Our new study tracking funding for women’s economic empowerment in Pakistan has identified 1,674 projects supported by the federal and provincial governments. These had a combined expenditure of Rs.132 billion.
Conducted by Omar Asghar Khan Foundation and commissioned by Publish What You Fund, the study found that only 100 of these projects directly supported income earning. The others supported greater economic rights for women and girls and creating an enabling environment for women’s economic empowerment. All three of these dimensions are vital for realising women’s economic empowerment. Of the projects that contributed to an enabling environment for WEE, 1,405 projects targeted Education, with a cumulative expenditure of Rs.91.6 billion.
Women’s economic empowerment (WEE) is central to realising women’s rights and gender equality. This study forms part of a broader programme aiming to improve understanding of who funds WEE, how, and with what results. It is hoped that the evidence generated by this work will help policymakers, funders, and gender advocates to support better funding approaches to advance women’s economic empowerment, especially as Pakistan begins rehabilitation efforts following the devastating floods triggered by the monsoon rains in July 2022.
“Assessing National Funding for Women’s Economic Empowerment in Pakistan” also sought to track funding for women’s financial inclusion and women’s empowerment collectives over the period 2015-20. It makes a series of recommendations for the government and civil society to improve the transparency of funding information and advance the women’s economic empowerment agenda.
The study recommends the provision of sex-disaggregated budget data to enable a more comprehensive assessment of funds allocated to women’s economic empowerment in Pakistan, and to truly understand where the money is going (and where it isn’t), and the impact it is having.
Co-author of the report, Rashida said:
“Women’s economic empowerment must be an integral part of policies and programmes to help rebuild the lives and livelihoods of more than 33 million people affected by the floods.”
The study identifies a lack of government support for women’s financial inclusion and women’s empowerment collectives, which in Pakistan are mainly supported by civil society organisations and the private sector. It calls for more government funding for women’s rights organisations.
Sofia Shakil, Director, Economic Programs at The Asia Foundation was part of the advisory committee for this study and commented:
“This study provides a great step forward in our understanding of funding for women’s economic empowerment in Pakistan. And it shows us that more work is needed to build gender-responsive policies and budgets. In the post-pandemic world, we need the data to help us advance women’s economic empowerment – both to reduce poverty for all people and achieve gender equality.”