Empowering women will help South Asia | Sunday Observer

Empowering women will help South Asia

Empowering women in South Asia will have far reaching benefits on the economy of those countries.

Women need to take the lead role in the economic front where their contribution has not been duly recognized at present, SAARC Chamber of Women Entrepreneurship Council (SCWEC) outgoing Chairperson Shaista Pervaiz Malik told the Women’s Leadership Summit 2017, organized by the SAARC Chamber of Women Entrepreneurs Council in Colombo on Tuesday.

“Progress on women’s economic and economical representation in South Asia has not matched the international commitments made by countries despite the fact that women have made crucial strides in formal political institutions such as local government along with civil society activities,” she said.

The opportunities for women to become leaders based on merit and importance and the formal systems of leadership in South Asian countries are not conducive towards equal representation or inclusion of women, Malik said, adding that women have led political parties, Ministries and have been instrumental in leading social movements over the years.

“We have a long road to travel from mitigating conflicts to enhancing public and political space for women to encourage women entrepreneurship. The region has a great potential, but the region is suffering. There is so much poverty, hunger, unemployment and injustice. We all need to work together, forget differences, sit together and discuss about the future of our children.”

Women in South Asia have demonstrated active participation in political discourse by playing an active role in politics, business and many other areas. The space for women’s voice, visibility in political discourse and other activities has widened over the past five decades in South Asia where women have demonstrated a spectrum of heated political roles they can take, she said.

“Global history and international best practices have proved that regional cooperation is instrumental to ensure political stability, economic prosperity, peaceful coexistence and above all, the realization of fundamental human rights which includes the rights of women.”

According to Pervaiz, women are increasingly playing a more important role in the workplace, in other social and political spaces as the region’s economies undergo rapid transformation. However, at local level, women continue to experience many challenges, disadvantages and marginalization.

Equal access to the political spectrum and finances is essential for women and men to articulate and shape public policy solutions that ensure that diverse representation of interest in the parliament, government and decision making processes, she said, adding that women have made crucial strides in formal political institutions such as local governments along with civil society activities.

“However, SAARC is the forum to which we look up to grow people and sustainable development in the region. But unfortunately it has not been able to fulfill aspirations associated with it due to unresolved issues between and among member States. However, no one can deny the fact that only a strong SAARC can address the issues, be they political or economic. The number of women owned or operated enterprises is very limited when compared with other regions such as the EU, NAFTA, ASEAN. This is an area where SCWEC, women’s associations and business chambers can help each other,” she said.