In Sialkot, seventeen chief executive officers of different companies signed the ‘CEO Statement of Support for the Women’s Empowerment Principles, during an event organized by the United Nations Entity for Gender equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women). This initiative, hosted by the Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industries, provides a set of considerations to help the private sector focus on key elements integral to promoting gender equality in the workplace, marketplace and community, through policy and action. Hence this step towards a more ‘equal’ workplace comes as part of encouraging high-level leadership to promote gender diversity and inclusive work force within the corporate sector.

Even though such advancement should be given its due credit, one should remain wary of whether this will actually solve the problem of gender inequality in the work place, rather than it only providing a superficial token of showing that they are indeed taking the correct step towards ‘development’. The CEOs by signing the statement on behalf of 11,000 employees where 18 percent are women, acknowledge that ‘equal treatment of women and men is not just the right thing to do - it is also good for businesses’. The very fact that women constitute only a meager percentage of the workforce, brings into light the dilemma of is it really equality, if there is not even equal representation present?

What this initiative seems to lack is any talk on how to create such awareness for a more equal work place, and what steps to take to ensure that there is proper execution. Here, what should be taken into consideration is the role of the Pakistani woman herself, where for her, family home and a local community is important, generally having the biggest burden of taking care of anything domestic. Rather than telling women to be more ‘confident’ or more ambitious, it is more important to talk about how workplaces need to adapt to the ‘whole person’, both women and men. This way a woman in our country will be more eager to get into the work force, knowing that they now can strike a better balance between working and spending time with their families.

A global report shows that Pakistani women still face one of the world’s worst inequalities in access to health care, education and work, where this gap can only be bridged, if we move away from the unrealistic expectation of gender equality in the workplace demanding women to be available all the time.