Pakistan's younger women riding a digital wave in drive for better jobs

  • When Kainat Naz joined a women-friendly technology camp a year ago, she had no idea it might completely change her life and her views on how women can add conservative Pakistan.

    Naz, 22, had never ventured faraway from her range in Orangi Town in Karachi, one among the five largest slums of the planet , but was feeling dissatisfied together with her current teaching job.

    So she signed up for a tech programme called TechKaro, an initiative by Circle — a social enterprise that aims to enhance women’s economic rights in Pakistan — and is now working full-time for a software company.

    Naz said the course was challenging in some ways but she soon found that the ladies on the training were even as good because the men at tech skills like coding, web development and digital marketing, and also at presenting themselves at interviews. “From developing our CVs, to giving us recommendations on dressing for work, to conducting ourselves during an interview and the way to battle some sticky questions. We were groomed for everything,” said Naz.

    Women structure about 25 per cent of Pakistan’s labour force, one among rock bottom within the region, consistent with the planet Bank.

    It has set a target to extend this to 45pc, calling for more childcare and a crackdown on harassment to encourage more women bent work and boost economic process .

    In Pakistan, women represent only 14pc of the IT workforce, consistent with a 2012 study by [email protected], the Pakistan Software Houses Association for IT and IT-enabled services (ITeS).
    Gap within the market

    Sadaffe Abid, chief executive of Circle, found out TechKaro with the assistance of a couple of private foundations in 2018 seeing this gender gap, and took on 50 trainees within the first year, of which 62pc were women and 75 in 2019, including 66pc women.

    Abid, who previously worked for a micro-finance institution, said she was delighted that ladies like Naz were proving that ladies could achieve the tech world.

    “I am a firm believer that one among the foremost powerful uses of technology is to bring it to young women, especially from under-served communities, to unlock their talents, resourcefulness and creativity,” said Abid.

    “People told me I won’t find women, or women will drop call at high numbers, or after completing the course, women won’t find employment because the industry won’t be hospitable hiring this unique diverse group with no degree in computing .

    But i might say 50pc of the graduates, a majority of whom are women, have found add software companies,” said Abid, who also brought She Loves Tech to Pakistan, one among the world’s largest women and startup competitions globally.

    TechKaro is one among the newest programmes within the country aimed toward helping women crack the traditionally male domain. CodeGirls Pakistan, a Karachi-based camp , trains girls from middle and low-income families in coding and business skills.

    In 2017, a six-week camp, SheSkills, taught women everything from web development and digital design to social media marketing.

    After attending the TechKaro course, Naz found work earlier this year at an IT company earning double the salary she was getting as an educator but which meant leaving her neighbourhood, using conveyance , and dealing side-by-side with men.

    “I had never ventured out on my very own and that i was dead scared the primary time I had to try to to it, but now it’s just fine,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an interview by telephone from Orangi Town.

    “The remainder of Karachi isn’t quite the large bad wolf I’d imagined it to be,” said Naz, who navigated an app-based transit startup to scale back her time period by two hours each day .

    “It gave me tons of confidence once I asked my employers if they might have a drag with my wearing the niqab (a veil that fully covers the face) and that they said they were only curious about my work performance.”
    Work from home

    Naz said women trying to interrupt into new careers in Pakistan could face resistance not just within the workplace but reception .

    The youngest of seven, she said she had the complete support of her mother, who doesn’t work, and her younger brother.

    “But we had to cover this from my older brother, who is married and lives separately, as he was unhappy even with my working as an educator ,” she said.

    She described the course of three-hour sessions held 3 times every week for eight months as gruelling but worthwhile.

    She paid Rs500 a month for the course that involved 75 men and ladies and another Rs2,400 on bus fares to attend workshops after mornings of teaching, and sometimes spent three to four hours on homework in the dark .

    “I had thought men would be better at this, but once I was within the thick of things, I realised that wasn’t the case. Anyone can learn, if they put their mind thereto ,” she said.

    A month since the lockdown was announced thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, Naz is functioning remotely.

    “We use Zoom and Google Hangout for meetings and our tasks are placed on Trello,” she said, comfortable with the technology.

    With no time period or transport costs, she is enjoying performing from home.

    “For those women whose families don’t allow them to exit of their homes, this type of labor would be ideal. All you would like may be a computer and therefore the internet,” she said.

    Abid said TechKaro has continued its work during the coronavirus lockdown by going “fully digital” so women can still learn tech skills from home.

    “We have received applications from all across Pakistan,” she said. “Our aim is to scale this up to thousands of young women for in their success is Pakistan’s prosperity.”tech

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