KARACHI: Women Chamber of Commerce & Industry (WCCI) Quetta urged the government of Pakistan to work on strategic methods for bringing women in the mainstream of the economy.Addressing a seminar, WCCI Founder President and Former VP FPCCI, Fehmida Jamali said shifting of Chinese handicrafts industry to Pakistan can play a momentous role in empowering Pakistani Women. Currently, the handicraft manufacturing industry of China is facing challenges due to expensive labour, whereas demand of the traditional handmade products is on the rise, she said.
Therefore, it would be very beneficial for Pakistan to initiate joint ventures with China in the handicrafts sector on the basis of buyback guarantee, under which the raw material and wages would be provided by China and in return market driven handicrafts items would be produced by Pakistan, she said.
Fehmida said the handicrafts sector is the only sector having direct linkage with the skills of women. So, there is a dire need to tap this segment in order to empower more than 50 percent population of women in Pakistan.
Cottage industries occupy an important position, especially in the rural setup, as traditionally in those areas women are not encouraged to work outside their homes, she said.
Therefore, a significant number of women in Pakistan are engaged in handicrafts and tailoring activities. For example, up to 30 to 40 percent women in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan are involved in the cottage and handicraft industries, fehmida said.
The handicrafts of Pakistan have fascinated the world by its creativity, aesthetics and exquisite craftsmanship, previously, nearly 65 percent of women earned their livelihood from handicraft work, but the rising cost of inputs, difficult access to credit and poor marketing network, have brought the industry to its present dismal state; she added.
“President WCCI Quetta Mukhtar Fatima said the economic growth alone cannot guarantee social harmony and gender equality, especially in an under-developed society; national development must be balanced by a strong emphasis on equitable distribution of development benefits.
Women empowerment is impossible without the economic participation of women and for this, women has to be encouraged to take part in business and entrepreneurship.
Fatima said revival of the handicrafts industry lies in the development of infrastructure, provision of financial support to artisans, establishment of direct links between buyers and artisans, elimination of middlemen and improved marketing facilities.
Though the range of handicraft products included Ajrak, ceramics, articles made of date leaves, farassi rugs, jandi, khes, musical instruments, caps, straw products, bangles, crucia work, embroideries, kashi, rilli, Thari carpets and woodcarving, she added.
She said it not only provide additional employment and raise the standard of living for both rural and urban populations but also prevent migration from rural areas to the cities. “President WCCI Quetta also said CPEC could help Baluchistan Handicrafts industry to export its finished products to China and CIS states”.=DNA