Byline: Dr Zamurrad Awan
According to World Bank Gender Data Portal for 2018, in Pakistan, 72.7 women are linked with agriculture sector, while 14.1% are attached to industry, 13.2 with services, and 25.1 are wage and salaried workers. In conservative patriarchal Pakistani society, the employed status of women can be perceived as a two-edge sword, where on one side, because of their earning capacity, they are able to maintain better living standard; while on the other, the socio-cultural structures drive them towards stereotype submissive role, in nearly all relations. This situation is more challenging for married employed women as first, they are expected to maintain a balance between their workplace requirements and house-hold related responsibilities. Second, because of their earning capability, they generally are expected by their husbands and in-laws for monetary contribution in different modes. Here, it is important to mention that in 'Cooperative Households', the financial pooling of both partners bring socio-economic uplift for families, where both share a common sense of entitlement. Nevertheless, in 'Non-Cooperative Households', the financial responsibilities are not shared, thus, one partner has to bear complete burden of expenses.
In Pakistani society, it has been observed that in the middle and low income families, mostly the 'Non-Cooperative' structures are followed, which causes friction and imbalance in matrimonial relations. Interesting to note is that given the nature of patriarchal conservative social environment, it has been noticed that wife's financial contribution under duress is normally down-played by not only her own family but also by her in-laws including the husband. It is mainly because of a perceived notion that being a male, a husband should have full control over every family matter, including house-hold finances which also include wife's income. This mind-set is further reinforced by both, families and the society. Hence, today, particularly in low and middle income families, it has been observed that at times, the sole objective of a groom and his family revolves around the financial position of potential wife and her family, in the shape of her employment or the assets she inherits. Therefore, on the basis of this sole feature, often the proposals are approved or disapproved.
Before assessing the social misgivings of married working women, it is important to highlight the socio-economic benefits they...