ISLAMABAD - President Dr Arif Alvi has urged the need to accelerate efforts for the economic empowerment of women and to bring them into the mainstream of the national economy, adding that the lat­est Information and Communi­cation Technology tools could help in paving the way for wom­en’s financial inclusion.

He expressed these views while addressing the 1st Business Women Excellence Awards, organized by the Islam­abad Women Chamber of Com­merce and Industry (IWCCI) to acknowledge and appreciate Pakistan’s successful women entrepreneurs, at Aiwan-e-Sadr, yesterday. The event was at­tended by the Founder-Presi­dent of IWCCI, Ms Samina Fazal, President IWCCI, Ms Naima An­sari, members of IWCCI, women entrepreneurs, members of the diplomatic community and se­nior officials of the government. Addressing the ceremony, the president urged the need to economically empower women by encouraging them to par­ticipate in economic activities, improving their access to credit and finance to start their own businesses, and improving their access to branchless banking services. He said that he was a great proponent of utilizing Pakistan’s huge youth bulge by providing them with qual­ity and skill-based education to enable them to contribute to national development. He said that women, along with youth, remained the largest untapped resource, which needed to be fully harnessed for Pakistan’s socio-economic development.

The president highlighted that steps had been taken to en­hance women’s access to finan­cial services and the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) was providing business loans to women entre­preneurs, however, the num­ber of women availing these loans was low. He said that the digital inclusion of women in the financial sector could help bring financial empowerment of women as they can market their products locally and inter­nationally using the latest tech­nology tools. He called upon the members of the chambers of commerce across the country to make their chambers gender-balanced with the proportional representation of women. He said that as they were the cus­todians of trade, business and investment, therefore, they should encourage their daugh­ters and sisters and other rela­tives to come out of their homes and play an active role in run­ning the business enterprises.

Digital inclusion of women in financial sector could help bring financial empowerment of women

The President said that Haz­rat Khadija (RA) was a work­ing woman who had employed many men including our be­loved Prophet (PBUH) to carry forward her trade. This, he add­ed, should be a role model for all Muslim women. He further added that the mother of Mou­lana Mohammad Ali and Moula­na Shoukat Ali was an active po­litical figure whereas the wife and sister of Quaid Azam Mo­hammad Ali Jinnah remained side by side with Quaid-i-Azam during his entire political strug­gle to win a separate homeland for the Muslims of India. He regretted that women stopped working after marriages and it was the collective responsibil­ity of the society to encourage women to continue to work by providing them with a condu­cive and women-friendly envi­ronment at the workplace.

He said that it was unfortu­nate that in some parts of the country, women were being denied their inheritance and property rights. He appreciated the fact that Federal Ombud­sperson for Protection against Harassment was also working to safeguard women’s property and inheritance rights and was helping women get justice in case of the illegal occupation of their properties. President IWCCI, Ms Naima Ansari also addressed the occasion. She said that IWWCI was playing an active role in facilitating and en­couraging women to start their own businesses besides helping them develop linkages with the business community.

The Founder President of IW­CCI, Ms Samina Fazil said that women entrepreneurs were contributing to national devel­opment by creating employ­ment opportunities for others and paying taxes to the Govern­ment. Earlier, women entrepre­neurs from different sectors were handed over Business Excellence Awards trophies by President Dr Arif Alvi.