SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Surai Vaidya handing over the SAARC Investment
Outlook to Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe at the Women Leadership Summit 2017. Pictures by Kelum Liyange
SAARC Chamber of Women Entrepreneurship Council (SCWEC) outgoing Chairperson Shaista Pervaiz Malik says progress on women’s economic and economical representation in South Asia has not matched to the international commitments made by countries despite the fact that women have made crucial strides in formal political institutions such as local governments along with civil society activities.
She made these observations speaking at the Women Leadership Summit 2017, organized by the SAARC Chamber of Women Entrepreneurs Council held in Colombo on Tuesday.
The opportunities for women to become leaders based on merits and importance and the formal systems of leadership in South Asian countries are not conducive towards the equal representation or inclusion of women, Malik said adding that women have led political parties in countries and ministries and have been instrumental in leading social movements over the years.
“We have a long road to travel from mitigating conflicts to enhance 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.”
The 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 noted.
“The 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 region’s economies undergo rapid transformation. However at local levels, women continue to experience many challenges, disadvantages and marginalizations.
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 the 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 the fulfill aspirations associated with it due to unresolved issues between among member states. However no one can deny the fact that only a strongest SAARC can address the issues , be they political or economic.”
According to the latest edition of Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, nearly 126 million women have started or run a new business in 67-70 economies around the world.
Additionally some 98 million have established business creating jobs for themselves and their partners and workers. “The number of women owned or operated enterprises are very limited when compared with other regions like the EU , NAFTA, ASEAN. This is the area where SCWEC, women associations and business chambers can help each other.”
Speaking at the summit, SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Surai Vaidya noted that the leaders in the South Asia need to understand the advantage of having a regional bloc that helps achieve economic prosperity. (Daily News)