a wise journalist warning your commanders that the Taliban might get away with slitting people's throats in public squares but not to try shutting down the girls' school. The government practically handed over the valley to your comrades, but their rule didn't even last for a few weeks because they ordered all women to stay home.

There was only one lesson to be learned: you can fight the Pakistani army; you can try and almost kill Pakistan's commander-in-chief, as you so heroically did; you might wage a glorious jihad against brutal imperial forces. But you can't pick a fight with the working women in your neighbourhood and hope to win. Those women may never get an audience at the UN but everyone – from cotton picker to bank teller – cannot be asked to shut up and stay home, for the simple reason that they won't.

It has also been suggested that your letter represents the mainstream opinion in Pakistan. But don't fall for this praise. You might think that a lot of people support your just fight, but there is a part of them that worries whether their girl will get the grades to get into a good university. And if you tell them there is a contradiction there, they might tell you to leave it to Allah...


http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jul/18/letter-taliban-leader-malala-yousafzai-girls
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan's Burka Avenger female superhero reflects shifting ground realities with increasing women participation in the affairs of the nation.

http://www.riazhaq.com/2013/07/burka-avenger-pakistans-buka-clad.html

Examples include:

1. First women paratroopers inducted in Pakistan Army.

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/pakistan-s-female/757556.html

2. First female combat pilot commissioned in Pakistan Air Force.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-22895373

3. First female jirga held in Pakistan.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-23442129

4. Malala Yousufzai emerges as an international icon for girls' education in Pakistan and elsewhere.

http://www.riazhaq.com/2013/07/pakistani-government-and-top.html

5. Increasing number of court marriages by young couples in defiance of tradition of marriages arranged by parents.

http://www.riazhaq.com/2012/12/violent-conflict-is-part-of-pakistans.html

6. Rising female participation in Pakistan's work force.

http://www.riazhaq.com/2011/09/working-women-seeding-silent-social.html
Riaz Haq said…
"If war breaks out, I will be flying on my senior's wing as his wingman, well, wingwoman," she said in an interview with The Daily Telegraph at the headquarters of the Pakistan Air Force in Islamabad.....For Fl Lt Farooq, it would provide the ultimate chance to prove that women were every bit the equal of men in the cockpit.
"When I get orders I will go and fight. I want to prove myself, to show that I'm doing something for my country."

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/pakistan/10279119/Pakistans-only-female-fighter-pilot-becomes-role-model-for-millions-of-girls.html
Riaz Haq said…
Malala inspires girls school enrollment surge in KP, reports Bloomberg:

MINGORA, Pakistan — The Pakistani Taliban's attempts to deter girls from seeking an education, epitomized by the shooting of 16-year-old Malala Yousafzai in the face last year, are backfiring as school enrollments surge in her home region.

While Yousafzai missed out last week on the Nobel Peace Prize, her plight is helping change attitudes in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, which lies at the center of a Taliban insurgency. The four-month-old provincial government boosted education spending by about 30 percent and began an enrollment drive that has added 200,000 children, including 75,000 girls.

Yousafzai's story "is certainly helping us to promote education in the tribal belt," Muhammad Atif Khan, the province's education minister, said by phone. "Education is a matter of death and life. We can't solve terrorism issues without educating people."

Taliban militants targeted Yousafzai in retaliation over her campaign for girls to be given equal rights to schooling in a country where only 40 percent of adult women can read and write. Though the Nobel award went to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Yousafzai was showered with accolades in a week in which she published her memoir: she won the European Union's top human rights prize and met President Barack Obama at the Oval Office.

The shooting occurred a year ago as Yousafzai traveled home on a school bus in Mingora, a trading hub of 1.8 million people where a majority of women still cover their faces and girls aren't comfortable answering questions from reporters. The bullet struck above her left eye, grazing her brain. She was flown for emergency surgery to Britain, where she lives today.

The increased media attention on Swat since the shooting is pressuring government officials to improve educational standards and encouraging locals to send their kids to school.

Three days ago in Mingora, as local channels flashed the news that Yousafzai didn't win the peace prize, high school student Shehzad Qamar credited her for prompting the government to build more institutions of higher learning.

"She has done what we couldn't have achieved in 100 years," Qamar said. "She gave this town an identity."..
------------
"Taliban wanted to silence me," Yousafzai said in an interview with the BBC last week. "Malala was heard only in Pakistan, but now she is heard at the every corner of the world."

Sadiqa Ameen, a 15-year-old school girl in Swat, said she wanted to read Yousafzai's book, titled "I am Malala." The Pakistani Taliban, or Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, has threatened to kill Yousafzai and target shops selling her book, the Dawn newspaper reported, citing spokesman Shahidullah Shahid.

"This is probably the first ever book written by a Swati girl," said Ameen, who lives near Yousafzai's school. "I am sure her story will be something we all know and have gone through during the Taliban rule."

Musfira Khan Karim, 11, prayed for Yousafzai's success in the Nobel competition with her 400 schoolmates in Mingora.

"I want her back here among us," Karim said in her school's playground. "I want to know more about her. I want to meet her."


http://www.registercitizen.com/general-news/20131013/taliban-intimidation-backfires-as-shot-teenager-inspires-school-enrollment-surge
Riaz Haq said…
According to Pakistan's Federal Bureau of Statistics, the proportion of women at work in the country has increased from 16.3% to 24.4% in a decade.

But activists say that despite this, many women still find it difficult to be accepted in the male-dominated workforce.

Qualified driver Aliya Bibi spoke to the BBC about her struggle to find employment in Rawalpindi.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-25421606
Riaz Haq said…
Women participation in the work force in Pakistan has increased to 25% from 16% a decade ago. Jobs held by Pakistani women range from airline pilots, fighter jet pilots, military generals, soldiers, police officers, parliamentarians, ministers, business executives, doctors, lawyers, engineers, accountants, fast food workers, taxi drivers, farm workers, etc etc.

Women now make up 4.6% of board members of Pakistani companies, a tad lower than the 4.7% average in emerging Asia, but higher than 1% in South Korea, 4.1% in India and Indonesia, and 4.2% in Malaysia, according to a February 2011 report on women in the boardrooms.

http://www.riazhaq.com/2011/09/working-women-seeding-silent-social.html
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a VOA report on a woman chef in New York:

NEW YORK — Few women make it into the top ranks of chefs in New York City. It’s even harder for women who are not U.S. citizens, but one young Pakistani woman has broken this barrier.

Fatima Ali is the sous - or assistant - chef at the famous Café Centro in Midtown Manhattan. She is also one of the very few Pakistani women to graduate from America’s top culinary institute, the Culinary Institute of Arts.

But what makes Ali even rarer, according to a VOA survey, is that she may be the only non-American female chef in any of 70 top New York restaurants.

Ali grew up in Pakistan, and she says there’s so much for her to take back to her home country.

“There’s so many things that I've been exposed to in the U.S., that I may not have been exposed to in Pakistan. Like the plethora of ingredients that are available here," she said. "But it’s been really interesting, taking what I have learned in America and then whenever I go back home to visit, cooking for my family and friends with the ingredients that I love from there.”

In July, Ali competed with other chefs on the Food Network TV show, "Chopped." Her blend of Pakistani spices and Western cuisines won her the top award of $10,000.

“The fact that I won, I suppose was such wonderful validation, all like the sacrifices that my family has made to put myself through school, and to be away from home for so long and the biggest thing for me was to inspire other young Pakistani girls to follow their dreams,” explained Ali.

“She has great potential, and I give her another two to three years, and she definitely will be a master chef,” said Jan Hoffmann, executive chef at Cafe Centro.

Ali wants to make a difference through her cooking. She was first inspired by poor children at her mother’s charity organization.

“I think I was 12 or 15 when I set up my first food stall at one of my mother’s festivals to raise money for these kids the fact that I had made even a small amount of difference cooking for somebody, I think that’s what just sealed the deal for me,” Ali added.

Ali hopes to return to Pakistan and establish subsidized kitchens where poor families can enjoy low-cost, organic meals - and where teens can learn cooking and other job skills.


http://www.voanews.com/content/pakistani-woman-makes-it-big-as-new-york-chef/1508082.html
Riaz Haq said…
Humera Ashique created history after becoming the first Pakistani woman to clinch gold in an international event in Nepal on Sunday.

The 24-year-old judoka took gold at the South Asian Judo Championship in Kathmandu as she defeated a Nepalese athelete to clinch the 48kg event.

The Lahore-based athlete is happy to realise her dream after training hard at the national camp since November. "I'm just relieved now," said Humera.

"I was so tired of failing to win the ultimate title. But after so many years and hard work I've finally managed to win a gold medal. Before leaving for Nepal I told my parents that I'll succeed. I performed sensibly and outplayed very tough opponents."

Meanwhile, Pakistan took second position in the overall championship with three gold medals, three silver and six bronze, next to India on the top, while Nepal finished third.

http://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/humera-first-pakistan-woman-to-clinch-judo-gold-114041400480_1.html
Riaz Haq said…
One recently became the country’s first female fighter jet pilot. The other is CEO of a group of schools. Yet another left an engineering degree to become captain of the national cricket team.
Though terrorism has plagued Pakistan, women are bravely making inroads in different fields, defying all odds to represent the modern face of their country.
News and images of honour killings and acid attacks on women in the country often make headlines around the world, but the progress made by Pakistan’s women is hardly shown.
Women in Pakistan are building impressive careers, launching successful, independent ventures of their own and training young girls to follow in their footsteps.
With impressive resumes and university pedigrees that rival most male executives, these women are making waves.
“Most women in Pakistan are extremely progressive in their presence in every field whether it is politics, sports, entertainment, fashion, performing arts or business but all we need is to portray them positively,” said Ambreen K, who is pioneer member of the Pakistan Change Initiative (PCI) — a Dubai-based group working to highlight positive image of Pakistan. Ambreen said the PCI strives to present the positive side of the country through various events.
“We recently held an event in Dubai to showcase modern face of Pakistani women and their contribution to the society and it was a big hit,” she said.
Though traditional gender roles still exist for many women in Pakistan, some are making impressive gains.
They are part of a growing cadre of women who are determined to move forward despite threats from hardliners.
Women make up slightly more than half of Pakistan’s population of 180 million. Though only 17 per cent of them are considered “economically active”, given the chance they have proved their mettle in every field.
The women in Pakistan have never been so proud as when First Lt Ayesha Farooq became the first female fighter pilot in the Pakistan Air Force in 2013.
She had joined the Air Force at the age of 17 after battling to convince her mother to let her realise her dreams.
Cultural practices used to prevent many women from working outside their homes in Pakistan. Today, that is changing. More women are now leading a number of successful businesses in various industries while creating previously unheard of opportunities for other women.
One such woman is Fatima, an educationist and model in Lahore.
Fatima is the chief executive officer (CEO) of Beaconhouse School System, a network of private schools founded by her mother-in-law. Another example is Sana Mir, captain of Pakistan’s women’s cricket team, who has become a great inspiration for girls to join sports. Mir was enrolled in an engineering degree at a national university, but left to pursue her passion for cricket.
Pilates instructor Zainab Abbas was determined to be different when she opened her fitness studio, Route2Pilates, in Lahore after receiving training in Bangkok, Thailand. She carries out rehabilitation workouts for people with joint problems as well as specialised workouts for pregnant women.
Zahra Afridi chose to be an interior designer and runs her own interior design company. Her most recent project was the Classic Rock Coffee café in Islamabad. She is also an avid kick-boxer and regularly trains to stay fit.

http://gulfnews.com/news/world/pakistan/beyond-terror-and-taliban-pakistan-s-women-rise-1.1358113
Riaz Haq said…
MEERAN PUR, Pakistan (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Azeema Khatoon, a mother of five, has spent most of her life laboring in Pakistan's sunbaked cotton fields for less than $2 a day.

Last year, she and a group of around 40 women struggling to feed and clothe their families on their meager wages did something almost unheard for poor women working in rural Pakistan - they went on strike. The gamble paid off.

Khatoon, 35, says she has nearly doubled her wage in the past year, now taking home $3.50 a day compared to $2, with her success just one story cited by labor activists to encourage rural women to band together and form a united workforce.

Agricultural wages in Pakistan have a massive impact on women, and in turn on their families. About 74 percent of working women aged 15 and are employed in agriculture, according to the International Labour Organisation.

The 2014 Global Gender Gap Report published by the World Economic Forum ranked Pakistan as the second worst country in the world in gender equality after Yemen.

Many women are employed informally on low earnings and with limited protection, with women's agricultural wages falling to an average of $1.46 a day in 2012 from around $1.68 in 2007, said the ODI in its recent Rural Wages in Asia report.

On top of the meager wages, women laborers also tell labor activists that landlords or managers will sometimes try to cheat them of their rightful money because they cannot read the records. Sometimes bosses sexually harass them.

Heat stroke, snake bites, exposure to pesticides and cuts on their hands from handling the rough cotton bolls are other hazards of their daily toil.

Khatoon and others have started bringing their school-age children to check the books, or tie knots in the edge of their colorful saris to count how many days they have worked.

"Even though they can't read the numbers of letters, they can say I have worked one day for each knot," said Javed Hussain, the head of the Sindh Community Foundation, which aims to improve the socio-economic conditions of communities and has trained 2,600 women in skills like bargaining and labor rights.

Muhammad Ali Talpur, the director of the government-linked Pakistan Central Cotton Committee, says owners are sympathetic to the workers' problems but warns paying much higher wages may drive Pakistan's cotton farmers out of business.

"Cotton producers are being squeezed by low prices and producers are having a hard time to meet their costs," he said.

Global cotton prices have fallen, hitting a five-year low this summer due to slowing demand from China, a glut in the market, and growing popularity of manmade fibers.

Pakistan produces about 13 million bales a year from a world total of about 119 million bales. This year the government has already bought one million bales to try to shore up the price.

Hussain said the Sindh Community Foundation talks to small landlords and trains workers how to read market prices, trying to ensure there is negotiation, not confrontation.

He said the bigger landlords weren't usually willing to negotiate over wages and there was no legislation protecting casual agricultural workers but small owners did often sympathize with their workers.

Karim Ullah, who owns a small cotton farm near Meeran Pur, agreed to pay his workers $3 per day this year but said he couldn't raise wages further unless cotton prices rose.

"We pay wages according to the rate at which the cotton is sold. Only if the going price increases can I pay the pickers more," he said. "Also, I'm just a small farmer. It's the big landlords with hundreds of acres who set the rate."

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/12/06/us-pakistan-cotton-widerimage-idUSKCN0JJ1KX20141206
Riaz Haq said…
Antenatal and postnatal care for women in rural Pakistan has improved dramatically, thanks in part to the work of women like Shagufta Shahzadi, a skilled birth attendant trained under a UNICEF-supported programme.

KASUR DISTRICT, Pakistan, 3 December 2014 – “My biggest pleasure is to see that the mother and child are both healthy after the delivery,” says Shagufta Shahzadi, 30, a skilled birth attendant (SBA) who lives and works in Nandanpura village, Kasur district, in Pakistan’s Punjab province.

“There is a huge difference between services provided by a trained birth attendant and an untrained traditional midwife. A skilled person knows how to prevent and deal with complications during pregnancy, at the time of delivery and delivering postnatal care for mother and child.”

A day’s work for Shagufta could include delivering a baby, advising pregnant women on prenatal care, walking to the neighbouring village to provide postnatal care to a mother and the newborn. She takes a lot of pride in her work and feels a sense of achievement in the fact that due to her services, there hasn’t been a case of a pregnant mother or newborn death in her area over the last year.

Looking back at the struggle she had to make throughout her life, Shagufta recalls, “I was two months old when my father passed away. My mother raised me and my sister with the little money she earned by stitching cloths. Her resources were meagre, yet she made sure that we both completed our matriculation. Thereafter, we completed our respective trainings. My sister became a lady health worker, and I became a skilled birth attendant.”

------------

“Due to the positive results of this programme, the Government of Pakistan has scaled up the initiative across the country,” says Dr, Tahir Manzoor, Health Specialist at UNICEF Pakistan. “In Punjab province, more than 5,000 women have been trained and are performing valuable services within their own communities. We can already see the positive impact of their services and are certain that it will improve the scenario of mortality and morbidity for mothers and new born children in Pakistan over the next few years.”

Shagufta believes that ensuring health and safety for mother and child is imperative.

“If mothers and children are healthy, the entire society will be healthy. The future generations will be healthy," she says. "We must try to save lives, as life is precious, and you only get it once.”


http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/pakistan_78038.html
Riaz Haq said…
The fearless policewomen taking on the Taliban: Pakistan's female volunteers put through their paces in intense desert commando training
Policewomen will take charge in police raids within anti-terror operations
More women recruited as NATO forces pull out of bordering Afghanistan
Comes amid greater co-operation between Pakistan, Afghanistan and US

Running through the arid desert in the searing heat armed with AK-47s, these pictures show the gruelling work out undertaken by Pakistan's female volunteers.
They have been put through their paces in an intense commando training to help combat the Taliban.
After the training - which took place in the Hakimabad district of Nowshera in northern Pakistan - the policewomen will take charge in police raids within anti-terror operations.
More women are being recruited to fight the Taliban as NATO forces withdraw from neighbouring Afghanistan this month.
They also have the advantage of being able to perform jobs that men cannot - in the segregated and strictly religious world of Pakistan - women can only be searched by women.

Their training also comes in the wake of signs of greater co-operation between Pakistan, Afghanistan and the US in the last week.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2870426/The-fearless-policewomen-taking-Taliban-Pakistan-s-female-volunteers-paces-intense-desert-commando-training.html
Riaz Haq said…
Forbes 30 under 30 2015

Fiza Farhan, 28
Cofounder, Buksh Foundation

Farhan runs a microfinance institution, the Buksh Foundation that bring clean energy projects to poor, rural, areas of Pakistan. The foundation has trained 135 women as energy entrepreneurs; they’ve brought solar-powered lights to 6,750 households. Its business and clean energy loans have been extended to 12,000 entrepreneurs. Work of the Foundation is supported by investors and a network of local and international donors.

http://www.forbes.com/pictures/emeg45edife/fiza-farhan-28/
Riaz Haq said…
Check out stories of Pakistani female executives Jehan Ara (P@SHA), Zeelaf Munir ( English Biscuits), Tahira Raza (First Women Bank), Madiha Khalid (Shell Pakistan), Shafaq Omar (Unilever) and Atiqa Lateef (Byco).

http://tribune.com.pk/story/836606/female-corporate-powerhouses-in-the-corridors-of-power/
Riaz Haq said…
(Bloomberg) -- In Pakistan, it’s difficult to find a more successful money manager than Maheen Rahman.
The 39-year-old turned a loss—making asset management company into a profitable acquisition target, led her flagship equity fund to the country’s top performance and positioned her new firm for what she estimates will be a 40 percent jump in client assets this year. For all that, Rahman still struggles to prove she belongs in an industry where all 21 of her rival chief executive officers are men.
“My biggest challenge has been building a reputation and trust in a market that values grey hair and being male,” said Rahman, who oversees the equivalent of $180 million in stocks and bonds as the CEO of Alfalah GHP Investment Management Ltd. in Karachi. “After all these years, I still routinely get asked why I don’t just design clothes.”
While Rahman’s rise to the top of a financial firm would have been almost unheard of in Pakistan two decades ago, her struggle to gain the acceptance of male peers illustrates the challenge professional women still face in a country with the smallest proportion of female workers among Asia’s 15 largest economies. Investors who bet on Rahman have been rewarded with a 443 percent return from her IGI Stock Fund since its inception seven years ago, 117 percentage points more than the benchmark index and the biggest gain among 34 peers tracked by Bloomberg.
Female Workforce
Rahman, who’s also the youngest head of a Pakistani asset manager, has distinguished herself with timely bets on energy and interest-rate sensitive companies amid a rally in the nation’s $71 billion stock market that outpaced every other country worldwide except the Philippines and Sri Lanka.
Pakistan’s KSE 100 Index has returned 326 percent -- or 195 percent in dollar terms -- since Rahman’s IGI Stock fund started in July 2008 as the country completed its first-ever democratic transition of power, secured a $6.6 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund and pledged to sell stakes in state-run companies. Surging consumer spending and Asia’s highest dividend yields have also convinced investors to look past power blackouts and a war with Taliban insurgents on the Afghan border.
The gains for women in Pakistan’s $233 billion economy haven’t been nearly as strong. Just 25 percent of the nation’s female population is part of the workforce, up from 22 percent in 2008, according to data compiled by the World Bank. That compares with an average rate of 52 percent for Asia’s largest economies.
Even at Rahman’s firm, she’s one of just six women among a total staff of 48.
---
Rahman, the daughter of a Unilever Plc executive, graduated from Lahore University of Management Sciences in 1997 and earned a master’s degree in economics and finance from Warwick Business School in the U.K. She began her career as an analyst at Merrill Lynch & Co. in Singapore before returning to Pakistan. She joined BMA Capital Management, a Karachi-based brokerage, as the head of research in 2007, then took on the CEO role at IGI Funds Ltd. in 2009.
IGI Turnaround
Rahman doubled assets under management in her first year at the helm of IGI and led the firm to a 15 percent return on equity -- a gauge of profitability. The gains came even as industry assets shrank 7 percent in the year ended June 2010, according to the Mutual Funds Association of Pakistan....
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Last year, she began favoring companies that benefit from lower borrowing costs, a move that paid off as the central bank cut interest rates to an 11-year low. Some of her biggest holdings in the IGI Stock Fund as of January included Pak-Suzuki Motor Co., Pakistan’s biggest carmaker, and Lucky Cement Ltd., the nation’s second-largest maker of the building material.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-03-19/woman-earning-400-in-pakistan-stocks-finds-respect-hard-to-gain
Riaz Haq said…
Duke Political Review--Examples of Pakistan's growing civil society::

Humaira Bachal started teaching when she was twelve years old. Backed by her determined mother, who bore verbal and physical abuse for the sake of her daughters’ education, Humaira managed to go to school despite all the obstacles. Her mother would cut wood and sell it in the market just so she could keep sending her daughters to school as the men of the house were opposed to their education. In her home, in one of the poorest neighborhoods at the outskirts of the metropolitan Karachi, twelve-year-old Bachal then taught other children what she had learned at school. When she was fifteen, Karachi’s Rotary Club spotted her initiative. They provided funds so she could move this project of hers to another building. This became the Dream Model Street School. Another remarkable Pakistani woman, Oscar-winning Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy, filmed Bachal’s journey for the philanthropy Chime for Change—a campaign founded by the fashion house Gucci to further female empowerment—in a documentary titled ‘Humaira Dreamcatcher’. This documentary debuted at a concert in London where Bachal shared the stage with the pop star Madonna. The singer appealed for funds, and promised to contribute, to build a new structure that would house an expanded Dream School. Today Bachal’s school is educating 12,000 young Pakistanis. Bachal came up with an innovative way to encourage female enrollment. It was something like a ‘buy one, get two free’ offer—with every girl that parents admitted to the school, they would get to educate two sons free of cost. She has also pioneered home-based teaching for older girls and women, keeping in mind the social conservatism in the area. Humaira is a strong, independent Pakistani woman who is emancipating other women and furthering the cause of education in her community.

Another young Pakistani leader is Jibran Nasir. In the 2013 elections, he ran as an independent candidate and although he was unsuccessful, he gained the admiration of many by addressing taboo issues and through his unique campaigning—he refused to advertise himself on billboards and instead opted to spend the money on societal improvements such as fixing sewers to prove his competence. Come December 2014, the lawyer and human rights activist again rose to prominence when he took a stand against the Lal Masjid cleric, Abdul Aziz, who had refused to condemn the attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar. He was eventually joined by a few hundred more and when the cleric started threatening them, they refused to budge until the police registered an FIR against Aziz for inciting violence. Pioneering an unapologetic approach to taking on Taliban sympathizers, this attitude was fairly new to Pakistan’s civil society movement. Despite a disappointing turnout at his recent protests against the Sindh government for allowing a banned, sectarian organization to hold public rallies, and a social media campaign to defame him, the activist appears to be standing firm.

http://dukepoliticalreview.org/the-lesser-known-pakistan/
Riaz Haq said…
LAHORE: With Pakistani women often bearing the brunt of cultural barriers and inequality, the ladies-only Pink Rickshaw service has put women from Lahore in the driving seat to generate revenue for their families.

The service was launched with the intention of providing women from the lower social strata of society an opportunity to travel in comfort and at the same time giving them financial independence.

The women’s only service will also enable female commuters to travel without fear of getting harassed on the street. It aims to be a safer option as opposed to other forms of public transport.

Read: Polluting away: Mingora’s rickshaws whiz past govt regulation

As part of the initiative, the way women are perceived in the public eye will be revolutionised, encouraging other women to follow suit and enter the many male denominated professions.

“Thus, the initiative’s effect will perpetuate a virtuous cycle of women becoming self-reliant independent and productive members of the society,” states one of the objectives of the project.

Read: Gender Roles: ‘Women empowerment necessary for development’

The project informed that there is only one female taxi driver in the whole country and projects such as ‘The Pink Rickshaw’ will empower other women to open up to new opportunities and freedoms.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/859845/women-take-the-wheel-as-pink-rickshaw-service-kicks-off-in-lahore/
Riaz Haq said…
How High Can #Pakistan’s Air Force #PAF Women Fly?

http://nyti.ms/1Mi4Izf

Flight Lt. Ayesha Farooq, Pakistan’s only combat-ready female air force pilot, has become both an international celebrity and a symbol of a new Pakistan, where women are breaking barriers and taking on roles traditionally closed to them. Yet Pakistan is also known as a country where women’s place in society yo-yos up and down. For example, in the 1990s it entrusted the leadership of the entire nation to Benazir Bhutto while still resisting girls’ education and advances in women’s rights.

Given this contradictory attitude, how far can Pakistan’s female air force officers expect to go?

That’s hard to answer. The air force has been more progressive than other branches of the military. At its inception, it modeled its service environment after the British Royal Air Force. In the late 1950s, while receiving an increasing amount of American equipment and mentorship, its chiefs turned more toward the ethos of the United States Air Force, and women began serving as air force doctors and nurses.

Then, in 1977, Group Capt. Shahida Perveen joined the force as a psychologist in a prominent role; she did psychological testing for the recruitment center, then helped establish an Institute of Air Safety to research how human error led to air accidents. She describes receiving “red carpet treatment” on joining the air force, and credits Zulfikar Ali Bhutto — the prime minister at the time, and Benazir Bhutto’s father — with opening doors for women who had ambitions beyond the medical units.

Still, women remained barred from other branches of the air force until 1995, when Ms. Bhutto, as prime minister, persuaded Air Chief Marshal Abbas Khattak to think about women joining branches of the air force beyond the medical branch, “now that women were being considered for everything — thanks to her influence,” says Riazuddin Shaikh, a retired air marshal who served under Air Chief Marshal Khattak.

Female cadets were then recruited into administrative and accounting departments. They became air traffic controllers, worked in law, logistics and education. They were trained for aeronautical engineering, avionics and information technology; they played huge roles in designing specialized avionics software and managing hardware at air force bases. Despite some reservations among male officers, Air Marshal Shaikh recalls no serious adverse reactions.

---------

Eight years ago, Lieutenant Farooq’s extended family saw her choice to join the air force as an aberration from a woman’s normal path, and they tried to dissuade her, she related in a recent lecture. But, she said, she took their criticism as a challenge that drove her harder to succeed. Today, she said, she is happily married to a fellow air force officer, and her once-skeptical relatives now ask how their own daughters can join the air force.

In the force, Lieutenant Farooq was trained like the men. When fuel fumes made her nauseated her first time up in a Mishaal propeller plane, her instructor simply passed her the controls and ordered her to fly. Only later, on her first solo flight, she related, did she really feel in control in the air, with the “entire world beneath my feet.”

These days, the Pakistani Air Force eagerly trumpets her rise as a symbol of its modernity. But Air Marshal Shaikh is realistic. “It will take time before a woman can ever become the head of a branch, or even the head of the air force,” he says — the implication being that we may never live to see it. Still, growing numbers of Pakistani women view an air force career as an option, not just to serve their country but to gain the ultimate feeling of control over their lives.
Riaz Haq said…
HerCareer is #Pakistan’s first female-only online jobs marketplace

http://techin.asia/1Gnp6yM via @Techinasia

In 2012, the World Bank estimated that female participation in Pakistan’s labor force measured a measly 28 percent. This figure was one of the lowest participation rates in the region, with Bangladesh (68 percent), Sri Lanka (46 percent), and India (36 percent) all ranking comfortably higher than Pakistan. However, what is heartening to note is that the female participation rate in 2000 stood at a paltry 16.3 percent, meaning that there was almost 12 percent growth and an additional 8 million women joined Pakistan’s employment pool during this time.

The reality of the situation is that more needs to be done to promote female inclusion and participation in the Pakistani labor force. To a certain degree participation is inhibited by cultural factors; the World Bank claims over 80 percent of Pakistani women cite domestic duties as a major reason for non-participation. Others such as lack of education and patriarchal attitudes towards working females also contribute to the abysmally low figure. However, as Pakistan’s economy continues to stagnate, there are greater expectations for women to be financially stable and contribute to household expenditure. The rising trend of female participation and presence of a thriving freelance community confirm this view.

Catering to market need
“Pakistani universities produce 800,000 women graduates every year,” says Abdul Muizz, founder of female-only jobs marketplace Hercareer.pk. “Most are eager to join the workforce and be productive members of society.”

Muiz says the inspiration for launching the portal came after several years of experience in the web services industry and a desire to target a niche market. Furthermore, he wanted to create a virtual community where women would feel comfortable interacting with each other, be able to reach out to mentors for assistance and advice, and promote gender diversity at the workplace.

The founder claims the startup experienced significant early traction soon after it launched in 2013. Despite a minimal marketing budget, word of the portal spread through referrals and recommendations, with many women eager to learn more. Today, HerCareer.pk has approximately 37,000 registered users and is a profitable venture. The startup has also partnered with multinational companies like Telenor and AP Moller Maersk to promote and encourage gender diversity. It counts several high profile female corporate executives as part of its pool of mentors.

Part of the reason for the startup’s success has been clear and demonstrated efforts by employers to maintain gender balance among employees. Companies in Pakistan are slowly understanding the positive benefits this balance brings to culture, talent retention, and organizational behavior and are willing to invest more resources to ensure the right mix. However, Muizz is quick to explain that this view should not be misconstrued as bias towards a particular gender. Firms aren’t compromising on their key hiring principles or skills they wish to see in a particular candidate. They’re simply willing to cast the net far and wide, carefully screen candidates before filling a particular position, and do all they can to ensure an environment where women feel safe and protected. “There’s no special treatment,” he adds.

Jobs are just one component
Community feedback has also been vital in helping to tweak the startup’s model. Muizz reveals that the overwhelming majority of users wanted assistance in marketing themselves better and therefore appealing to employers. Some were also geographically restricted. They wanted to work, but their circumstances did not allow them to maintain a steady 9-to-5 job, and wanted to freelance instead. Acting on this feedback, Hercareer started to diversify its services, and incorporated a strong element of content marketing. Users were now using the portal to seek advice, post questions, and apply for opportunities.
Riaz Haq said…
Breaking stereotypes and driving through gender-based obstacles, Shamim Akhtar from Rawalpindi is Pakistan’s first female truck driver.

The 53-year-old single mother said “Nothing is too difficult if you have the will, however if women make themselves believe that they can’t do certain tasks then nothing works for them.”

Driving cars for many years, Akhtar decided to step out of Pakistan’s traditional domestic rule which requires women to stay home, when she saw her family going through financial hardship.

Therefore, in order to support two children at home and to cover the cost of her three eldest daughters’ weddings, Akhtar set off to take driving lessons for heavy vehicles.

“My son tells me not to drive too far, it’s dangerous but I told him that we have to earn a living. We only eat when we earn,” Akhtar said as she prepared herself to transport a load of 7000 bricks from a factory in Rawalpindi to Azad Jammu and Kashmir, a gruelling 200 kilometres trip.

An inspiration for many, she was issued a public service vehicle license, a first for a Pakistani woman- allowing her to pull trailers, drive trucks and tractors.

“Whatever I am today, it is because of the Islamabad Traffic Police training course,” Akhtar said humbly.

Further, while most Pakistani male drivers lack formal driving lessons for heavy vehicles, Akhtar seems to have an edge over the men which she uses to teach a novice.

And among many of her colleagues, her student Usman Ali too, has a lot of respect for Akhtar.

“She behaves well, and treats us like her sons. We too treat her as a mother and that is how our relationship is,” one of Akhtar’s colleagues said for her.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/959657/pakistans-first-female-truck-driver/
Riaz Haq said…
BBC News - Meet Shazia Parveen, #Pakistan's first female fire fighter http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-34427826 …

A young woman is breaking taboos in Pakistan by being the country's only female fire fighter.
It is a highly unusual job in a conservative country where millions of women still struggle for basic rights like health care and education - at least three million girls are not in school and, in many rural and remote areas, child marriage is still prevalent.
Twenty-five-year old Shazia Parveen, who lives in a small village in South Punjab, wanted to prove that women can work alongside men regardless of how challenging the job is.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan woman commando armed with H&K MP5 ensures safety of #Sikh pilgrims from #India http://www.indiatimes.com/news/world/this-pakistani-female-commando-stood-guard-as-indian-sikhs-visited-nankana-sahib-on-gurupurab-247886.html …

Last week, a Pakistani female commando was spotted at Wagah railway station, standing guard as Indian Sikhs boarded the train to visit Nankana Sahib on the auspicious occasion of Gurupurab. With a Heckler & Koch MP5 no less.

Several hundred Sikh pilgrims took a special train to arrive in Pakistan to attend the three-day long festivity commemorating 547th birthday of Guru Nanak.

At a time when India is grappling with the menace of intolerance, this photograph shows how humanity knows no communal discord. As Daily Pakistan reported, the message behind this powerful image is twofold. First, it breaks through the threshold that divides India and Pakistan on religion.

And second, it buries the 'stereotypes' that Pakistan's been associated with, towards its women.

While it comes as a surprise for most of us, a woman Pakistani guard deserves as much respect as any male commando should. And hats off to Pakistan for taking a giant step towards upholding communal tolerance.
Riaz Haq said…
Women nurture saplings, earn income reforesting #Pakistan with billion trees in #KP. #PTI #ImranKhan #climatechange http://fw.to/AWpdL5M

Robina Gul has swapped her needle for a trowel. Until recently, the villager from northern Pakistan got by making clothes for family weddings and religious festivals, but now she is encouraging other women to set up tree nurseries like hers that can earn them a handsome monthly income.

Gul is growing some 25,000 saplings of 13 different species crammed into the small courtyard of her two-room house in Najaf Pur, a village of around 8,000 people in the Haripur district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

"It gives me immense pleasure to look after the saplings as this has changed my whole life," said Gul, 35. "It has become a hobby for me and a source of income too."...

She set up the nursery at her home in March last year under an agreement with the provincial forest department. The government provides around a quarter of the start-up cost for poor households to set up a tree nursery, with a subsidy amounting to 150,000 rupees ($1,429.93) each over a year.


They first get black polythene bags from the forest department to fill with mud and manure, followed by seeds and training on how to sow them and tend to the trees.

"I am now getting over 12,000 rupees per month [from the subsidy], just by looking after the saplings in my home," Gul said. "I have also acquired the skills I need to grow different seedlings, and this will help me earn enough even after the project is wound up."

The provincial government is planning to spend 21 billion rupees from its budget through to May 2018, when its term ends, on a project called the "Billion Tree Tsunami." The goal is to plant 1 billion trees in degraded forest areas and on private land.

The project is part of the Green Growth Initiative launched in February 2014 in Peshawar by former international cricket star Imran Khan, who is chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, which governs the province.

The initiative aims to boost local economic development in a way that uses natural resources sustainably, with a focus on increasing clean energy uptake and forest cover.

The government has turned forest restoration into a business model by outsourcing nurseries to the private sector, including widows, poor women, and young people. This provides the government with saplings to plant, as well as green jobs for the community.

At the same time, illegal logging has been almost eliminated in the province following strict disciplinary action against some officials who were involved. Other measures include hiring local people to guard forests and banning wood transportation.

According to government data, Pakistan has forest cover on 4.4 million hectares (10.87 million acres) or 5 percent of its land area, while the current rate of deforestation is 27,000 hectares per year, one of the highest in the world.

The forestry sector contributed $1.3 billion to Pakistan's economy in 2011, or around 0.6 percent of GDP, while employing some 53,000 people directly, according to Global Forest Watch.

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, individuals interested in setting up a small-scale nursery of 25,000 plants are selected by Village Development Committees.

The provincial government guarantees to buy the saplings they grow, according to Malik Amin Aslam, adviser to Khan and global vice president of the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

"The government provides seeds and all relevant technical assistance to the beneficiaries, and then buys back one-year-old saplings at a fixed price of six rupees per seedling," he said.

So far, there are 1,747 private and 280 government-run nurseries in the province, with a planting stock of 45 million and 165 million saplings respectively, he said.

Aslam said the government had planted 115 million saplings so far and sown seeds for 300 million more at a cost of 1.5 billion rupees, with a survival rate of over 80 percent ...
Riaz Haq said…
BBC News - #Pakistan's Female CEO and Most Successful Investment Banker Maheen Rahman on breaking gender barriers http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-35468487 …

Pakistan's finance sector is dominated by men but the country's most successful investment banker is a woman.
Maheen Rahman ranks fifth in Forbes 'Top 40 under 40'.
Pakistan correspondent Shaimaa Khalil went to meet her.
Riaz Haq said…
A #Pakistani girl's boundary-breaking motorbike journey across #Pakistan's length & breadth @CNNTravel http://cnn.it/1nEUnar
Zenith Irfan's father used to dream of leaving his home in Pakistan to travel around the world on a motorbike.
His early death meant he never fulfilled his wish.
As his eldest child, Irfan decided to take up the challenge -- and along the way smash stereotypes inPakistan as a female biker.
The 21-year-old student from Lahore, northeast Pakistan has become a fearless rider in the past two years, traveling through regions of the conservative country where it's taboo for women to venture out unaccompanied, let alone on two wheels.
But the transformation didn't come easy to her.
In 2013, when her younger brother bought a simple bike with a small 70cc engine, her mother urged him to teach Irfan how to ride and encouraged her to finish her late father's ambition.
"At the beginning it was a big struggle for me," says Irhan. "I was so confused about how to manage the gear, the clutch, the brakes.
"It was very confusing and frustrating but then I got the hang of it."
She began using the bike to run errands around Lahore.
In June last summer, she decided to venture further afield with a six-day solo trip through the Azad Kashmir region, a disputed region in northeastern Pakistan that borders India and China.
"I want to go to Kashmir because I've heard so much about it," she adds.
"They say 'Kashmir, Jannat E Nazir,' meaning it's a paradise on earth.
"I don't want to be that person who just sees it in pictures -- I want to go and experience it for myself on my motorcycle," says Irfan.
She traveled first to Pakistan's capital, Islamabad, then rode against stunning backdrops of mountains, rivers and lush landscapes to Murree -- a suburb located on the southern slopes of the western Himalayan foothills.
From there she rode on to Pakistan-administered Kashmir's capital Muzaffarabad.
Then she continued through the region's forested Neelam Valley with picturesque towns and villages like Sharda and Kel.
"When I was on the road, it was like a coming together of my mind, body and soul," she says of being out of the congested cities. "I felt free.
"I could meditate properly. I really felt different, very emotional and liberated."
Buoyed by the success of her first long distance trip, in August 2015 she decided to go even further, biking 3,200 kilometers from Lahore through North Pakistan up to the Khunjerab Pass on the border with China.
On arrival, she was pleased to be told that while foreign female riders had previously traveled there, she was the first Pakistani motorcyclist the locals had met.
Over the course of 20 days, she had traveled to places including Deosai Plains -- one of the highest plateaus in the world -- and Chilas, a very conservative small village where residents hostile to outsiders threatened her with rocks.
Her main concerns were about road accidents as she motored alongside trucks on treacherous roads.
The ever-present danger wasn't enough to stop her.
"I'm not so fearful because I know that if death has to come, it'll come anyway even if I'm at home," says Irfan.
"I can't avoid it. I can't obstruct my dreams because of a fear of death and accidents."
Riaz Haq said…
Three women boxers from #Pakistan competing in #SouthAsianGames2016 in #India http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/pakistans-women-boxers-look-up-to-mary-kom-as-their-role-model/1/595028.html …

Three Pakistani women boxers - Khoushleem Bano, Rukhsana Parveen and Sofia Javed - are on the verge of scripting history on Indian soil, when they step into the ring for the very first time.

The three pugilists credited the biographical sports film on five-time world champion and Indian boxing icon Mary Kom as the biggest influence which has inspired them to take up a career in boxing.
"We have been watching Mary Kom and it (movie) has really influenced us," the trio, donning their tracksuits with the Pakistani flag embroidered on it, told IANS.
However, the young Pakistani boxers admitted that it was not an easy journey for them initially, when they informed their family and friends about their decision to take up boxing.
"There are a lot of anti-groups who don't accept us. Initially, even our family and friends were not happy with us. But now everyone is supporting, be it our government or the boxing federation," Khoushleem said.
In fact, the trio picked up boxing only in the early part of 2015 and were trained by their coach Nauman Karim - a bronze medallist at the 2003 World Boxing Championship - at Lahore, Islamabad and Peshawar for the multi-national sports event.
"We stepped into the boxing ring just eight months ago. I know it will be tough to fight with an experienced boxer like Mary Kom and others, but our coaches have trained us well to fight in the ring," Khoushleem said.
But the 23-year-old, who hails from the scenic valleys of Gilgit-Baltistan, is eagerly looking forward to meeting Mary Kom in the boxing ring.
"I know it will be tough to fight with an experienced boxer like Mary Kom. But I am sure I will learn a lot from her in the boxing ring," Khoushleem who will be competing in the fly-weight (51kg) category, said.
Rukhsana, who was member of the Pakistan World Cup Kabaddi team which won a bronze medal in Punjab in 2014, said, "After having learnt that Pakistan has no woman boxer, I took up the challenge to fight in the boxing ring."
"The movie Mary Kom has motivated me to take up this challenge. Insha Allah (If God's willing) you never know we might go back home with a medal from here," the 60kg category pugilist from Multan said.
Sofia Javed, who also made a reference to Mary Kom, said, "I am very happy to be in India and to make our international debut here. We have been practicing hard for more than a year for this event."
Crediting her coach and family members for all their support, the 20-year-old from the Peshawar said, "We are all happy to make our debut here in India. I am mentally prepared for the competition and optimistic to get a medal for our people of Pakistan."
The trio also foresee that women's boxing will progress in Pakistan with people supporting them for taking up the challenge to wear the gloves which were once only worn by male boxers in their country.
"Women's boxing will surely progress by leaps and bound in Pakistan. A lot of people have helped us. Our government, boxing federation and our coaches have assisted us with an open heart to fulfill our dreams," Rukhsana said.
Appreciating the Pakistani women boxers for being influenced by her biography, Mary Kom asked Khoushleem, Rukhsana, and Sofia to "keep fighting and never give up halfway". She also hoped that the three Pakistani ladies will do well on their international debut.
"They need more motivation. If they need my help they can always come to my (boxing) academy (at Manipur)," the 2012 London Olympics bronze medallist said.
Riaz Haq said…
Yasmin Khan wins #Taekwondo gold for #Pakistan at #SouthAsianGames2016 in #India http://nation.com.pk/sports/14-Feb-2016/yasmin-wins-taekwondo-gold-for-pakistan-in-sag …

Pakistan’s Yasmeen Khan won lone gold medal of the day for Pakistan in Taekwondo in the 12th South Asian Games on Saturday. 16-year-old Yasmin, who came from US along with her father 7th Dan Sohail Ali Khan, who is also head coach of Pakistan taekwondo team, to represent Pakistan at SAG. Yasmin won Gold Medal in Taekwondo under 46kg category.
In other events, Pakistan’s Kaleem Ullah was the only medallist other than Indians as he won silver medal in men’s air pistol event. Pakistan also managed to win silver medal in men’s air pistol team event as well while Pakistani women shooting team managed to win bronze medal in pistol team event.
Apart from these heartening performances, it was the worst day for Pakistan in boxing and Kabaddi. There were lot of eyebrows raised from different quarters regarding poor selection of male and female boxers for the event but no heed was paid, as Doda Khan Bhutto-led Pakistan Boxing Federation enjoys unlimited backing of Pakistan Olympic Association President Lt Gen(R) Syed Arif Hassan, who had closed his eyes and keeping mum on streamlining boxing affairs. Parallel federation led by Doda had inflicted huge damages to Pakistani boxing for the last several years, but no one bothers to seek explanation from Doda and his close aides.
It was highly poor day for Pakistani boxing history, as defending champion in 56kg Weight category, Naimat Ullah, who had promised to defend his title, was beaten in the first round by completely unknown Sri Lankan. Naimat was already carrying left eye injury, which he received during training in Pakistan. The punch of the opponent landed on his same injured eye and blood started to pour out, which left judges with no option but to stop fight.
Mohib Ullah did manage to win his fight against Bangladeshi opponent in 49kg weight category and reached into the quarterfinals. Tanveer also won his fight in 75kg weight category against Sri Lankan opponent, Gulzar lost in 64kg weight category fight against Bhutan boxer. It was another black day for Pakistan Kabaddi as male team lost to India 8-9. Same old story was repeated in women kabaddi as Pakistani women lost to India 25-56. What was the purpose of sending those players, who doesn’t even know the basics of kababdi. Sources present at the venue informed The Nation that people were laughing at Pakistani players.
Sisters were made captain and vice captain. It was hard to believe that Pakistan Kabbadi Federation had sent kabbadi team or school-going girls were picked to represent national team. PKF secretary Rana Sarwar should be held accountable for selecting well below par both male and female teams, which had brought huge embracement for the country.
While Pakistan contingents started to arrive back home after going through pain and agony, it takes them around 48 to 50 plus hours to reach Pakistan. Squash team players had arrived back home, while gold medal winning hockey team also left for Pakistan on Saturday.
India stood atop with 268 medals (156 gold, 85 silver and 27 bronze), way ahead of second placed Sri Lanka 163 (25, 55, 83). Pakistan were at third with 81 medals (9, 27, 45).
Riaz Haq said…
Excerpts of Architect and sociologist Arif Hasan in the News:

http://tns.thenews.com.pk/state-way-course-correction-arif-hasan/


Pakistan is no longer what it was 25 years ago. There have been huge social, political changes. And these are not considered when dealing with policy.
There has been an eclipse of feudalism. Led by the collapse of the local system of commerce, governance, the panchayats, the jirgas, the patels, the numberdaars. They are no longer present. Moreover, the state has not tried to fill this gap. As a result of this change, many things have happened.
In the rural areas, the link between caste and profession has broken. The village artisans who provided services through barter system today work in cash. They have migrated to urban areas. The rural areas are entirely dependent on the urban produced goods. That is a very big change.
Another change is mobility. People move all over for trade and commerce. Where once roads used to be empty, today they are full of trucks. The Anjuman-e-Tajiran in various cities/towns has become an important political player. They are in constant negotiation with the state.
Women have emerged out of nowhere in public life. This trend is rapidly increasing. They dominate the public sector universities. Gender roles have changed. Extended family is disappearing.
All these changes require new society values and new governance structures, so that they can be consolidated.

All the reasons described above. Our population has increased 600 per cent since independence. There is technology/invention, cash has replaced barter, there are new varieties of seeds, farm sizes have become smaller, and the landless village labourer cannot afford the village’s dependency on urban produce.
Since 2000, over twenty universities have been established in small towns of Pakistan. Those who are studying in these universities are men and women from surrounding areas and villages. We have more people who are educated now. TV has also contributed in changing the values. Court marriages have increased. Migration abroad has also contributed to change in values. According to our study, migration and remittances have caused the breakdown of the family system.
All these factors have contributed to this change. Furthermore, you cannot close a country off from changes that are taking place all over the world. All these factors may lead to turmoil unless we can support them.

Our so-called Islamic values are being violated all the time. We see roadblocks (protests) against injustices and women are active in these roadblocks; be they against karo-kari, excesses by the wadera, water shortage or anything.
These things were unheard of before. It shows that the society is fighting back. They are fighting back conservatism with contemporary values.
Media projects a lot of injustices against women, but they do not project the changes taking place, nor are they projecting the role models who are challenging these traditional barriers. Role models, too, are just individual cases, like Malala.
The problem is that not only the state, even the opinion makers and academia are not grasping these changes. They are constantly dealing with conditions, not with trends. Societal changes need to be understood, articulated and brought into consciousness. Right now, these are not being articulated at all.

Who says there is no space for dialogue? Nobody is stopping people from reaching out. We are in a trap. We keep talking about jihad, cruelty of the state and society, and no doubt all this is there. We are talking about all this in the framework of nostalgia.
The past was a period of elitist politics. This is a period of populist politics. Karachi was the way it was because it was colonial port city being governed by colonial elites. Today, it is run by populist political parties.
The past was a very oppressive system, and it went on because people used to accept the oppression. Now there is freedom, most importantly, freedom to choose. The only thing is that people do not know what to do with this freedom.
Riaz Haq said…
More from Arif Hasan:

http://tns.thenews.com.pk/state-way-course-correction-arif-hasan/

The institutional imbalance has harmed Pakistan. This imbalance is located in the very foundation of this country, which has been a consistent actual and perceived threat from India. And India, too, has done everything possible to help with the development of this perception.
No, it is not on its way to course correction. Our political establishment is far too weak, corrupt and very much involved in seeing its class interests served.

The list would be: (i) A general depoliticisation of police, to whichever extent it is possible; (ii) Provision of housing for low-income groups. It is doable; (iii) The development of union councils as effective service providers. A Karaciite should not need to go to his religious or political organisation to get a birth or a death certificate done, or admit his mother to a hospital, or get a friend released from police custody. All this has to come under the purview of the union councils, and a Karachiite should have access to its secretariat. These measures would go a long way in making Karachi peaceful.

Right now 72 per cent of Karachi’s population is engaged in the informal sector. Karachi cannot survive that way. We need institutions to manage this. We need to have proper services for them, the industrial sector needs to be developed, you need to have a better organised services sector. We have minerals in the land around Karachi. Instead of giving this land to the Bahrias and the DHAs, this land should be turned into an agriculture zone which should provide for the city.
The most important requirement is good governance; a system that ensures that the needs of the people in such a large city are met.
Riaz Haq said…
Social change in Pakistan: a conversation with Mr Arif Hasan
BloomsburyPakistan organised an event, ‘Social change in Pakistan: a conversation with Mr
Arif Hasan’ on May 11, 2015.

The migration from rural areas, along with global influences from informal capitalism, forced
huge changes in the character of urban areas as well, particularly in katchi abaadis. Once
these abaadis were purely working class settlements, women did not work, the informal
sector worked only within these abaadis, and language reflected social hierarchy. Now, these
are no longer working class settlements: global communication technologies have flooded
them, women have educated themselves and are working in service sectors, and people have
developed a strong sense of identity and aspirations that they did not have before. If we take
the age group from 15 to 24 as an illustration, the effect of these changes can be observed. In
1981, 39% women and 17% of men in this age group in Karachi were married; extrapolating
the 1998 census shows that less than 18% of women and less than 6% of men are now
married. As the demand for education increases, a huge network of private schools has
emerged. As children of this generation grew up, many new universities were established,
both in public and private sector.

A very powerful trend that captures various aspects of these changes is the significant rise of
court marriages. In 1992, there were 10-15 marriage applications per day. By 2006 this had
risen to more than 200 per day and by some estimates the number now stands at around 800
per day. This rise indicates changes in family structures, weakening of biradari system,
heightened consciousness of individuality and personal aspirations.
Just as in rural areas, these progressive changes are being resisted in urban areas as well by
conservative forces which have joined hands with religious elements and use informal
economic power – land mafias for example – to retain power. The religious element received
a huge support from the state as well during the Zia era which saw state suppression of
student politics, artistic activities and political dissent. As a result, the overall tenor of society
has remained conservative with a rising anti-western/modern discourse. Yet, beneath the
surface a process of individualism and freedom continues, as reflected in the figures for
education and marriage choices. One way in which many young people, women in particular,
have negotiated these dynamics is by adopting conservative religious symbolism – the veil,
for example – while continuing to participate in modern life.

Despite the generally pessimistic picture painted above, Mr Hasan remained optimistic about
the future. He saw the current struggles as a necessary phase in social transformation, and
expressed the belief that human spirit for freedom has awakened in the younger generation,
particularly women, and in the medium to long term this spirit will overcome conservative
resistance. His approach was a good example of Gramscian words that “I'm a pessimist
because of intelligence, but an optimist because of will.”

http://nebula.wsimg.com/e1220c34bb211727621e460d11b3f9a5?AccessKeyId=D38F223A1FE944D1A306&disposition=0&alloworigin=1
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan: Women trained in motorcycling for mobility as part of government-supported program @AJEnglish

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2016/09/pakistan-women-trained-motorcycling-mobility-160908035855157.html

Women in Pakistan are getting on their bikes in a bid overcome the barriers that limit their mobility and ultimately widen economic and gender inequalities.

Under Women on Wheels, a government-supported project, 35 women who had been trained to ride motorcycles participated in a rally on Tuesday in the city of Sargodha, in Punjab province.

Launched in January this year, the initiative encourages women to become independent, and reduce their reliance on male relatives for day-to-day activities, as well as getting to school, college or work.

Tuesday's event was attended by Ingrid Johansson, the Swedish ambassador, representatives from UN Women Pakistan, local police and provincial officials.

The rally resulted in a rare sight. It is something of a taboo for women to ride motorcycles in Pakistan, a common form of transport for men, in cities and the countryside.

As dozens of women raced through the district in the Punjab on their motorcycles, their message was clear: We will be independent.
Riaz Haq said…
I attended Silicon Valley book launch of Pakistani-American Saqib Mausoof's "The Warehouse".

The Warehouse is set in Pakistan's federally administered tribal area (FATA) that has seen a powerful Taliban insurgency since the US invasion of Afghanistan.

The author's novel's protagonist is Cash (Syed Qais Ali), an insurance company adjustor from Karachi who ends up in Waziristan to survey damage in a warehouse fire.

During discussion at the launch event at PACC last Saturday, Sept 10, 2016, Mausoof said he saw many FATA women attending Namal University in MIanwali that was founded by PTI Chief Imran Khan.

Namal University is located close to Pakistan's tribal areas where women have traditionally not benefited from higher education.

Mausoof saw several women from FATA wearing veils using computers and developing software in information technology classes at Namal.


Fyza Parviz, originally from Peshawar but currently in SF Bay Area, confirmed that she too is seeing many veil or hijab wearing Pashtun women from KP's rural areas attending colleges and universities.

Fyza Parviz originally hails from Peshawar Pakistan and has been living in the Bay Area for 14 years. She is a Software & Electrical Engineer by profession and loves to read, write, attend events, and create literary experiences. She is also the Web Producer for the Annual Bay Area Book Festival in Berkeley. She is currently developing an engaging Online Social Platform for writers and readers. Her short stories, essays, and reviews have been published in PaperCuts Magazine and LitSeen.

Here's a news story from last year's graduation ceremony that feaured Imran Khan as keynote speaker at Namal:


Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Imran Khan on Sunday attended the convocation ceremony of Namal University at Mianwali.

Imran Khan, while addressing the ceremony gathering, welcomed the Parents of the students hailing from Waziristan and also extended his congratulations to the parents whose children earned Bradford degree.

Imran Khan, in his message to the students, said that those people had never failed, who stuck to their aim, adding that unfortunately quality education in Pakistan was not accessible to poor’s segment of the society.

http://dailycapital.pk/ik-addresses-namal-convocation-ceremony/

Riaz Haq said…
Wearing a pretty floral headscarf to match her dress, Pakistani's first female commercial truck driver certainly stands out among her colleagues.
Shamim Akhtar, 53, from the city of Rawalpindi, is breaking down barriers by becoming the first woman in her field - but the practical widow and single mother-of-five was just trying to make ends meet when she took up her unique career.
'If you have the will, nothing is too difficult,' she said in an interview with Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty. 'If you believe you can't do anything, then you will accomplish nothing.'


Ms. Akhtar needed a way to support her two underage sons and pay for the weddings of her three adult daughters when she took up driving professionally.
She already knew how to drive a car - unlike in nearby Saudi Arabia, it is perfectly legal for women to drive in Pakistan - but it is still quite unusual for women to work outside the home in the Middle Eastern nation. As of the end of 2013, only 24.4 per cent of Pakistani women work at all, according to Pakistan's Federal Bureau of Statistics.
After taking eight months of driving lessons for heavy vehicles, she was eventually issued a public service vehicle license, which allows her to pull trailers as well as drive trucks and tractors. It was the first license of its kind to ever be issued to a Pakistani woman.

'I am able to do this now because of the Islamabad Traffic Police training course,' she said.
While it can be difficult for women to break into male-dominated fields, and many men in the area still firmly believe that a woman's place is in the home, Ms. Akhtar's skill and humility have helped her earn the respect of her colleagues.
'At first we had doubts, but when she started driving the truck, our minds changed,' one said.
Another added: 'She behaves well, and treats us like her sons. We treat her as a mother. So that is our relationship.'

However, she still faces some discrimination in the workforce. Recently, she passed a driving test to apply for work on a new bus line in Islamabad - but she was told that, despite her qualifications, they had no plans to hire women.
There are also dangers on the road for a woman, which one of her sons worries about: 'My son tells me not to drive too far, it’s dangerous. But I told him that we have to earn a living. We only eat when we earn.'
Ms. Akhtar continues to plug away, though, and is encouraging other women to strive for equality as well.
'My message to my fellow women is to try to do something all the time,' she said. 'Don't believe you are weak and can't do anything. We are capable'


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3247869/Mother-five-Pakistan-s-female-truck-driver-hopes-new-career-encourage-women-peruse-equality.html#ixzz4MXdn3a9Y
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Pakistan's first female truck driver has a message to the women of her country: "Nothing is too difficult." Shamim Akhtar hopes to be a role model after becoming the first Pakistani woman to get a driving license for heavy vehicles. But in a country where men dominate the roads, the journey to gender equality can be a bumpy one. (Produced by Siraj Zaheer and Stuart Greer)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2rLPyyp4hCA
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan’s women-only #universities are 'progressive' spaces. #EducationMatters #genderparity https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/pakistans-women-only-universities-are-progressive-spaces … via @timeshighered

Women’s universities in Pakistan are providing a positive and “progressive” space for female scholars and students, one of the authors of a major UK study of female academic careers has said.

The existence of women-only universities has divided Pakistan’s academy since the first such institution was established in 1998, with critics claiming they pander to religious extremists and help to entrench gender segregation in the Muslim-dominated state.

However, the single-sex institutions have grown significantly in number in recent years. Twenty-two of Pakistan’s 161 universities are open to female students only, although they have both female and male faculty.

Victoria Showunmi, lecturer in education at the UCL Institute of Education, said she was impressed by the positive environment she found at the institutions she visited during a three-year British Academy-funded project on the academic careers of female staff.

The study, carried out with University of Leicester education academics Saeeda Shah and David Pedder, interviewed 40 female academics at both mixed-sex and women-only universities in Pakistan. In addition, almost 500 women responded to a questionnaire on challenges to career advancement.

In light of Dr Showunmi’s visits and the responses to the project, the UCL academic concluded that Pakistan’s single-sex institutions were overwhelmingly positive for both academics and students.

Describing her visit to Fatima Jinnah Women University in Rawalpindi, she said the institution “never came across as anything but a progressive space”.

“There were stories of some leaders holding some people back [for promotion], but it was the same type of story that we hear in the UK,” said Dr Showunmi, who presented the results of the project at the British Educational Research Association’s annual conference in Leeds last month.

“I am, of course, looking at it through my own lens as a black female UK academic, but it came across as a very good place for women academics to progress,” she added.

Dr Showunmi said the study, which involved annual visits to universities in Lahore, Rawalpindi and Islamabad between 2012 and 2015, as well as reciprocal visits to the UK by Pakistani academics, had shattered many of her preconceptions about female academics in Pakistan, who, she said, were very keen to travel abroad as well as gain advancement in their own country.

“Many of them aspired to do or had done two or three years in a different country, often sponsored by their government,” said Dr Showunmi, adding: “How many female academics in the UK go abroad for their PhD?”

Many of the barriers to academic promotion raised by women were also flagged by men, such as the lack of an embedded research culture and excessive teaching loads, the study found.

Women did face specific challenges, such as male-dominated leadership groups and family responsibilities, although these could also be cited by UK academics, Dr Showunmi said.

“It was refreshing to hear the conversations, as we could have been listening to academics in the UCL staff room,” she explained.

“There was a different religious context, but many were the same issues of work-life balance or difficulties in trying to access resources faced by [female] academics in the UK," she added.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan's female #cricket star Sana Mir is blazing a trail — but there's still a lot of work to do http://www.pri.org/stories/2016-10-21/pakistans-female-cricket-star-blazing-trail-theres-still-lot-work-do … #womenslives

by Caroline Beeler

I’m an American — and the only thing I knew about cricket until about a week ago was that they take a break for tea in the middle of the match.

So when the most famous woman in Pakistani sports agreed to show me how to throw (or bowl, actually) a cricket ball — it was a little embarrassing.

Evidently, I bend my elbow a bit too much, Sana Mir tells me.

Mir is the captain of the Pakistani women’s cricket team and at age 30, she's already a veteran. She hands me back the ball — it’s like a small baseball.
“Just keep this elbow straight, and bring this hand as straight as possible," Mir says. "Better! Yeah?”

We’re at the Lahore Country Club. Behind us, pitchers are running toward batters and hurling the ball overhand at them.

The batters knock them away with big, flat wooden bats.

“When I started off, there were hardly any girls playing cricket, so it was on the streets with my bigger brother ... where I learned,” she adds.

Mir’s father was in the army, so they moved a lot. And every time they did, she had to prove herself again to the neighborhood boys.

“All those tests that I had to give, in every city and every team, show that I have got cricket in me," she says. "[It] made my belief stronger that I am better at cricket than many other things."

And in Pakistan, that means something. The sport is huge here. Imagine the popularity of football, baseball and basketball all rolled into one, and you’ve got cricket.

In 2003, Mir gave up a spot at an engineering university to pursue cricket full time. She got a push from her father.

“He said that we have got a lot of female engineers, we don’t have a lot of female cricketers,” Mir recalls.

Since choosing sports over academics, Mir has helped build up Pakistan’s first professional women’s cricket team. As captain, she’s led the team to wins in big international tournaments and against neighbor and longtime rival, India.

Up-and-coming bowler Maham Tariq attributes a lot of the team's success to Mir’s leadership.

“I have no words to express — she’s so amazing," Tariq says. "In fact, on the field and off the field, her attitude, she’s so always motivated. Playing under her captaincy, I think I can’t ask for more.”

But Mir says she’s most proud of how her team’s performance has affected the country off the field.

"There are two kinds of perceptions we have been able to change. One is that Pakistani women can’t play cricket, or any sports. This was the perception we changed inside Pakistan," she says. "Outside Pakistan, a lot of people thought that women are not allowed to do stuff in Pakistan. So that is another perception that we have been very proudly able to change.

Even though it’s getting more acceptable for women to play cricket, it’s still not exactly easy.

There are no dedicated fields for women. They don’t have the same cricket clubs as men. Women’s participation in all sports is low here — no Pakistani woman has ever won a medal at the Olympics.

Mir says supportive families who encourage pushing boundaries are key to moving toward gender equality.

“These girls are here not because these girls wanted to change something, but their families, their fathers, their brothers, their parents, their mothers wanted to change. So this is something that’s really encouraging for me to see,” she adds.
Riaz Haq said…
How a teen #Saudi girl singer found her voice and her freedom in #Pakistan. #Music http://www.pri.org/stories/2016-10-28/how-saudi-singer-found-her-voice-and-her-freedom-pakistan … #womenslives

She moved from her home in Saudi Arabia to Pakistan six years ago to study computer engineering. For Yaqub, it meant freedom from Saudi Arabia’s stricter Islamic laws.

And it’s in Lahore where she started singing — in public — at her university.

At just age 19, Yaqub was discovered by music producer and mentor Xulfi — imagine Simon Cowell, except nicer. She started as a backing vocalist for Xulfi’s television music series, "Nescafé Basement."

Then she started recording her own music.

“I knew that I could sing, but I never thought I’d be taking it forward as a career because I’ve come from a very conservative place. It’s been frowned upon, being in showbiz,” Yaqub explains.

Working on one of the country’s most popular TV shows got her exposure.

And doing a cover from her favorite band helped her move from backup singer to headliner.

Her stunning version of Coldplay’s hit, “The Scientist,” has been streamed tens of thousands of times.

“I really, really admire Coldplay. It’s one of my most favorite bands," says Yaqub. "They really inspire me because, if you listen to their very first album, it’s original. It’s all them. You can feel that there is nothing in there that’s composed to please people so much, and that’s the reason I like it so much.”

But Yaqub says she is done with covers. She’s writing her own music. Her new EP is called "Échapper" — the French word for "escape."

She says the inspiration came from her desire to escape when her family put pressure on her to move back to Saudi Arabia after she finished her degree in computer engineering.

She was desperate to stay in Pakistan.

“I knew that I wouldn’t be able to pursue my music in Saudi Arabia, and I wouldn’t be able to live as freely as and independently as I do in Pakistan. So that was the inspiration behind the EP — because I just wanted to escape that prison-like feeling.”

She was able to convince her parents to let her stay in Pakistan and pursue music.

She spends her days working for a Pakistani music streaming site. The rest of her time is spent writing and recording music in her cozy apartment above a pizza place.

But split between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, Yaqub says that she feels like she has two lives.

“I know that in Pakistan I’m just myself. I’m just who I want to be. But I know that in Saudi Arabia, I’m what my parents expect me to be, what my parent’s friends expect me to be or my relatives want me to be. So in that sense, Pakistan is a place where I can be myself,” she explains.

She is quick to add that her parents are supportive. And that her dad approves and encourages her.

"I’ve asked [my dad] a million times, 'Do you want me to stop? If you tell me to stop I’m going to stop.' And he says, 'No I don’t want you to stop, I just want you to be happy and do what you want to do,'" Yaqub says.

And, at least for now, Pakistan is where she’s happy.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan army fights tribal zone insurgency with needles and thread. #FATA #Taliban #skills http://www.thenational.ae/world/south-asia/pakistan-army-fights-tribal-zone-insurgency-with-needles-and-thread … via @TheNationalUAE

MIRANSHAH, NORTH WAZIRISTAN // Major General Hassan Azhar Hayat makes an unlikely trailblazer for women’s liberation.

A battled-hardened commander in the Pakistani army, he has spent the last eight years in the rugged tribal zone of North Waziristan, a notorious stronghold of the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

From his base in the main town of Miranshah, he speaks about how more than 800 of his men have died in the two-year operation to bring peace to the region.


But as he hops into his car for a guided tour around town, his war-weary tone lightens up as he talks about his new counter-insurgency tactic. It doesn’t involve guns or tanks, but needles, thread and mixing bowls. And the opening salvo will take place at a newly-built school, which will soon be running embroidery and cooking classes.

"We’re hoping to get women to enrol so that they can go on to set up their own boutiques and maybe even cafes," beams Gen Hassan. "Women didn’t used to run businesses in this part of the world – we’re trying to change that."


Whether any local menfolk will try to enrol in the classes remains to be seen. Gun-loving and religiously conservative, North Waziristan’s tribesmen are not known for their interest in sewing, much less for sharing classrooms with women.

All that, though, may now be about to change.

For by introducing these remote corners of Pakistan to the values of the 21st century, the army hopes to challenge the very culture that gave the militants a foothold in the first place.


North Waziristan, a region of jagged, lunar mountains on the Afghan border, is a case in point. It lies in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas – or Fata, the government’s acronym for the vast chunk of north-west Pakistan that has never submitted to their rule, or anyone else’s.

The origins of the Fata stretch back to the 19th century, when even the British Empire found the local Pashtun tribes too fierce to control. Ever since, they have been largely self-governing, with tribal jirgas, or courts, replacing the law of the land.


But when Taliban and Al Qaeda militants flooded over the Afghan border after the US-led invasion in 2001, that hands-off approach helped North Waziristan become a terrorist safe haven. Not only did locals respect the militants’ piety and fighting prowess, their ancient tribal hospitality code forbade them to hand them over to anyone else.

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"In the old days, this town was 50 per cent dependent on smuggling and 20 per cent dependent on terror," says Gen Hassan. "People would rent their houses to the jihadists, who’d pay well in dollars from their foreign backers. We want to get people back to humanity again, by making them useful members of society."


Thousands of families suspected of harbouring extremists are also being put through deradicalisation programmes, where religious scholars teach "the true meaning of Islam".
Riaz Haq said…
Most #McDonald's Restaurants in #India's Capital #NewDelhi Closed Until Further Notice http://cnnmon.ie/2slq93d via @CNNMoney

Finding Chicken McNuggets in New Delhi just got a whole lot tougher.
Most McDonald's (MCD) restaurants in India's capital city were shut on Thursday because their operating licenses have expired.
Connaught Place Restaurants Private Limited (CPRL), the fast-food chain's licensee in northern and eastern India, took the decision to close 41 of its 53 resturants.
The Indian partner is "working to obtain the required licenses," McDonald's Asia spokesperson Barry Shum said in an emailed statement. "India continues to be an important market for McDonald's and we are committed to working with CPRL to resolve the issue as soon as possible," he added.

News of the restaurant closure was first reported by the Economic Times newspaper, which said around 1,700 employees would lose their jobs in the process.
Shum dismissed those claims as "erroneous," saying McDonald's was told employees will be kept on and paid their regular salary even while the stores are closed. CPRL did not respond to requests for comment.

McDonald's currently has more than 400 franchises across 65 Indian cities, and the country's burgeoning middle class presents an opportunity to grow further in Asia, particularly after the firm sold most of its business in China earlier this year.
But for now, most of the Delhi stores listed on the fast food giant's online store locator in India have a big red label that reads "temporarily closed."
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan's First Female Police Chief Breaking Cultural Taboos in Peshawar

https://www.voanews.com/a/pakistans-first-female-police-chief-breaking-taboos/3978519.html

Rizwana Hameed made history a month ago when she became the first female head of a male police station in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, or KPK, where conservative cultural and religious traditions often discourage women from leaving home.
Hameed has been a member of the provincial police force for the past 15 years and has participated in numerous crime investigations as well as daring raids against suspected criminal terrorist hideouts.
But after becoming the first officer to supervise a male police station in a predominantly conservative male society, she is feeling the pressure.
Tough job
"It’s a very difficult job for me," she said.
But Hameed is enjoying the job and is determined to undo the impression women are a lesser creed.
“If men are asked to take on household responsibilities and babysitting, for the whole day I don't think they can handle them. Whereas women can easily handle professional responsibilities outside the home also,” she said.
The police officer says women in the surrounding localities have been until now reluctant to enter the police station with their complaints and discuss them openly with male police officers.
“Peshawar is a closed society where women mostly confined to their homes. And even if they are subjected to domestic violence they endure it and avoid publicly talking about it," she said. "But my presence here is now encouraging them to bring problems to the police station and their number is growing by the day. And when their problems are solved they take back a message of satisfaction to their communities, which is emboldening other women to visit the police station."
Tradition
Pashtun families in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province have been traditionally reluctant to allow their women to join the police. That is why there are hardly 10 percent women police personnel in the entire province. But officials say the trend is changing because of projections in media of women police officers..
“Even some of our female complainants also ask me after their issues are addressed whether they can join the police and I sit down with them to explain the process,” Hameed said.
Police station chiefs in Pakistan, she says, have to spend most of the time in the office, so the doors are open for complainants all the time, making family life a bit difficult even for men officers.
"But my husband and my in-laws are very cooperative with me, even though they know I am not spending enough time with them after assuming my responsibilities as the SHO," Hameed said. "I try to manage both and stay in contact with the family via cell phone because they still need my supervision in some areas."
The provincial police department is also conducting awareness campaigns in woman educational institutions to encourage them to join the force. Hameed said she believes the induction of more women will help bring down incidents of domestic violence and so-called family-honor related crimes against women in the province.
Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province has been at the forefront of the country’s war against terrorism and extremism and has borne the brunt of violent attacks. However, security conditions have improved, encouraging women to look for jobs in areas traditionally considered only for men.

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