2nd Meeting of Consultative Committee of Women Economic Empowerment (WEE)

26th November 2020, Islamabad, Pakistan: Mr. Muhammad Sualeh Ahmad Faruqui, Secretary, Ministry of Commerce chaired the 2nd meeting of Consultative Committee of Women Economic Empowerment (WEE), mostly virtually held, emphasizing the importance of gender mainstreaming and economic empowerment of women through greater participation in trade  of goods and services. He emphasised the importance of dedicated work on policy issues to ensure effective engagement with women entrepreneurs as key stakeholders, he suggested to  draft an action matrix on the basis of stakeholders input  mentioning timelines for different kinds of actions based on their nature in sequential and parallel manner. This will cover creation of a national  database of women entrepreneurs, business facilitation, ease of doing business, training and access to finance He took special interest in categorizing the sectors and maintaining the momentum of work on policy issues.

The meeting was attended via zoom by a great number of participants  leading fashion designers, Facebook, i2i, P@SHA, e-Commerce market places, women chambers, FPCCI representatives and  women chambers. The representatives of PREIA, USAID and ADB also attended the meeting and briefed the house about international best practices on women SMEs definition and E-Commerce portal, respectively. The public sector participants included TDAP (Islamabad), State Bank of Pakistan and SMEDA.

The E-commerce implementation strategy provides specific targets/actions towards establishment of an e-commerce portal for one window facilitation of e-commerce related matters and to promote public awareness for all relevant stakeholders. The functions of e-Commerce portal would be to provide simplified ,translated information about regulations and enhance  knowledge  and  understanding about e-commerce, enhance public awareness & consumer protection and facilitate implementation of nine pillars of e-commerce policy. It will mainstream women in the economic activities.

The establishment of WEE- Women Economic Empowerment Committee by Ministry of Commerce and NECC (National E commerce Council) is a positive step towards removing barriers and increase women’s participation in trade activities and commerce policy, giving it a gender lens and reducing gender disparity across trade and commerce. WEE also aims to project and promote women led businesses on international forums through government and private platforms.

The committee will work under specific sub groups to come up with recommendations according to their areas of expertise to be submitted to Ministry of Commerce for further action, within a week. Work will continue with international agencies, private sector and public sector on two streams. Policy issues that are cross cutting such as data collection and definition of women SMEs and sectoral development. Sectors included Trainings of Women SMEs, E-Health, Fashion Education, Eco System Enablers, Apparel /Designer Wear, Salon & Spa/Beauty Products, Incubators, Women Chambers, Access to Finance. Agriculture and indigenous crafts groups were also added on the recommendations of the participants.