LAHORE  - Leading women entrepreneurs, members of the LCCI have expressed their serious concerns over the ‘male dominated’ tradition in the chamber elections, warning to boycott the balloting process if their demands are not heard and fulfilled immediately.

They planned to hold a meeting on the 21st of September at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry to further streamline their demands and put it before the LCCI office-bearers and Executive Committee. 

Being members of the chamber, the women want equal opportunities to contest annual elections of the LCCI. They also asked for 33 per cent quota in the LCCI executive bodies as it is done in the National Assembly and Provincial Assemblies of Pakistan.

In a meeting, the leading women members, Utopian CEO Syeda Asma Shah, MKR International CEO Mussaarat Jabin, Tania’s Collection CEO Talat Hafiz, Aiwa Jewellery Proprietor Tanzila Yousaf, Rung Collection owner Iffat and others discussed how to strengthen their movement to get equal opportunity for females in all upcoming elections of the LCCI.

“No law restricts women to run for open elections but the attitude of the male colleagues who run the show at LCCI is very negative and non committal towards women contesting on open seats. Women represent 51 per cent of the country’s population and are not being encouraged to join mainstream economic decision making arena. This attitude shall be detrimental for the economy of Pakistan,” they regretted. The ladies were of the common view that the way the chamber elections were being held had merely become a selection by a couple of ruling parties.

“We have not been introduced to the members who are going to contest in the chamber election at corporate and associate seats on September 23-24 leave alone taking our opinion. We have just been asked to come and vote for the members,” according to them. “Just because of our gender we are not considered important enough to be consulted on this issue,” they said, adding not only this but the nomination of two reserve seats for women was also made without taking them into confidence.

“If women are barred to become a part of economic decision making forums like the LCCI then what will be the situation of the other departments and if this tradition continues it will be very difficult to bring a positive change in the country’s economy,” said Ms Asma. She was of the view that the trend of keeping women away from the decision making authorities was one of the main reason behind women not joining the white economy.

They were unanimous in saying: “We will not stop now and boycott voting on 23/24 September as a protest, and the 500 plus women members of the LCCI are united to get their legitimate rights.”

“More and more women are getting higher education as now there is open merit in the universities of Pakistan. As these women are joining the job market we see more and more women joining family owned businesses and also as entrepreneurs. Not just the LCCI but the Government of Pakistan shall have to accept this fact and change rules, policies and specially attitudes. The percentage of women-owned businesses are on the rise and they should be given their due place in policy and decision making areas.”