Watch a welcome video recorded for the contest winners by CIPE Deputy Director Jean Rogers. Also available on Dailymotion.
In Pakistan, the contemporary image of women in the media is one that is filtered through a number of prisms. Women are rarely portrayed as strong political or economic actors, and mainstream media tends to promote negative stereotypes of women. But some Pakistani women are emerging to challenge the way they are covered in the media, believing that this directly impacts how they are treated in society.
Uks Research Centre, an organization dedicated to gender equality and women’s development in the country, recently marked the occasion of International Women’s Day by partnering with APNS to host the first annual “Women in Media” awards. These awards recognize women journalists in Pakistan whose work has generated better awareness and understanding of the fact that positive media content can and does bring about positive social change, especially in the realm of women’s development and gender equality.
In addition to the “Women in Media” awards, Uks also used the occasion of International Women’s Day to launch their new guidebook, Powerful Women – Powerful Nation, which will serve as a training tool and guide for journalists to conduct gender-sensitive reporting and journalism in Pakistan.
EmprendeAhora participants at the inauguration of the 2012-013 EmprendeAhora program. (Photo: EmprendeAhora)
Entrepreneurship and business ownership is becoming an increasingly attractive career path for many young women in Latin America — with the help of programs like the CIPE-supported EmprendeAhora entrepreneurship and leadership courses in Peru.
In recent decades more and more women have begun to enter into the labor market and formal private sector, leading to an increased productivity for businesses and higher economic growth rates. As former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton mentioned at a recent conference, between 2000 and 2010, women’s participation in the labor market in Latin America and the Caribbean grew by 15 percent. Without such growth, the World Bank estimates that the level of extreme poverty in the region would be 30 percent higher. These facts demonstrate the importance of women actively participating in the formal economy.
Nevertheless, such participation is not always easy. Would-be women entrepreneurs have to overcome many obstacles in order to achieve economic independence. In the case of Latin America and the Caribbean, as in many other regions, certain obstacles make it difficult for women to enter the formal private sector or become entrepreneurs. While in some cases legislation can create unnecessary hurdles, many times obstacles come in the shape of family members, societal norms, or even a lack of confidence that causes women to underestimate their own entrepreneurial capacity.
CIPE board chair and Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council President and CEO Karen Kerrigan is actively involved in many efforts to empower women, particularly through entrepreneurship. As we celebrate International Women’s Day, here are some of her insights on increasing women’s political and economic participation around the world.
CIPE: Some of the key aspects of women’s empowerment – political, economic and civic – are not fully understood around the world, especially when it comes to the inherent linkages between all three. How do you view them? Why do you think they are important and interconnected?
Karen Kerrigan: The voice and full participation of women in all realms – political, economic and civic – is essential to building and sustaining an inclusive, innovative, and opportunity-driven environment for countries and societies. Government policies and inequitable laws, for example, may erect roadblocks for women who want to start businesses or pursue certain careers. Similarly, economic opportunities and growth are limited for all citizens when a nation fails to harness the energy and value of half of its human capital assets.
Watch an International Women’s Day welcome message from CIPE Deputy Director Jean Rogers.
Today CIPE celebrates International Women’s Day — but really our work on women’s empowerment is a year-round effort.
This week, we have posted a number of stories about women’s empowerment and women’s economic and political participation (with more to come). Here are some others from the past few weeks that you might have missed:
Chamber professional development attendees at a session in Lahore in 2011. (Photo: CIPE)
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.
Ahmad and BWCCI certainly fit that bill, having built an organization in less than ten years from two dozen members to more than 3,000, providing training to over 1,500 women entrepreneurs to improve their business skills, and taken numerous women business owners on trade expositions to allow them to establish trade links with potential partners.
Most importantly, BWCCI has kept the focus on policy advocacy to improve the business environment for its members, to allow them to flourish and to move from microenterprises to the small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) level. In particular, BWCCI has worked on the issue of access to finance for women-owned business, as well as access to marketplaces around Bangladesh.
The CIPE Development Blog provides coverage of the Center for International Private Enterprise and its partner network at work -- highlighting successes, drawing out lessons from failure, and exploring the broader issues of political and economic development. For more information visit CIPE.org.