Sewing Machines for Women

Starting a business in Pakistan, even under favorable circumstances, is not for the faint of heart.  A woman starting a business in male-dominated and deeply conservative Pakistan is downright courageous. Yet, a growing number of Pakistani women, passionate about making a mark, are attempting to do just that.  They should be encouraged.  It is not only women who benefit from entrepreneurship but the national economy and the global perception of Pakistan as a progressive nation.  Women in entrepreneurship have a far reaching impact on not just individuals but society at large.  It brings about a culture of equality in opportunity.  For the women, it builds self-confidence, self-reliance and self-empowerment.  If the husband is disabled, the family does not become destitute or dependent on social services or extended family.  If a husband is abusive, the wife is no longer hostage to social security provided by her husband or in-laws.  Women also enrich the entrepreneurial landscape.  They bring a uniquely feminine perspective, a collaborative style of management, better communication and introduce new services and products to the market.  This article addresses some of the challenges faced by aspiring and active women entrepreneurs of Pakistan and how the circumstances can be improved to facilitate upcoming entrepreneurs.


Challenges for Women

We begin with the most tacit of challenges which is societal or cultural pressure on women to focus on family, get married and limit their horizons to house work. The reason for discouragement can be as petty as the men of the house feeling threatened by women empowerment. The general belief is that women are incapable of running their own businesses and they should not be exposed to outside world (mainly to men).  To add to the seriousness, religion is often wrongly used to justify this position. Unlike men, women are not allowed to stay out of their homes for long hours not just because they have no respite when it comes to household responsibilities but also because of possible harassment or worse.

When women overcome the household hurdle, they face discriminatory practices in funding, mentoring or encouragement.  There is little or no faith that the businesses will succeed. Males outside the household refuse to accept women in positions of power. There is lack of recognition for entrepreneurs on a national level and thus few people get to motivate themselves through local success stories.  In other words, women face hurdles at every level from household to society to state.

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