Pakistan’s Vision 2025 connects a policy commitment to greater gender equality with inclusive growth. It prioritises a ‘good quality of life and high living standard for all citizens across regions, gender’ and to ‘achieve an annual average growth rate of 7 to 8 per cent that is inclusive and endogenous’ as its first two objectives (GoP 2014a).
These commitments respond to the multiple inequalities and the increasing polarization that characterise the South Asian country. Rather than indicating its economic strength, Pakistan's relatively high average income of current USD 1,290 is a reflection of the multiple inequalities that characterize the South Asian country. This is illustrated, for example, by the high incidence of poverty that paralleled even periods of high growth since the turn of the millennium. Despite international and national commitments, Pakistan is characterized by the most severe extent of gender inequalities in the areas of health, education and labour market participation as well as labour conditions in the South Asian region.
While positive economic growth rates are often assumed to go hand in hand with rising employment levels and opportunities for income-earning, growth and indicators of gender equality in Pakistan do not seem to be systematically correlated. This article explores the connection between economic growth performance and gender inequalities in Pakistan. We ask the question how empowering macro-economic growth has been and can be for women in Pakistan. The present paper addresses this question, offering a concise review of related research as well as an exploration of aggregate data on sectoral gendered employment and economic growth. Based on this it formulates tentative policy conclusions and an outlook for further research.
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