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Pakistan: Gender equality

By News Desk
February 18 2014




The International Women Leaders Summit was organised for working women to “learn from mutual experience and cross border exchange”, said New World Concepts CEO Yasmin Hyder, while speaking at the Movenpick Hotel on Tuesday.

The inaugural address was given by United Kingdom Senior Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office Baroness Sayeeda Warsi via an online video chat where she spoke of women empowerment leading to national economic growth.

The first female president of the Bombay Chamber of Commerce, Neera Saggi, was the keynote speaker at the event where prominent national and international spoke about empowering women in the workplace. “No matter how different we appear, there is more that unites us than what divides us,” said Saggi. address on “women making an impact” covered the importance of the role of women as nurturers and the low percentage of working women in the sub-continent, while she also shared her own experience of being a mother as well as a working woman. “If you speak from a position of strength, others have no option but to agree.”

She spoke of women empowering themselves and quoted Melinda Gates, “A woman with a voice is a strong woman. The search to find that voice can be remarkably difficult”.

Institute of Business Administration (IBA) Dr Ishrat Husain spoke of female education having the highest rate of return, stating that in 2013 out of 11 students on the dean’s list at IBA, 10 were female. He claimed that cultural barriers prevent educated and qualified women from joining the work force. “Despite having 65 years of modern, progressive education, our minds are still closed,” said Husain.

“There are certain rights that women have [in Islam] and we do live in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan,” said State Bank of Pakistan deputy governor Kazi Abdul Muktadir, explaining that Islam affords women more rights than what they realise and felt that these rights should be exercised in Pakistan. He then quoted a study that rated Pakistan second from bottom out of 136 countries, based on the female population in their workforce.

Overseas Private Investment Corporation CEO Elizabeth Littlefield addressed the conference from Washington DC and spoke of women leaders and entrepreneurs breaking through ‘infamous glass ceilings’ and ‘sticky floors.’

“46 Fortune-1000 companies have female CEOs,” she revealed. “As of 2013, 21% of parliamentarians in the world are female. However, these numbers are growing too slowly. Societies that discriminate by gender have slower economic growth.”

Habib Bank Limited company secretary Nausheen Ahmed then spoke to the conference with an aim to provide “real rather than theoretical role models” for women.

Coca-Cola Pakistan general manager John Seward dubbed men as the biggest barriers for women in the workplace. He claimed that his company has a policy of choosing female candidates between male and female candidates of equal or close to equal skills.

Originally published by Tribune Pakistan 

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