Driving women’s economic empowerment

Why this is important 

There is a vast gender inequality experienced by women in finding and securing a job and a dearth of impactful work for women in five districts of Punjab and Sindh. In Punjab, the female labour force participation rate is 19.6%, in contrast to the male labour force participation of 50.5% (PLFS 2018). In both regions, most employed women lack decent working conditions, pay and job security. Women’s vulnerability is also exacerbated by mobility issues which has restricted them in getting an official ID as proof of citizenship. Not having a  Computerised National Identity Card (CNIC) that would enable them access to vital social and financial services.  

Following the COVID-19 pandemic, the scale of the abovementioned issues has considerably worsened. Many women with basic skills are unemployed or earning below the minimum wage. Even though Southern Punjab has received some skills development support, this has yet to translate into job opportunities or eventual employment. Many slum areas in our target areas have multi-ethnic populations and a high proportion of migrant or internally displaced people. Most people in these communities are uneducated and unemployed.  

Evidence from our programmes, Department for International Development (DFID) and the wider sector indicates that skills development alone cannot graduate marginalised women out of poverty. The British Asian Trust’s Women’s Economic Empowerment programme (WEE 2017-2020) developed a comprehensive package and supported the income increase of over 7,600 marginalised women. 


Project Partners:

  • Institute of Rural Management (IRM) 
  • Hunar Foundation 
  • Charter for Compassion (CfC) 
  • Memon Industrial & Technical Institute (MITI) 
  • Kaarvan Crafts Foundation 

Duration:2022 - 2025 

Project goals  

The project aims to promote women's economic development and financial independence by enhancing access to skills, markets, networks, and services to mitigate women’s poverty in five districts of Punjab and Sindh. Impact of the project aims to reduce multidimensional poverty in households in rural and urban slum communities in Pakistan.  

Programme participants are attaining skills targeted at a specific local trade or industry and get support to enhance their existing skills to cater to the present market needs, in turn increasing their employability and earning potential. They are learning how to showcase, and prepare their products for the market, record-keeping and other essential business requirements that will help them set up and grow their own enterprise and thrive in roles within an existing business.   

The British Asian Trust is collaborating with its partners to ensure that all trainees gain access to relevant expertise that increases their resilience, particularly in business environments, along with the assurance of their validity in the current market system. These skills include the following:  

  • Numeracy, budgeting, saving, and financial planning, applicable for managing a business and a household  
  • Basic digital skills training  
  • Basic communication and negotiation skills in addition to fundamental health issues (including sexual and reproductive health and managing their mental health), conflict resolution and legal rights know-how 

What we are doing

With the British Asian Trust’s success in their projects targeted towards women empowerment, we have, in collaboration with our partners and a grant from FCDO and UKAM of £2.2m, developed an approach to the economic empowerment of vulnerable and marginalised women that goes beyond skills development to create more sustainable livelihoods through market linkages, ecosystem development, and behavioural and attitude change.

Overall, this project attends to the demand (markets, employers, buyers) and supply (technical and business skills training, knowledge, soft skills and mobility) and connects the two (jobs and market linkage) through strategic interventions. We are continuing to expand project activities to strengthen women’s social and livelihood protection with processes to improve knowledge and access to health, social and financial services.  

Key outcomes of the project include:  

  1. 4,241 women in rural and slum areas are economically empowered and are resilient against poverty  
  2. 3,805 women have increased control over economic resources and decision making