Like other parts of the world Covid pandemic has led to lockdown in Pakistan as well resulting in closure of many business and limiting earning sources of hundreds of people.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is one of the most hit in terms of business and economy due to corona pandemic.
Amid scarce revenue sources, women in KP decided to become a helping hand by joining their male counterparts in creating platforms to earn and run house affairs.
Shaista graduated in Economics from a government college for girls 6 years back was unable to get any job as she was married off.
After marriage she has to face strict family norms from her in-laws when it came to her desire of doing a job.
“I wanted to join a government job, but my family wanted me to get married instead. After marriage my in-laws were opposed to the idea of working women,” Shaista tells Voice of KP.
Shaista says she was interested in joining business and marketing but being from a Pashtun family, her elders were strongly against the job option, and besides local culture was a hindrance in joining a public sector field outside four walls of the house.
“I know the province is short of females in practical fields though salaries and other benefits for people in the marketing profession are lucrative, but social taboos have hampered women’s desire to find jobs in this field, she said.”
Entrepreneurship is often considered a male dominated field, however, the importance of women entrepreneurs and their contribution to the economy has recently been acknowledged widely.
Shaista’s husband owned a cloth shop adjacent to her father’s shop in the same bazaar in Peshawar cantonment. His clothing business was hit hard during lockdown and the couple was running out of their savings with no other income support system.
In such a situation Shaista came up with idea of an online startup for her husband’s clothing business.
“As I was pretty familiar with use of computer and social media, so I created a business page on Facebook, uploaded the designs of stitched and unhitched clothes, and started selling online”, Shaista told VoKP.
Describing her struggle with the idea she said that at first she was skeptical about the online business as she was a housewife with two kids which makes it difficult to manage time. Therefore, she first started online delivery service for sale of cloths to nearby areas of Peshawar, slowly expanding the business to other areas eventually all over the country.
Though the difficult pandemic period has added to hardship of poor, middle as well as business class, the lockdown has forced many specially women in KP to look for other means of earning within the cultural norms.
KP is a multi-lingual province with rich diverse culture adopted flexibility amid Coronavirus emergency by creating spaces for women empowerment.
The KP government has launched an interest-free microcredit program for women to enable them to start their businesses. The program started in December 2013, seeks to reduce poverty through self-employment and job opportunities for women. It continued for five years to bring women into the economic mainstream.
Under the scheme, the Economic Coordination Committee approved an 81 billion package in which the Rs50.7 billion support would benefit 3.5 million small businesses. Those women who want to start embroidery, sewing, online selling, and other home-based businesses can also be benefitted۔