Senior Advisor to US Special Representative on Afghanistan and Pakistan, Ambassador Robin Raphel Monday termed US-Pakistan Women’s Council a significant step to economically empower women of the country. Giving a background briefing to a select group of journalists, Raphel said, “The United States has made gender equality and women’s empowerment a core focus of our foreign policy.
As Secretary Clinton has stated, investing in the potential of the world’s women and girls is one of the surest ways to achieve global economic progress, political stability, and greater prosperity for women – and men – the world over.” Recognising that Pakistan’s stability and future prosperity depend on a robust economy in which women play a key role, the State Department and American University (AU) have established the US-Pakistan Women’s Council. The mission of the Council, launched by Secretary Clinton on September 27, 2012, is to support economic development and entrepreneurship for women in Pakistan.
“That commitment to invest in women and girls and the dynamic women entrepreneurs in Pakistan and in the Diaspora in the United States is what led Secretary Clinton and Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar to establish the US-Pakistan Women’s Council in September,” Raphel added. Further elaborating, she said the council will work in four areas, which included introducing young women to the workplace through internships, career counselling, and other activities, working with companies to encourage employment of more women, supporting women entrepreneurs and highlighting the value of letting women enter the workplace.
She further said that the council would also be exploring more ways to find opportunities for women like giving young women internships and giving them employments. Being a public-private partnership, she said that it will also help in bringing the American and Pakistani businesswomen together to understand each other business environment. To a question, she said Secretary Clinton, who is currently in the advisory board of the council, has agreed to remain on the position after being stepped down as US Secretary of State.
The case for the council is an economic one and it will therefore link US and Pakistani corporations, foundations, universities, and other individuals to Pakistani initiatives that advance economic opportunities for women, including by promoting female employment, providing internships and scholarships, or mentoring young women on business planning, market access, and leadership. The council will not directly fund projects. Furthermore, the council will be housed at the School of International Studies (SIS) at American University in Washington, DC. The Executive Director, a diplomat with regional experience, will conduct the council’s daily operations.
An executive committee will govern the council: American University President Dr Cornelius Kerwin and Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Melanne Verveer will serve as co-chairs. The Organisation for Pakistani Entrepreneurs for North America (OPEN), a Pakistani-American non-profit dedicated to entrepreneurship, will serve on the Executive Committee and provide access to its business networks in Pakistan and the United States. An advisory group, consisting of leaders based in Pakistan and the United States, will assist the council.