Gender inequality in Pakistan is reflected in the country's low rank in the United Nations Development Programme's Gender Development Index. The situation of women in the Gilgit, Baltistan and Chitral (GBC) region is comparatively worse than in the rest of Pakistan. Most of the resources are in the hands of male family members who decide the course of life for the women. This has made women psychologically and economically dependent.
Economic empowerment of women through market linkage has been a popular path for development agencies. These types of interventions require complementary inputs like providing training in various aspects of conducting business. As many women are not exposed to market conditions, without these inputs they may not be able to sustain the business activity initiated with the help of development organizations.
The Aga Khan Rural Support Program (AKRSP) started the project “Women-Only Markets” in GBC after studying the socioeconomic conditions of women there. The AKRSP identified constraints on spatial mobility and gender stereotypes as the inhibiting factors. To overcome these barriers, markets were restricted to women only.
In addition, AKRSP also provided training in nuances of managing enterprise. The case deals with the issues pertaining to the Women-Only Markets program designed by AKRSP, its shortcomings, and the areas that need attention while planning such programs.
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