Businesses should set a minimum goal of achieving by 2025, one-fourth or 25 percent of women employees in the overall workforce and management roles. This, together with visible action on other Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), is critical for an inclusive economy and robust business growth in Pakistan.
This is one of the key recommendations by the Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OICCI) in its position paper on Women empowerment, titled “Increasing Women’s Inclusion in the Pakistan Economy – An OICCI Perspective.”
The position paper was presented to the Minister for Human Rights, Dr. Shireen Mazari.
OICCI President, Irfan Siddique, commenting on the key recommendations observed that “OICCI members were extremely concerned to note that Pakistan ranks second-to-last for women globally as per Global Gender Parity Report and that Pakistani women earn roughly 34 percent less than men.”
To redress the situation, Irfan added, “OICCI has compiled a set of recommendations for the government to accelerate women’s employment and career growth in the country.”
The OICCI recommendations on Women Inclusion cover three critical areas:
- Equal Opportunity for Pakistani Women
- Protection Against Workplace Harassment
- Building Inclusive Workspaces.
Giving key elements of the recommendation on “Equal Opportunity for Pakistani Women,” Sami Ahmad, Chairman of the OICCI Diversity and Inclusion Subcommittee, observed, “OICCI has urged the government to encourage businesses to set a minimum goal of 25 percent women in management roles by 2025, in all key segments for government and non-government organizations/businesses employing more than 50 persons.”
Other recommendations include giving recognition to at least one female/male leader at the national level to empower women and initiating awards for spotlighting outstanding women business leaders, along with mandating equal pay for equal work by adopting gender-neutral compensation and benefit structures to reduce the pay gap and discrimination.
OICCI also recommended granting a tax credit for organizations having female employment at the management level beyond a set threshold, and investing in public-private partnerships in education to increase the school enrollment of girls, and setting up gender-based scholarships for women in top universities.
Recommendations under Protection against Workplace Harassment suggest that the government should introduce uniformity and ease in Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for cases related to harassment in line with the best practices, and review WAHW Act to broaden its scope to include self-employed persons and others working in the same space.
Furthermore, OICCI recommends that members of the informal and agricultural sector – regardless of whether there is a contractual employment relationship between the parties – provide free legal counsel to women, men, and transgender individuals. OICCI also recommended that government-mandated sensitization training be conducted by employers/companies in Urdu and English. Moreover, the OICCI also suggested making public transport safer, educating about childhood harassment along empowering women to report harassment, and raising awareness amongst men.
Under Building Inclusive Workspaces, the recommendations urge that the government mandate the creation of daycares in workplaces with at least 50 employees and increase federal maternity paid leave from a bare minimum of 16 weeks to 6 months. Further recommending the government to govern provisions of maternity and paternity benefits to employees and most importantly revise Factories Act 1934 to allow female workers to work post-sunset, to enable women to work at factories in both day and night shifts to create greater inclusion and employment opportunities.
OICCI is the collective voice of the top 200 plus foreign investors in Pakistan belonging to 35 countries, who are the largest contributor to the economy of Pakistan, both in terms of revenue and investment and in terms of transfer of technology and best practices.