ISLAMABAD (Khyber Mail): President Dr. Arif Alvi has underscored the importance of gender-responsive policies to empower women and integrate them into entrepreneurship, recognizing that this step is crucial for building a sustainable economy.

Speaking at the ‘Rising Women 2023’ event organized by the Women’s Business Network (WBN), President Alvi highlighted the need to provide women with equal opportunities in education, employment, and politics to enable their active participation in mainstream entrepreneurship.

President Alvi called for the development of demand-driven policies that include a supportive institutional environment and workplaces free from harassment, to encourage and facilitate women in pursuing their entrepreneurial endeavors. He also stressed the importance of making information about entrepreneurship more accessible to women, as only a small percentage currently avails of the reserved quota of business loans from the State Bank, often due to a lack of guidance.

The president emphasized the implementation of family-friendly policies, such as enabling women to conduct business from home and creating a welcoming environment for them when they return to work after maternity leave. He also highlighted the need to equip women with contemporary skills, including internet usage, to meet the current global trends.

President Alvi stressed that women could become a productive workforce if given equal opportunities in all aspects of life. He noted that Islam and the country’s constitution ensure equal rights for women and support their progress. However, he expressed concern over persistent cultural norms in the country that deny women their inheritance rights.

Ambassador of Austria in Pakistan, Andrea Wicke, emphasized the need to eliminate gender discrimination and undervaluation of women’s work. She highlighted equal pay, financial literacy, and legal protection as key factors in women’s economic empowerment.

Italy’s Ambassador, Andreas Ferrarese, expressed his country’s commitment to gender equality goals and stressed that women, with equal access to resources, can bring about positive transformations in society.

Founder of WBN, Sam Ali Dada, discussed her organization’s efforts to empower rural women and enhance their lives and communities. She highlighted initiatives like the Khudkafeel Initiative and Women’s Sports Gala as catalyst programs aimed at making rural women self-sufficient.

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