Empowering women to return to work in Pakistan

04 Apr 2023
Learn how an initiative in Pakistan is helping break down barriers and shifting societal expectations toward women returning to the workplace
Pakistani women talking outside

How important is your job to you?

In Pakistan, only 21 percent of women ever enter the workplace 1. Of those who do, many leave due to marriage, relocation, or care of elderly relatives or children. These factors also play a part in why so many women never enter the workforce to begin with.

Empowering women to return to work in Pakistan


For those who wish to return to work after a break, it can be daunting, and sometimes carries an unjust stigma due to preconceived notions of what it means to take a break from work, coupled with a lack of consideration or value attributed to work in the domestic sphere.

Too often, the transferrable skills involved in commitments outside of the workplace—as well as the drive that still exists within these women to thrive in their chosen profession—are not leveraged. In many cases, domestic work is equivalent to another full-time job that requires many skills that are often overlooked.

But Philip Morris Pakistan is spearheading an initiative called “Make Your Come Back.”

This initiative was created to ease women back into the workforce after time away. The aim of the initiative is to empower them, helping them thrive in their chosen careers, while also working to change the mindset on career breaks, for both employers and women.

Speaking about the initiative, Alina Khan, who is Engagement, Learning & I&D Lead, at PMPKL, said: “For a lot of women, there is a fear of taking a break, and that if you have taken a break—that’s it—your career is over, and you can’t rejoin the workforce.”

With applications up by 200 percent from last year, Alina has seen a surge of new applicants who want to take part in the initiative, and it’s something that she’d love to see rolled out in other countries.

“I want ‘Make Your Come Back’ to be a brand that women want to be associated with,” she says. “In the future, I would hope that we will not need a program like this, because we will have broken down barriers, and there will no longer be a stigma against taking a break.”

Pakistan Female labor force participation - data, chart | TheGlobalEconomy.com