SIALKOT-Acting Australian Deputy High Commissioner in Pakistan Dave Preston on Saturday assured Sialkot exporters of his country's full cooperation, financial and technical assistance to empower women workers in Sialkot industry. He made this assurance while addressing an important meeting held at Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) here on Saturday.  SCCI President Khawaja Masud Akhtar presided over the meeting while SCCI SVP Waqas Akram Awan and leading exporters attended it.

David Preston discussed in details issues being faced by the women workforce in Sialkot industry and stressed the need for encouraging women empowerment. He said that Australia would help Sialkot exporters to empower women workers in Sialkot industries through Austalia's Market Development Facility (MDF) institution. "When we talk about empowerment.... we talk about a comfortable and safe working environment for female workers in factories," he pointed out, adding that this direly needed step would give confidence of safety to the female workers and their families.

Dave Preston revealed that Australia's MDF would extend all sort of assistance to Sialkot exporters, especially for women empowerment. He underlined that a conducive and safe working environment for women could play pivotal role in empowering women. He also emphasised the need for concrete measures to enhance ties between private sectors of both the countries. "There are bright opportunities to develop business-to-business contacts between Pakistan and Australia," he underscored. He endorsed that creating a safe and confidential work environment for women plays an important role in women empowerment, and pledged that the MDF would support the SCCI in this matter. Dave Preston thanked Khawaja Masud Akhtar and all participants of the meeting.

Earlier, SCCI President Khawaja Masud Akhtar welcomed Dave Preston, acting deputy high commissioner of Australia and a team of the Market Development Facility (MDF). The SCCI president shed light on problems of working women and said that the SCCI, along with the MDF, could play an important role in helping women empowerment. SCCI Senior Vice President Waqas Akram Awan stressed the need for enhancing trade relationship between Pakistan and Australia.  He also requested for the MDF support in terms of Leather Working Group (LWG). On the occasion, both the SCCI and Australian Market Development Facility (MDF) joined hands to work for ensuring maximum women empowerment in Sialkot industries. Earlier, Dr Maryam Nouman, chairperson of Women Entrepreneurs Committee, elaborated the potential of Sialkot fertile lands for agriculture purposes.

She also mentioned lack of daycare centres and women specific training centres in Sialkot.