Getting Harrassed on the Job

Kuni Takahashi for The New York Times
A supermarket provides transportation to female employees to protect them from harassment.

via Need Pushes Pakistani Women Into Jobs and Peril –

KARACHI, Pakistan — Dinner at Rabia Sultana’s house is now served over a cold silence. Her family has not spoken to her since May, when Ms. Sultana, 21, swapped her home life for a cashier’s job at McDonald’s.

Women here are normally forced to stay at home, but the need for more family income is changing the face of Pakistan.

“It’s not just the economic need, but need of the nation,” said Rafiq Rangoonwala, the chief executive officer of KFC Pakistan, who has challenged his managers to double the number of women in his work force by next year. “Otherwise, Pakistan will never progress. We’ll always remain a third-world country because 15 percent of the people cannot feed 85 percent of the population.”

Pakistan ranks next to last out of 134 countries in women’s economic participation in the workforce.

Nearly all of the 100 women interviewed said marriage would end to their careers. But many of them saw benefits along with the hazards.

Most women said that they had never left the house before taking a job. Many spent the first five months missing buses and getting lost. When they first arrived at work, they stuttered nervously in the presence of men.

Now they know better.

Although the number of women working outside the home is still very small, it will have a large effect on the culture.

“Girls envy us,” said Bushra, a KFC worker. “We are considered the men of the house, and that feels good.”

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