Young Women in Pakistan – Status Report 2020
In the backdrop of a global decline in population growth rates, Pakistan stands out as a country with a youthful demographic profile. The total population of Pakistan is 208 million of which 49 per cent are women (Census 2017); an estimated 29 per cent of total population in the age group 15-29 years, half of which are women portending a demographic shift from a negative sex ratio towards equal numbers. Currently with 63 per cent of Pakistan’s population in rural areas the majority of female youth is also rural. While all youth needs to be mobilized and provided opportunities for a robust, dynamic and progressive Pakistan there is an urgency to focus on young women because of the prevailing gender inequality especially as its gender inequality index stands at 151 out of 153 countries in World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Index 2020.
The Young Women in Pakistan: Status Report 2020 seeks to address gaps in the information available and current situation of young women in Pakistan with a focus on Women’s Economic Empowerment. The Report draws on the framework of economic empowerment that is a consequence of the enabling environment and young women’s individual agency i.e. the ability to make choices and decisions for one-self. The analysis of young women’s economic participation and empowerment is done along three components: Enabling environment that supports young women’s economic empowerment, security, and rights through laws and policies and their reinforcement through institutions; Enhanced economic opportunities that support young women’s access to decent work, increased incomes, financial inclusion and entrepreneurship; and Strengthening women’s agency by supporting their access to decision making and their ability to address discriminatory social and cultural norms.
The key findings presented here are drawn from an extensive review of available literature, the key individual interviews (KIIs) with decision makers, and in-depth interviews (IDIs) with young women from across Pakistan. Estimations from the Pakistan Social and Living Standards Measurement Survey (PSLM), Labour Force Survey (LFS), Pakistan Demographic Health Survey (PDHS) provide the statistical profile of young women at provincial and national level.