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Business News
February 02,2017

Women economic empowerment to add 30 percent to GDP

Mehtab Haider

ISLAMABAD: Women economic empowerment will increase the Pakistan’s economy size by 30 percent, a foreign expert said on Wednesday, saying this requires change in laws and granting of ownership rights to females.

“Pakistan is missing out 30 percent GDP (gross domestic product), which could be achieved with women’s empowerment,” Arancha Gonzalez, executive director at International Trade Center (ITC) said, citing a report by the International Monetary Fund.

Gonzalez was addressing a seminar, titled, ‘She Trades’ arranged by the ministry of commerce.

Geneva-based ITC is a joint agency of the United Nations and the World Trade Organization, dedicated to supporting the internationalisation of small and medium enterprises.

“We want to connect one million women till 2020 and many women from Pakistan can become part of global initiative,” said the director ITC.

Gonzalez said the purpose of her visit to Pakistan and organising of the seminar is to work with the government of Pakistan for the women’s economic empowerment.

She said Pakistani government must enact fair policies that are gender sensitive and ensure quality and accurate data system, secure government contracts for women, unlock financial services for women and grant them ownership rights.

“Pakistan has huge potential and as Pakistan has moved towards normalcy the time is ripe for the government to work for the empowerment of women through trade,” she added.

Commerce minister Khurram Dastgir Khan said ‘She Trades’ is a global initiative that seeks to empower women through trade.

“It is a matter of pride that Pakistan, with an ever-increasing number of women entrepreneurs finding their way into global business, offers a huge potential in terms of increasing women’s participation in the international and domestic economies,” Khan added.

The minister said the seminar will go a long way in making a statement to the world that Pakistan stands firmly behind the commitments to connect half a million women to the market by 2020 and also support new commitments for connecting one million women to the market by the same year.

Minister of state for IT and Telecom Anusha Rehman said it is not the duty of a few women to work for the women empowerment.

“Instead it is everyone’s obligation to contribute in this larger global agenda of inclusiveness and women empowerment,” Rehman said. “Our government, under the leadership of PM Nawaz Sharif is religiously working on this agenda of digital and financial inclusion.”

Minister Rehman said the government started special programs under which 150 information and communication technology labs would be established to impart training to girls in coding and computing through Microsoft.

“They would be able to earn an honorable livelihood while sitting at their homes,” she added. “Similarly, we are initiating a pilot project under USF (universal service fund) for the women of underdeveloped areas and in first phase, 30,000 women registered with BISP (Benazir income support program) will be provided Android phones with balance and training to materialise the digital inclusion.”

Rehman said ministry of IT is ready to work with the commerce ministry and trade organisations to enable women of rural areas to eliminate the role of middlemen.


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