The Political Economy of Women's Entrepreneurship Initiatives in Pakistan: Reflections on Gender, Class and ‘Development’

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This paper presents a critical feminist political economy of women’s entrepreneurship promotion in Pakistan. Women’s entrepreneurship is the new development mantra that has captured the imagination of global institutions, policymakers, business organisations and academia alike. We argue in this paper that this focus on entrepreneurship should be located, on the one hand, within the gendered political economy of Pakistan, and on the other, as part of the broader project of transnational business feminism (TBF), which works to frame gender equality as ‘smart economics’ and as compatible with the neoliberal agenda of privatization, deregulation and financialization. Drawing on primary research conducted on a women’s entrepreneurship training programme in Pakistan, this paper goes on to evidence how one such programme is designed and delivered and critically interrogates the impacts of this programme on those it is supposed to empower. The findings of our research point to tensions between the global discourses that explicitly inform projects like the one we study and the implementation of programmes in specific local contexts, troubling the assertion that there is a smooth equation between entrepreneurship, economic growth and women’s empowerment.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Article number10.1080/09692290.2018.1554538
JournalReview of International Political Economy
Early online date7 Mar 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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