ISLAMABAD: Speakers at the Women Entrepreneurship Summit (WES) on Wednesday urged the Pakistani women to come forward, believe in their abilities and grasp the space by becoming hardworking and consistent entrepreneurs, as this is one strong course toward economic independence and empowerment.

WES is part of a yearlong project titled “Women Can Do” which is supported by U.S. Embassy, Islamabad, and is implemented by Shaoor Foundation for Education and Awareness (SFEA) in collaboration with Ms. MunibaMazari, TEDx inspirational speaker, and Muhammad Ibrahim Mirza, entrepreneur and chief executive of GOAL. The project will work with 12 women-specific universities and six women-seminaries across Pakistan, including AJK.

Nine registered Women Chambers of Commerce and Industry are partners of the WCD, and their representatives also attended the ceremony.

Speaking on this occasion, Member National Assembly, Maryam Aurangzeb said women need to change their attitudesand must capitalize the opportunities that available in the country.

Women are important stakeholders of the society and without them progress is not possible, she said.

Ms. Inga Heemink, Deputy Coordinator for ASSIST, the United States Embassy Islamabad, said progress in any field of life without the involvement of women is not possible.

She said she appreciated the initiative to train young women in universities and religious seminaries on entrepreneurship skills and said the Embassy will continue to support similar development initiatives.

She added that Pakistani women are immensely capable, and have already been setting examples of excellence.“Solidifying cooperation among universities, chambers of commerce, public and private sectors will ensure that the program reaches its full potential, empowering women across Pakistan to play an active role in the country’s economy and future.”

Executive Director SFEA, Mubashir Akram said women would have to believe in their abilities and work hard for creating a niche in the society. He said discrimination in patriarchal societies against women would never stop, “but women need to recognize their rights and build their capacities to make themselves into success stories.” He also stressed greater gender mainstreaming would assist Pakistani society do better.

Consultant/Editor at Iqbal Institute for Research and Dialogue, International Islamic University, Islamabad, Ali Tariq said that Islam empowers women and an “empowered women is an asset of the society.”

Many successful women entrepreneurs from Islamabad also spoke at the event and detailed the troubles that they had to face. All agreed that resolve to succeed, and courage to face the odds helped them more than anything else. The summit was attended by women entrepreneurs, businesswomen, university students and officials from the many business organizations.

WCD involves strong Information, Education and Communication components including FM radio programs, profiling successful Pakistani and American women, print media features on successful businesswomen in Pakistan, and articles promoting entrepreneurship for women.