Chief Editor: Ansar Mahmood Bhatti

Concerted efforts must for women economic empowerment: Romina Khurshid


ISLAMABAD, SEPT 29 (DNA) – Only by economically strong women, can nation be strong, stated Romina Khurshid Alam, Member, National Assembly, while speaking at a public-private dialogue on Gender Focused Economic Reforms (GFER), organized by Center for Research and Security Studies (CRSS), Islamabad.

She further noted that the notion that women are better-off in developed countries is wrong; women are vulnerable everywhere. Gender inclusion comes through concerted efforts; government and opposition, as well as the with the active role of private sector stakeholders.

Faisal Suhail Butt, gender and trade expert from Pakistan Regional Economic Integration Activity (PREIA), invited as a keynote speaker, noted that as a matter of alarming fact, Pakistan’s ranking in Global Gender Gap Index is deteriorating over the last few years. The metric also reflects in the number of women who are engaged in economic activity, which stands at 25%. For Pakistan, to achieve its sustainable development goals (SDGs), this number has to be at least 45%. Earlier, the main problem was to sensitize policy making sphere about gender specific issues within the economic domain, but that battle is over. Now, the issue is now more about transformation of attitudes into actions and calls for institutionalization and implementation of gender inclusive approaches.

Fouzia Hussain, representing Ministry of Commerce (MoC), apprised the gathering that that Ministry of Commerce and National E-Commerce Council (NeCC) have established the Women Economic Empowerment Group (WEE). The group would aim to ameliorate the issues hampering women’s economic participation.

Nabila Farman from Small and Medium Enterprise Development Authority (SMEDA), shared that SME policy is on the table for approval and will be out in very soon. She was of the opinion that the government is doing targeted interventions for gender mainstreaming. However, the public needs to be aware of the services of offer for their benefit and facilitation.

Masooma Sibtain, Former Vice President, FPCCI, called for the robust feedback of private sector on the potential avenues for enhanced economic participation of women given the impending SME policy and Strategic Trade Policy Framework (STPF) and their importance to reduce the alarming gender gap and add to the Pakistan’s GDP by about 30%.

Mustafa Malik, Team Leader, CRSS, noted that the public-private dialogue spaces are critical to transform the women empowerment priorities into implementation. It also helps to highlight reform needs and areas in the upper and lower houses of parliament. He also shared the priority intervention areas identified in the women national business agenda (WNBA) – a policy proposal on gender focused economic reforms presented from the platform of FPCCI – along with the progress.

The participants including representatives from Ministry of Commerce, FPCCI, SMEDA, State Bank, relevant think-tanks and entrepreneurs, noted that the issue of women’s economic inclusion should not just be viewed from the financial paradigm, but also from the social and cultural lenses. Other detrimental factors – though indirect but jeopardize their independence, key to economic participation – include safe transportation, and socio-cultural deterrents. Moreover, the issues with regard to lack of information and data and must be addressed.

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