Economic empowerment of women falling below the poverty line has to be our primary objective, if we were to achieve gender equality and accelerated economic growth in South Asia,” said Amjad Hussain B. Sial, Secretary General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).
The Secretary General, as the Chief Guest, made these remarks addressing the Inaugural Session of the Tenth Annual General Meeting of the SAARC Business Association of Home-based Workers (SABAH) in Kathmandu today. Chief Patron of SABAH, Chandni Joshi; Chairperson of SABAH; UN Resident Coordinator; and Head of UNWomen in Kathmandu also addressed the Meeting.
The Secretary General stated, “During SAARC Summits, our leaders have underscored the need to improve the social and economic status of women. The resolve of our leaders to empower women is manifest in SAARC’s Social and Economic Agenda aimed at promoting their economic and financial emancipation.”
SAARC Secretary General Addressing the program
In his Address, the Secretary General referred to the SAARC Social Charter which he defined as “one of the major initiatives taken by SAARC.” The Charter incorporates a broad range of targets to be achieved across the region for empowering women. “Another such important initiative is the SAARC Gender Policy Advocacy Group (GPAG) that aims at promoting gender equality and empowering women,” he said.
“As we are aware, women who are working in the informal sector are the ones who are facing hardships and challenges, while their contribution is not recognized formally. Against this backdrop, the establishment of SABAH is a positive step in creating opportunities for home-based women workers in the region,” the Secretary General asserted.
SABAH is the first pilot project funded by the SAARC Development Fund under its Social Window. The project that lasted for six years from 2009 to 2015 was intended to empower home-based workers through economic self-sufficiency by harnessing their indigenous skills for producing market-oriented products.
The Secretary General further said, “It is very heartening to note that SABAH today has been able to establish itself as an important entity in South Asia. In essence, SABAH is contributing to the promotion of the spirit of SAARC at the grassroots level in South Asia.”
According to a press release issued by SAARC Secretariat, in concluding his remarks, the Secretary General stated, “SABAH has actually developed a model for poverty alleviation. It is in this context that I wish to encourage development partners to collaborate with SABAH in reaching the unreached with a view to alleviating rural poverty at a faster pace.”