Role of women enterprises key to economic development

Islamabad, December 21, 2017 (PPI-OT):“Given the economic opportunities and the social changes Pakistan is faced with, the importance of equipping women with the right opportunities and resources through social enterprise is essential if we are to see Pakistan as leading economy in the near future” said Mr. Sartaj Aziz, Deputy Chairman Planning Commission while addressing during launch of British Council’s report ‘Activist to entrepreneur: the role of social enterprise in supporting women’s empowerment in Pakistan’ here in Islamabad today. Entrepreneurship and social enterprise he said are being recognized as central to advancing women’s economic empowerment and social innovation by setting up their own businesses, women can become economically independent, build up their assets, and increase their financial and household security.

Mr. Sartaj Aziz said that it’s great opportunity that international organizations such as the British Council and United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) are collaborating to stimulate our social enterprise and social investment systems which will take us a step closer to fulfilling our commitments to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These SDGs are designed on three dimensions as economic, social and environmental and recognize that these dimensions are inter connected. “Contained in the DNA of social enterprises is the aim of balancing these three dimensions, and we believe that social enterprise, social entrepreneurship and social investment can play a critical role in helping to deliver on this important agenda” he added.

He said that Pakistan has one of the largest youth population in the world with 40% of the total population with about 20% between the ages of 15 and 24 and according to the latest reports, about 8.2% of the youth is unemployed whereas situation for young women is even more worse because of comparatively low literacy levels accompanied by fewer employment opportunities. In addition, millions of jobs around the world are expected to disappear due to automation so there is a dire need to cultivate a system of self-employment, which not only creates jobs but fuels overall economic activity.

Deputy Chairman Planning Commission said that the first pillar of Vision 2025 is ‘putting people first’ and we are heavily investing in growth strategies that ensure inclusive and sustainable economic development. In this regard, Planning Commission established the Centre for Social Entrepreneurship in 2015 to promote innovation and enterprise by serving as a specialist agency for the promotion of social entrepreneurship in Pakistan.

Mr. Aziz said that it is also heartening to see the rise of incubators led by dynamic individuals and universities in Pakistan as this is a step in the right direction. The private sector will need to invest in Pakistan’s future human resource for their own and society’s benefit. While extending Planning Commission’s support he said that commission remains ready to work with any such incubators who are providing a helping hand to Pakistan’s future entrepreneurships. Mr. Sartaj Aziz thanked Dr. Shamshad Akhtar, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Secretary of ESCAP for collaboration with the Planning Commission and the British Council. This collaboration will help in providing leadership, knowledge and the resources to female entrepreneurships.

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