Lahore - The speakers at a seminar, organized by the Institution of Engineer Pakistan, said that empowering women leads to sustainable economic productivity and growth.

They said that state of financial inclusion in Pakistan was pretty miserable as per the Global Findex Database, as only 5 percent of the female population had any type of relationship with formal financial sector. But the number of active financial lives of women and their potential for contributing to country’s economy are higher.

The seminar was organized to mark International Women’s Day at IEP Lahore Centre. Justice (r) Nasira Javed Iqbal was the chief guest while IEP Lahore centre chairman Dr Ahraf delivered a welcome address. Other key speakers included Engineer Amir Zamir, Engineer Afia Sohail, Dr Qaisra Sheikh, Parveen Gill, Dr Arifa Syeda and Dr Neelum Naz.

IEP Lahore centre chairman Engineer Dr. Ahraf Sheikh said that March 8th, is a global day for women, celebrating social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender equality. Dr Ashraf said that this day also encourages women to reclaim their rights and use this day as a step forward in women rights’ struggle.

Justice Nasira Javed said that international Women’s Day provides us an occasion to celebrate the achievements made towards women’s progress and to take into account the hurdles that remain.

Other speakers were of the view that a few years ago, the World Economic Forum ranked Pakistan among the worst countries in the world on its Global Gender Gap report. However, the constitution of Pakistan guarantees the rights of women, but they still face discrimination on all levels. Woman in Pakistan face different challenges and suffer myriad injustices.

According to a report, around 45 percent of adult females borrowed money during the year 2014 in one form or the other from family, friends and informal money lenders. Only a fraction of these females approached banks (0.3pc). Similarly, around 20pc of females received domestic remittances and saved money for various purposes during the same period.

This is despite the fact that 35pc of women see a good entrepreneurial opportunity, according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor. These figures show that women have unserved as well as under-served credit needs- stakeholders of the formal financial sector should explore the reasons behind it.