YES Centre Program South Punjab, Pakistan

The estimated population of Pakistan is 186 million. Due to high birth rates, Pakistan is facing a rapid population transition. The US Bureau of Census analyzed in 2010 that 62 percent of the population are of working age, but only 30.1 percent of this group take part in income generating activities.The next generation in Pakistan will face major problems as another 85 million people will enter the work force in the coming decade (GOP, 2012-13).

This uncontrolled increase in population growth creates enormous problems for the State in relation to the provision of educational opportunities, food security, health care and other necessary parameter for a sustainable development. Taking care of the immense group of youth wanting to enter the labour market will be a difficult mission.

 The engagement of women in working activities in Pakistan is widespread and their contribution ranges from the formal to the informal sector, however a majority of their activities are performed in the informal sector. Women also perform a lot of invisible activities that are not being considered as economic activities. Labor force participation of Pakistani females is up to 13.29 million out of a total labor force of 57.24 million (Labor force survey , 2010-2011), although women constitute about half of the total population in Pakistan. Young people, especially girls and young women don’t have enough options for skills development training and in the same way encounter quite substantial difficulties in finding work and employment opportunities with decent wages

 Social and gender discrimination, lack of access and control over resources, limited educational opportunities, weaker family support, absence of self-actualization, and little entrepreneurial orientation are some of the impediments classified as barriers to the growth of women entrepreneurs in Pakistan. Women are faced with a number of such limits, i.e. finances, cultural orientation, family set-up, market access, and orientation, which are limiting them to become a part of the business world. And yet the increased participation of women in business and other aspects of life in developed and developing nations is making them an emerging force, that policy makers cannot afford to ignore. The world’s modern economy, and in fact democracy, depends on the participation of both genders.

 The impact of these factors is the continuous negation of the equal status of women and their role in society. This situation is even worse in South Punjab areas of Pakistan. Especially, in the rural areas, where women are not allowed to access education or to join the work force, as their role is limited only to procreation of children.

 Economic empowerment of youth, especially of girls and young women, with a particular scope of decent employment is the key way to confront gender-based discrimination and violence, a fact that we learnt during realization of several women-centred projects in different parts of Pakistan. To combat the trend of structural discrimination, we strive to increase the knowledge, skills, confidence and financial assets of youth, especially of girls and young women, by empowering them through developing their capacities and increasing their access to economic activities, as a substantial contribution to poverty reduction.

 The program´s overall goal is to empower youth, especially girls and young women, by strengthening their skills and voices for economic self-reliance to take a leadership role in poverty alleviation initiatives in South Punjab, Pakistan. This is achieved by developing technical and management skills for enhancing disaster resilient income opportunities among young people in the fashion industry in Multan district, South Punjab, through improved access, training and management of micro-enterprises. It will also include training in women´s rights, gender equality, self empowerment tools, management, business planning, sustainable fashion/garment production, community based disaster risk reduction, basic accountancy and bookkeeping. The direct target group of this project are 430 youth (100% young women). The age range of the target groups is approx. 15 – 22 years with a minimum of accomplished class five to graduate in school and college. The indirect target beneficiaries of this project are 2,580 family members.