Unemployment in Pakistan has reached a worrying figure. During a recent meeting at the Senate, the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE) informed that 24 per cent of educated people in the country were currently unemployed. This figure is above the government reported data that puts the unemployment rate in the country at merely 6.5 per cent. It must be noted that unemployment during the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) leadership has increased in both males and females with the former’s unemployment growing from 5.1 to 5.9 per cent and latter from 8.3 to 10 per cent. The ruling PTI in its manifesto during the election campaigning for the 2018 polls had made tall claims to provide employment opportunities to the youth but the implementation of this is minimal. There are of course external factors at play, such as, the coronavirus pandemic that has further worsened the unemployment rate with businesses laying off employees to cut cost and make up for their losses. However, one of the worrying trends that the PIDE mentioned during the meeting is of the rise in unemployment rate of females. It stated that 40% of the educated women were unemployed, and this has little to do with external factors and more with internal prejudice.
The employment rate of women in the country is already at dismal state owing to the patriarchal setup in our society. At most organisations men are given preferences during the hiring process, while women are shown the door. It must be noted that even the federal and provincial cabinets lacked gender-parity when it revealed its members in 2018. There were no women ministers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan cabinets, while one woman – Yasmin Rashid – made the cut in the 23-member Punjab cabinet. It is also an unfortunate reality in Pakistan that females in many families are only educated for better prospective in marriage than to obtain better job opportunities. It is then no wonder that Pakistan ranked 153rd out of 156 countries on the gender parity index, according to the ‘Global Gender Gap Report 2021’ published by the World Economic Forum (WEF). The government not only needs to work towards providing job opportunities for all, but also advocate families to allow women in their households to work. It must also ensure a safe working environment. There is no denying the fact that many households refrain women from going out for work due to the rise in cases of harassment.