This chapter looks at women’s labour market position in Pakistan, and examines the religio-cultural, economic and legal factors that determine and affect their career progress. The context is a long-established tradition of a lack of female participation in formal, paid employment (though many do work in a vast ‘informal sector’); a clear division in the economic sectors in which men and women are active; and a stark contrast between men and women in the labour market hierarchy. It is noted, however, that economic necessity, technological change and a trend to delay marriages are militating to promote female participation in economic activity, and that women’s empowerment schemes, examined in the chapter, will also contribute to this. Undoubtedly, these factors and interventions will make a difference to many individual women’s lives, but whether they are sufficient to promote wider change in the economic structure remains in question.
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