ISLAMABAD: Former State Bank of Pakistan governor and Karandaaz Board Chairperson Dr Shamshad Akhtar said on Thursday that promotion of women entrepreneurship is the only way forward to reduce poverty and bring prosperity in the country.
She said Pakistani women today are more likely to participate in the labour force and the decision-making process than their mothers and grandmothers.
“Promotion of women empowerment will not only make Pakistan a stronger nation but will also help the country embark on the journey towards sustainable economic growth,” she said while addressing the women entrepreneurs at an award ceremony, organized by Karandaaz Pakistan to honour the women-led businesses.
Dr Shamshad Akhtar said equality and empowerment of women is an important part of the Sustainable Development Goals and is integral to all dimensions of inclusive and sustainable development.
She said no development plan can be effective unless there is a focus on women empowerment.
The former SBO governor said the commitment of all stakeholders, including policymakers, development partners and formal financial sector, along with the mobilization of sustained and responsive financing options, hold the key to the economic empowerment of women.
She said, “I believe that initiatives such as the Karandaaz’s Women Entrepreneurship Challenge play an important role in highlighting and supporting the potential of women in Pakistan.”
The renowned economist noted that according to the United Nations Development Programme, there have been important advances in gender equality in Pakistan in recent years.
Karandaaz Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ali Sarfaraz said on the occasion that the Women Entrepreneurship Challenge is now successfully entering its third year.
“We will soon be opening the call for applications for the 2019 cohort,” he announced. “We are very impressed with the quality of applications we have received this year and are confident that there are many promising women entrepreneurs across Pakistan who can benefit from this year’s programme.”
United Kingdom (UK) Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Special Envoy for Gender Equality Joanna Roper said the UK government is committed to promoting gender equality around the world.
She said the support of women empowerment is critical to building stable and vibrant economies and enabling women to reach their potential.
The UK-funded Karandaaz has signed investment agreements with seven women-led businesses so as to help small and medium enterprises in Pakistan. These include New Age Flour and General Mills, WebWork Solution, M-Tex, Lel, Noha Global, Kamal Impex and Saira Rizwan.