IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, has partnered with the Pakistan Business Council (PBC), the country’s leading business advocacy group, to help improve employment opportunities for women. The initiative is part of a larger IFC effort to drive economic development in Pakistan.
Through the partnership, IFC and the PBC will show businesses how they can tap into a large – and underutilized – pool of female talent. This is IFC’s first engagement in Pakistan focused exclusively on increasing female employment. It is considered important because only 7 percent of Pakistan’s workforce are women, the third-lowest rate in the world.
“Gender equality is one of our key strategic areas and the collective efforts of PBC and IFC will further enable equal opportunities for women in the work place,” said Fuad Hashimi, executive director for PBC’s centre of excellence in responsible business. “That will help reduce the gender gap that currently exists and contribute to the growth of Pakistan’s economy.”
The PBC represents 60 of the country’s largest private-sector companies. A recent survey by the group, Gender Diversity in the Business Sector of Pakistan, found that the vast majority of its members had workforces that were less than 20 percent female.
“Our partnership with the Pakistan Business Council aims to promote female participation in Pakistan’s labor force and support the country’s economy, which, right now, is missing out on a talented pool of potential workers,” said Nadeem Siddiqui, IFC Senior Manager in Pakistan. “Investing in women is a smart solution to business challenges and, among other things, helps firms maintain a pipeline of future leaders.”
Under the initiative, IFC will train CEOs and human resource directors at PBC-member companies on how to better recruit, retain, and promote women. Through web conferences, board trainings, events and awareness campaigns, IFC and PBC will also educate Pakistan’s broader private sector on how to attract and retain female employees. The partnership is a part of IFC’s broader work to create more opportunities for women in the private sector and help business become more productive by leveraging women as an economic resource.
PBC-member companies contribute every ninth rupee of the country’s gross domestic product and nearly 20 percent of both export earnings and tax revenues.