Annual awards for enterprising women announced

ISLAMABAD – Human Development Foundation and Centre of Information Technology on Saturday announced annual awards for enterprising women as they launched E-Women in a ceremony.

The campaign aims to help Pakistan propel forward to join the Fourth Industrial Revolution. E-Women will let women making things at home and learn to earn selling their products all over the world with payments processed through PayPal and other digital payment facilities, eliminating middle men, said a press release issued.

Opening the launch event, HDF CEO Azhar Saleem stressed supporting women entrepreneurs helps the Human Development Foundation realize its objective of social capital development to address multidimensional poverty. He said women participate only in 22 percent of economy activity versus 68 percent men which is sad, considering the world is moving into the fourth industrial revolution characterized by local production and consumption facilitated by computing and digital communications. This calls for greater capacity building at the local level while women are the key to this change.

Executive Director HDF Saeedul Hassan announced highly collaborative Annual Enterprising Women Awards to acknowledge and celebrate their success.

Hassan shared that 1.7 million people benefit from the economic development program of HDF as it facilitated 221,928 with disbursement of Rs3 billion and training over 12,000 people in vocational and technical skills.

The HDF has more than 700 joint ventures and its works have benefited more than 10,000 women. Other objectives of the E-Women campaign are to promote awareness about the significance of women economic leadership by collecting and disseminating transformational stories. E-Woman will create workable spaces for women to learn, earn and serve as enterprising women at multiple levels and promote women-led indigenous and technological solutions to alleviate poverty through an inclusive and progressive process of social enterprise development.

CEO Centre of Information Technology and founder of E-Pakistan Ammar Jaffri stressed that the E-Women initiative is fully aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). He warned that Pakistan risks increased digital divide if equal importance is not given to women, adding that almost all 17 SDGs focus on human resource development and half of them involve women. He stressed the digital divide will increase in five years instead of being reduced. “We need to teach them how to be economically productive and help them earn a living. So let her work. She can do wonders,” he further said. He explained that the E-Women concept urges to learn, earn and serve.

Program Manager Economic Development HDF Azhar Nadeem, Educationist Ayesha Fazal Ur Rehman, Assistant Professor Allama Iqbal Open University Dr Afshan Huma, senior journalist Mian Khudayar Mohla and civil society representative Mubashar Ikram also addressed the event dilating upon issues in women empowerment and the need to engage women in economic activities.

The speakers said women are holding up half of the sky. The statistics in Human Development Index report 2016 illustrates that the women in Pakistan constitute 48.6% of the total population. The global citizen study reveals that 90% of the females reinvests into their families, compared to just 30-40% by men.

According to the UN Population Fund, an empowered woman has a sense of self-worth. She can determine her own choices, and has access to opportunities and resources providing her with an array of options she can pursue. She has control over her own life, both within and outside the home and she has the ability to influence the direction of social change to create a more just social and economic order, both nationally and internationally.

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