SAARC Chamber Women Entrepreneurs Council, a symbol of women empowerment

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The motivation for forming regional bodies is thus simple.  Neighbours can do it in a better way if they are friendly and not fractious. Regional cooperation is supposed to create the necessary atmosphere for converting foes into friends. Admittedly, mere membership of a regional organisation would not do the trick, but as part of a regional arrangement there is bound to be plenty of interaction among members and, as these links become thicker, the expectation is that the incentive to use force to resolve disputes will decrease. The South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was established on 8th December 1985. Promoting peace, stability, amity and progress in the region, was the first line of the SAARC charter. The SAARC includes the eight South Asian countries including Pakistan, India, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. The SAARC Secretariat is located in Kathmandu, Nepal. The annual summit meeting of the heads of governments and states is the highest decision-making body. The Council of (Foreign) Ministers, which meets twice a year, assists the summits. With about 2.5% of the world’s land surface area, the South Asian region has 17% of the world’s population. The idea behind establishment of SAARC was to establish better cultural and social ties amongst the member states to promote peace in the region. In a competing world, where we see countries forming groups like the EU, ASEAN, AU and so on, SAARC could be a pillar for the countries of the South Asian region to establish their identity in trade and also to alleviate the afore mentioned evils persistent in the region. An active participation of the fifth estate (social media) and citizen journalism can strengthen people to people contact and hence bring about regional integration. Apart from regional cooperation in various fields, women empowerment is another factor which this organisation is promoting since long.  Improving gender equality could significantly boost growth in advanced economies over the coming decades. To cope with the challenges, SAARC Chamber Women Entrepreneurs Council (SCWEC) was established on 29th March, 2001 in Colombo Sri Lanka with the objective of developing and promoting women entrepreneurs in the South Asian region. The Council works towards facilitating co-operation and networking among the women entrepreneurs of the SAARC region. It is an effective platform for strengthening the intra-regional development of women entrepreneurship for economic development thus helping to exchange information on entrepreneurial skills and building trade links among the women of the SAARC region. This platform encourages women to exhibit their skills in several organized events. The business model propagated by SCWEC upholds the belief ‘by the women, for the women, and to the women’. It is a sustainable, revenue generating enterprise that gives stakeholders the opportunity to be actively involved and engaged in manufacturing and distributing the product. Whether it is politics, sports, business, arts, science, or any other arena, women are leading with a rapid pace and proving every day that sky is the limit for them. In over last 20 years, women entrepreneurship has seen a paradigm shift in its growth which has been acknowledged by SAARC Chamber Women Entrepreneurs Council.  Besides the SAARC Social Charter, there are several other inter-governmental mechanisms dealing with the promotion of the status of women. They include Ministerial Meetings on Women; Technical Committee on Women, Youth and Children; SAARC Gender Policy Advocacy Group; and Regional Convention to combat trafficking of women and children for prostitution. SAARC is also collaborating with several UN Specialised Agencies, including UNWomen, in promoting women’s welfare and empowerment. Lots of things regarding women empowerment been done but still there is a lot which has to be done in future when we talk about SAARC or related bodies. A fundamental reason we have not yet achieved gender equality in every realm is that women and girls’ voices are too often excluded from global and national decision-making. When programmes and policies are designed without women’s needs central to their foundation, we’re setting ourselves up to fail. There is need to have a desirable participation of women while making several decisions in order to move ahead in a better way.

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