The recent SAARC seminar on developing effective policies for women entrepreneurship in the SAARC region, which was attended by women representatives from the eight member states, was timely given that half the total region’s populations are women, and who are considered the most vulnerable to social and economic changes.
Today, majority of the percentage who are branded economically poor and socially vulnerable in the region consists of women and children—a stark reminder that we still have not been able to share our economic progresses in a wholesome front.
It is heartening to see our ladies deliberate on a host of issues pertaining to challenges faced by women small and medium entrepreneurs (SMEs). It also revealed that women in the region are still confronted with myriad problems, especially in countries where women are still considered inferior to their male counterparts.
A participant voiced an archetypal problem of still being stereotyped and not being able to compete with their male counterparts as there wasn’t a level playing field, especially in the business and corporate sector. There were also women who said that their roles were still considered ‘confined in the four walls of the homes’ and that coming out to do business and participating in economic activities were men’s forte.
This is appalling. Definitely wrong! Why mustn’t our womenfolk share and reap the benefits of our economic prosperity which we so dearly boast of having happened in our region of late? South Asian economy has risen, no doubt, but it would be the biggest failure on our part if we aren’t able to share these rewards with our women and children.
It is time that every government bring the issue of women and children to the fore and create an enabling field for them to prosper economically and socially. We must chart out women-friendly policies and support them in all possible fields, including bringing them to the mainstream economy as a vital counterpart.
While it is enriching to see that our women are constantly coming forward in all aspects of life, there still is a need to do more as millions of our women and children are still backward and languishing in poverty in some distant rural pockets of our countries. Focusing our plans and policies in this sector, rural, will go a long way in realizing our dreams of a better and safer future.
More importantly our ladies, who attended the seminar and will do so in numerous other high-profile ones in the future, should go back to their countries and implement the ideas so that the benefits trickles down to the most needy—our rural folks.
Let us make this our priority.