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April 9, 2019

Women’s economic development must for political empowerment


April 9, 2019

Islamabad: MNA Ms. Shaza Fatima Khawaja, has said that political empowerment of women can never be materialised without their economic empowerment. Ms Fatima was speaking at a public-private dialogue on “Gender Focused Economic Reforms,” organised here by Center for Research and Security.

Ms Fatima said that research suggests that by giving same amount of money to a man and woman, it is the woman that makes a greater difference – in terms of better health, hygiene and improved nutritional value of the whole household. She said we are also working on bringing about gender-sensitive budgeting in Pakistan.” She stressed that there should be a change in the mindset also.

Nabeela Farman, Manager, Women Entrepreneurship Development, (Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority) SMEDA, said that people, and girls in particular, must understand that one does not necessarily have to go for a job; there is much more potential in doing business. She believed that a ripple effect has been created, as more and more young people are inclined towards entrepreneurship these days. Moreover, SMEDA has been strongly recommending, and in parallel lobbying hard, for women quota in industrial estates and special economic zones.

She said SMEDA, for the first time ever initiated business incubation centers across the country for women’s skill development. These centers were later handed over to the private sector and are doing a very good job indeed. In all this process, we found out that access to finance and accessing new markets are amongst the major hindrances for working women or women otherwise to enter into any business activity, she added. She also apprised the participants that many government departments and other organisations are doing their part of job, regarding gender mainstreaming. However, she said, there is a sheer lack of coordination among all these departments/organisations, which results in lesser tangible outcomes.

Imran Ahmad, Additional Director, State Bank of Pakistan, was of the view that the general perception of nothing being done is an exaggeration. A lot is being done, still a lot more can be achieved by pulling in more effectiveness. He observed. He told participants that one of the major impediments in the way of women economic empowerment is their lack of assets’ ownership which inhibits their capacity to convert these assets into generating some economic activity without consent of a male member in the family, ie, father, brother, husband etc.

Masooma Sibtain, former Vice-President, Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI), said that Multan Women Chamber initiated one-year financial literacy programme for business women so that women can understand and plan better. Additionally, she requested State Bank to assist in replicating the said model across the country under the umbrella of SBP.

Private sector members, representatives from think-tanks and all other stakeholders present agreed that there is a dire need to work together, public and private sector should go hand in hand but under a clear and coherent policy, which off-course requires legislation.

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