Pakistan: Now or Never?

Perspectives on Pakistan

On microfinance in Pakistan

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women cottonGiven the amount of negative news about Pakistan in the last few weeks,  it is good to see a report about something going reasonably well, with this article by the blog Changing up Pakistan on the country’s first microfinance institution. 

Modelled on the Grameen Bank set up in Bangladesh by Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohmmad Yunus,  the Kashf Foundation provides loans to Pakistani women to set up small projects which both bring them an income and enhance their status.

“Women in our society do not get the due acknowledgement they deserve for their contribution to the overall economy,” the blog quotes Kashf Foundation founder Roshaneh Zafar as saying.  “Time and time again, during my travels while I worked for the World Bank in Pakistan, women from all walks of life – rural women, urban women, educated women, illiterate women, working women, home makers – would tell me the same thing, that they wanted a better life for themselves and their families, however, they lacked economic opportunity.  This resonated across the country, from when I sat with shy and veiled women in Kalat in Balochistan to when I engaged with highly empowered and articulate women from the plains of the Punjab.

“ The second was related to my own commitment.  I had grown up in a Pakistan where I had not faced any discrimination on the basis of gender.  I was and am strongly committed to the notion that we can build a world free of gender discrimination – that comes with two strategies, empowering women economically (providing them a financial voice) and investing in their social status (through education and health).”

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