–Only 11 per cent of women in Pakistan utilise banking services
ISLAMABAD: World Bank Country Director for Pakistan Illango Patchamuthu on Thursday said that every additional year of schooling for a girl increases her future earnings by up to 10 per cent.
He was speaking at the second Human Capital Summit: Girls Learn Women Earn at the Pakistan National Council of Arts. Representatives from the government, academia, development organisations, commercial banks, telecom industry, startup ecosystem, fashion industry, civil society and media were present at the event.
“Pakistan could really use the untapped economic potential of women in the workforce as estimates indicate that empowering women and girls to expand their skills, access to information, mobility, and access to finance and assets can boost the economy by up to 30 per cent”, he said while addressing the participants of the summit.
The need to invest in girls’ education and women’s economic empowerment as crucial to Pakistan’s sustained growth was also highlighted.
Building upon the ‘Girls Learn, Women Earn’ initiative launched in December 2019, the summit – co-hosted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and World Bank – marked the progress being made in Pakistan in efforts to enabling girls to excel in school, and women to thrive in the workplace.
Speaking on the occasion, Special Assistant on Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety to the Prime Minister (PM), Dr Sania Nishtar said, “The government of Pakistan’s Ehsaas programme has a very serious intent to drive forward the agenda of women empowerment. Ehsaas stringently follows the 50pc rule across the board for women’s inclusion in all Ehsaas initiatives including interest-free loans, scholarships and asset transfers”.
“Likewise, another programme Kafaalat, which has recently been launched by the prime minister, will ensure financial and digital inclusion of 7 million disadvantaged women across the country who will now benefit from a monthly stipend of Rs2,000 along with access to bank accounts and affordable smartphones,” she added.
Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) President Dr Shinichi Kitaoka said, “Investments in human capital, such as education, health and nutrition, are inevitable for building a progressive foundation for human security”.
“Learning from Japan’s experience, we know that countries can also enhance their human capital by thriving on trust and promoting the role of families and communities in national development. JICA will work pro-actively to build and nurture human capital by leading with trust and collaborating in the areas of education, health and nutrition as key building blocks of sustained human security for all,” he added.
The summit also discussed the challenges and constraints of the education system in Pakistan to promote girls learning were discussed by the panels. Poverty, distance from home to schools, and parental perception of schools’ safety were noted as three of the main determinants of school attendance for girls.
In the ‘Girls Learn’ panel, it was highlighted that young girls in rural areas are the least likely to have full access to education whereas the gender gap in enrollment is a persistent issue across education levels.
In order to tackle these challenges, panelists showcased the Accelerated Learning Programme which provides overage, out of school children with learning opportunities for human capital development as good practice within Pakistan.
Another panel on ‘Women Earn’ emphasised the potential for women’s access to finance and affordable, safer transport as two key areas that can unlock women’s participation in the economy. Current research shows that only 11 per cent of women in Pakistan utilise banking services, and Pakistani women are four times less mobile than men.