2013 is a year to remember in the history of Pakistan. For the first time a democratically elected government is completing its five-year term. Although the country suffered from issues such as terrorism, corruption, and weak governance, the participation of women in the democratic process and economy has shown some improvement. For example, in general elections in 1990-91, less than 1 percent of candidates elected to the national assembly were women, a proportion which increased to 22.2 percent in the 2008 election.
Also in the last five years, women’s business associations got a voice in the country. Until December 2006, women in Pakistan were not allowed to form women-focused business associations. CIPE worked closely with the Ministry of Commerce to enact a new Trade Organization Ordinance with provisions for the formation of women’s chambers. The election of two women members on boards of city chambers was also made mandatory.
Now there are eight registered women’s chambers in Pakistan with an approximate membership of over 2,000 women entrepreneurs and business owners. As part of CIPE capacity building program, several workshops and consultative sessions have been conducted to help board members learn tools to ensure sustainability, increase membership, and conduct effective policy advocacy.