ISLAMABAD: In partnership with Texas A&M University, S&P Global, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s U.S.-Pakistan Business Council, the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad and the U.S.-Pakistan Women’s Council (USPWC) launched the Pakistan Future of Women and Work Initiative in Islamabad on September 13. The launch event highlighted a study on the impact of COVID-19 on women’s workforce participation in Pakistan, and efforts to catalyze research, public discourse, and private sector commitments to address gaps facing women amidst the ongoing pandemic.
At the launch event, the State Department’s Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Elizabeth Horst said, “Through the U.S.-Pakistan Women’s Council, the United States has been working for a decade to build bridges between the people of our two countries to support Pakistan’s sustained prosperity, benefiting thousands of women in Pakistan. Today’s initiative helps create a foundation for greater collaboration and exchange between our two countries on women’s economic advancement. When women are not part of the economy, whether in board rooms, in banks, in laboratories, in start-ups, Pakistan misses out on growth for the entire country. When women are included, everyone wins.”
Highlighting the U.S. provision of $53.1 million in humanitarian assistance and resilience programming to support Pakistan in the wake of devastating floods, U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Donald Blome said, “Just as the COVID-19 pandemic highlights the disproportionate impact on women’s participation in the workforce, the catastrophic flooding in Pakistan is a reminder that women and girls are among the most vulnerable groups during a humanitarian crisis. As the United States works to provide direct assistance to affected communities in Pakistan and to help mitigate the effects of future floods, we will closely consider the unique impacts of the current flooding and other natural disasters on women and girls.”
Dr. Raymond Robertson, lead author of the study and Director of the Mosbacher Institute for Trade, Economics and Public Policy at Texas A&M University’s Bush School, shared, “Women the world over bore a larger burden during the COVID-19 crisis than they usually do during economic recessions. Pakistan was no exception. We intend for our findings to start a conversation and shape investments to help women in the economy thrive.”
Managing Director of S&P Global in Pakistan Mujeeb Zahur announced that S&P Global will put the data to use by partnering with USPWC to host workshops in Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad to foster increased investments in women’s workforce participation. He said, “Through data, dialogue and commitments made by the private sector, the Pakistan Future of Women and Work Initiative will inform government, private sector, and philanthropic dialogue and action to address challenges women are facing in Pakistan’s economy.”
The USPWC advances women’s entrepreneurship, workforce participation and access to educational opportunities in Pakistan. Celebrating its tenth anniversary this month, USPWC is a public-private partnership between the State Department and Texas A&M University that catalyzes private sector, government and civil society commitments to foster women’s economic advancement in Pakistan, working with cooperating private sector and civil society members in the United States and Pakistan to do so.