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Empowering Women At Work: Refuting Societal Norms

Submitted by on November 2, 2013 – 7:14 PM

WomenEmpowermentPic2A woman has been beautifully described by Eleanor Roosevelt in her saying , “A woman is like a tea bag, you never know how strong it is until it’s in hot water.” Likewise, a woman as a whole is responsible for several tasks as mother, sister, daughter, wife and most notably as an employed individual. Her abilities to negotiate in distress are remarkable. She shelters her family as an ironed roof. Above all, she is also biologically superior to man. Still, her respect in this universe is not praiseworthy.

In Pakistan, women are dispossessed from birth. Decisions with respect to a woman’s life are taken by her father before marriage and after marriage by her husband. This subordination has also accompanied women in employment. In the year 2008 in Pakistan, only 21.8% females had been employed (Ministry of Labor and Manpower, 2009) [1]. Hence, it’s necessary for a woman to enter into the economic activities of the society because it empowers a woman’s self and social well-being in the society.


The first and foremost outcome of women employment is physical and psychological self-development. Starting with the psychological effects, employment enhances  woman’s self-esteem and self-efficacy. Also, self-reliance, sense of control and internal strength are fortified by employment. In addition, internal strength augments a woman’s consciousness to oppose the subordination that she is suffering from since birth. Consequently, this will give her a position in the house which she so rightly deserves. Moreover, employed women are found less depressed than unemployed women, thus having a positive effect on a woman’s psychological health.


Moving on, an employed woman reports better health than an unemployed woman because of her awareness (Repetti, Matthews & Waldron, 1989) [2]. Likewise,  family planning is also affected indirectly as Khan (2007) states that “Increased women’s autonomy will have an inhibiting effect on female fertility and infant child mortality.” [12] Thus, women employment helps in improvement of physical as well as psychological health, directing to self-development.


Besides self-development, a woman starts to mature in terms of social well-being. Employment helps her in modifying her social support through co-workers which ultimately affects her self-development (as stated above) as well as her social interaction with people. Her social network increases, leads her to ventilate feelings and hence prevents her from social isolation. “Longitudinal studies have shown that social isolation and a lack of support predict early mortality” (Repetti, Matthews & Waldron, 1989) [2].


Moreover, Khan (2007) states that the status of  women  improves in comparison to men: Women in the paid work force have acquired confidence and assertiveness in taking decisions pertaining to the household. Other positive impacts were that they said they had gained more say in family matters, and some said their husbands were more considerate to them and they were more respected within the family. Further, women said there was an improved atmosphere in the home due to being economically more relaxed. [14].


Other than that, in today’s world, every basic need is becoming expensive and for a woman to meet her family needs, her first responsibility changes from house hold work to employment for earning. Furthermore, maternal responsibilities need to be met by providing children their basic need, of which education is the primary need. This need is to be met through the earnings of both partners. It is thought that women employment may have negative effects on a working mother.  Repetti, Matthews & Waldron (1989)  however, decline it nonetheless since it depends on a woman’s desire to work. To sum up, employment helps a woman to be socially well off in terms of social support, financial steadiness and a changed status in family.


Along with self-development and social well-being of a woman, a change in position of a woman in the society is the last burning and constructive result of women employment. By definition, society is made up of people regardless of gender. But in today’s world, gender inequality is still a major issue which affects women employment. Casey & Alach (2004) conclude that participation of women in paid employment has leveled both genders in the society. Moreover, when we look back into history, what do we see? A woman with no rights enclosed in a house for household work, producing children.


Today, this concept has started to vanish but still exists in many cultures where awareness is not sufficient. Changing of views is important for women employment as it gives a woman a respectable stance in the society. Many of our leaders were women like Benazir Bhutto, Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah and many others have shown tremendous improvement in the development of Pakistan. Then why are women not empowered? World Bank reports that “Countries which promote women’s rights enjoy lower poverty rates, faster economic growth and less corruption than countries that do not.


The evidence shows that education, health, productivity, credit and governance work better when women are involved” (Women in progress, 2002) [5].  Therefore, women need to step forward to employ themselves because this reduces gender inequality and helps empower women.In opposition, social and cultural factors influence women employment and breaking them is a major concern for all of them.


Culturally, a woman is expected to perform her primary role as caretaker of home and children. A man is believed to dominate and a woman, to submit. On the other hand, social support is lacking due to misconceptions related to religion and laws that bind women to carry out their primary role first. Moreover, a negative influence on women employment is the practice of seclusion and a risk of sexual harassment (Hussain, 2008) [6].


Contrary to the above stated points, religion and laws have never diminished rights of women. These are misconceptions related to religion and laws that are spread through generations. Religion and laws have always asked society and family to empower women instead of succumbing to them. In addition, although men are head of the families, this doesn’t mean that a woman is born only to do her primary role. She can be empowered and supported to do secondary roles along with the primary ones as well.


Hussain (2008) also highlights that society affects a woman’s life in increasing stress. Thus, on our part, we should focus on gender equality. Furthermore, seclusion means wearing an over-garment that covers the whole body, including the head and face” (Hussain, 2008, p. 5) [6]. Working with it, doesn’t make any difference to the quality of work. Thus, this should be allowed as a part of our tradition. Lastly, as a co-worker, it is our responsibility to protect women by respecting them and giving them their rights.


Concisely, women employment should be encouraged in order to empower women because it develops a woman’s self, social well-being and strengthens her stance in the society. This can change the world’s perception about women and encourage them to lead  life with freedom. In Pakistan, many people believe opposite of the point stated above. They need to be educated about women rights and laws, which will ultimately increase women’s status. This is high time to realize and take a step towards women employment.



1-Ministry of Labor and Manpower.ILO, (2009).Pakistan employment trends for women 2009. Pakistan: Government of Pakistan.

2-Repetti, R., Matthews, K., & Waldron, I. (1989). Employment and women’s health: Effects of paid employment on women’s mental and physical health. American Psychologist, 44(11), 1394-1401.

3-Khan, A. (2007). Women and paid work in pakistan: Pathways of women’s empowermentsouthasia research programmepakistan scoping paper. Collective for Social Science Research Karachi.

4-Casey, C., &Alach, P. (2004).‘Just a temp?’Women, temporary employment and lifestyle.Work, Employment and Society, 18(3), 459-480.

5-Anonymous.Women empowerment. 2002[25th January 2013]. Retrieved from

6-Hussain, I. (2008). Problems of working women in Karachi, Pakistan. (1st ed.). Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.



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