February 23, 2023
United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai joined Pakistan’s Minister of Commerce Syed Naveed Qamar in Washington, D.C. in a discussion on gender equity and equality and women’s economic empowerment during the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement Council meeting. They affirmed a mutual commitment to advancing programs and policies that elevate women’s role in Pakistan’s long-term economic growth.
Supplier Diversity and Inclusive Supply Chains
The Trade Representative and the Minister for Commerce recognized the importance of women for sustainable economic growth and expressed their support for inclusive supply chains and supplier diversity. They noted that integration of Pakistan’s women-owned businesses into value chains will be critical to promote competitiveness and supply chain resilience and expressed their intent to support upcoming training programs for women-owned businesses and corporate buyers led by WEConnect International. Minister Qamar conveyed that the Commerce Ministry and Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) are both committed to boosting women’s business enterprises and, to this end, two trade fairs are being organized this year. HER HUNAR, a sales network for handicrafts made by women, in collaboration with USAID, will include 120-130 women-led micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), focusing on the northern region of Pakistan to increase supplier diversity. During the 18th Organization of Islamic Cooperation Trade fair, 56 member states will participate to promote women entrepreneurs.
Mentorship and Peer Learning
Underscoring the value of networks for success, the two countries expressed their intent to create mentorship and education opportunities for women workers and entrepreneurs. Ambassador Tai and Minister Qamar highlighted their successful collaboration through the Pakistan Million Women Mentors Initiative, and both countries expressed their intent to strengthen the U.S.-Pakistan Women’s Council and other women’s economic empowerment forums as a mechanism to exchange lessons learned between private sector and civil society and increase representation across the workforce. Minister Syed Naveed Qamar highlighted the Women Entrepreneurship Development Plan, introduced by TDAP and the Ministry of Commerce, which aims to strengthen women’s business skills through extensive training.
Access, Equity and Inclusion
USTR and the Ministry of Commerce recognized the structural social and economic barriers to gender equity and equality. The Ministers resolved to improve equitable access to information, which remains a pre-requisite for boosting women’s participation in the global marketplace. The countries supported continued work to increase regulatory transparency, improve inclusivity in the rulemaking process, and encourage the participation of women-owned businesses and MSMEs in Pakistan’s commercial fora. To sustain these in the strategic context, the Ministry of Commerce is setting up a Women Advisory Council consisting of leading businesswomen, academics, and civil society members to advise the government on impediments to women’s participation in business and trade.