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‘Every additional school year for Pakistani girls increases future earnings up to 10%’

By Jamila Achakzai
February 22, 2020

Islamabad : Participants of Pakistan’s Second Human Capital Summit here stressed the need for investing in the girls’ education and women’s economic empowerment as crucial to the country’s sustained growth.

While the last year’s Human Capital Summit focused on policymaking, the Second Human Capital Summit engaged practitioners, learning from insights on the ground in Pakistan. Building upon the ‘Girls Learn, Women Earn’ initiative launched in December 2019, the Summit – co-hosted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and World Bank Pakistan – marked the progress being made in Pakistan in efforts to enable girls to excel in school, and women to thrive in the workplace.

The conference was opened with remarks from Dr Sania Nishtar, special assistant to the premier on poverty alleviation and social safety, and Dr Shinichi Kitaoka, the president of JICA.

“The government of Pakistan’s Ehsaas programme has a very serious intent to drive forward the agenda of women empowerment. Ehsaas stringently follows 50% rule across the board for women inclusion in all Ehsaas initiatives including interest free loans, scholarships and asset transfers,” said Dr Sania.

“Likewise, Kafaalat that has recently been launched by the Prime Minister will ensure financial and digital inclusion of 7 million disadvantaged women across Pakistan who will now benefit from the monthly stipend of Rs2,000 along with access to bank accounts and affordable smart phones.”

Dr Kitaoka emphasised the importance of investment in human capital.

“Investments in Human Capital, such as education, health and nutrition, are inevitable for building a progressive foundation for Human Security,” he said.

The JICA president said learning from Japan’s experience, we know that countries can also enhance their Human Capital by thriving on trust and promoting the role of families and communities in national development.

"The JICA will work pro-actively to build and nurture Human Capital by leading with trust and collaborating in the areas of education, health and nutrition as key building blocks of sustained Human Security for all.”

The challenges and constraints of the education system in Pakistan to promote girls learning were discussed by the panels.

Poverty, distance from home to schools, and parental perception of schools’ safety were noted as three of the main determinants of school attendance for girls.

In the ‘Girls Learn’ panel, the speakers said young girls in rural areas are the least likely to have full access to education and the gender gap in enrolment is a persistent issue across education levels. In order to tackle these challenges, panelists showcased Accelerated Learning Programme which provides over-aged out of school children with learning opportunities for their human capital development as a good practice from within Pakistan.

“Every additional year of schooling for a girl increases her future earnings by up to 10%,” said Illango Patchamuthu, World Bank Country Director for Pakistan.

“Pakistan can use the untapped economic potential of women in the workforce and estimates indicate this can boost the economy by up to 30%, by empowering women and girls to expand their skills, access to information, mobility, and access to finance and assets.”