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SAZH-TAF Report on FDI

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Gender


Pakistan is a signatory to CEDAW and must comply with obligations under it. Likewise, under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), specifically SDG 5 (Gender Equality), 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), 9 (Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure) and 10 (Reduced Inequalities), Pakistan must make the effort to include gender participation in its workforce. Gender participation in the economy allowed our neighbors such as, Bangladesh to transcend us in GDP and social growth. It was highly recommended by our attendees to take steps to introduce women to the workforce, across the board, in manufacturing, textiles, software, services, and all other facets. In order to circumvent these issues, both government departments and businesses can come up with innovative solutions to increase women’s employment. The private sector must make active efforts to create incentives to involve women in the workforce and stronger harassment protection mechanisms.

 

Various organizations such as, SheMeansWork, the founder of which joined us in this project, and Edge, an HR startup in the US founded by a VC who joined us in this project, can help elevate this, yet further work must be done to discover how to alleviate this necessary setback in our economy.

 

 

It is important to look at the examples of other South Asian countries, which effectively prove that the employment of more women in the workforce leads to an increased FDI. The Bangladesh garment industry is the largest employer of women in the formal manufacturing sector Bangladesh, which has set up very systematic incentives for their investors including special economic zones (to give tax breaks to the investors) and included women in their workforce. This not only resulted decreasing the fertility rate but also helped increase the countries’ workforce, which then resulted in the growth of FDI. Bangladesh does not produce textiles, rather it imports raw materials of textiles, but it is the second largest exporter of garments in the world. Eighty percent of their exports come from there. (Textile News, RMG News, 2021)

 

 

According to the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), about four million people work in the sector and said about 80% of the workforce in the garment industry are women (ILO, 2020). This is because they started reforms such as scholarships, and discourage early marriages, which contributed to growth. In this case, it was not the participation of the government but the lack thereof which proved to be successful. It was the facilitator rather than coming as a negative influence. Reiterating the inclusion of women in the workforce one of our experts from the World Bank stated that women make up the majority in the garments industries of Bangladesh. Our  Round Table participants emphasized that Pakistan can’t grow nor sustain FDI, if, women are deprived of working parallel to their male colleagues.

 

 

Harassment has been cited as a substantial issue in participation of women in the workplace. To that end, it was recommended that the Ombudsperson office for workplace harassment be engaged with to identify and implement suggestions on preventing harassment in the workplace.

 

 

However, increased FDI is inherently not an end in and of itself. Taking into account the Pakistani context, policies can be introduced that attempt to use FDI to promote growth as well as gender equality. Foreign investors can be less connected with domestic interests therefore, the government can improve the capacities of women-led domestically owned firms by giving them special loans or subsidies. Another potential solution could be increasing other incentives such as increasing training and assistance to local suppliers and regulating incentive competition.

 

Environment

 

During the pendency of this Report, Pakistan was hit by the largest environmental disaster it has faced in ages. Unfortunately, our Round Table was not able to propose any conclusive recommendations on how to tackle the vast environmental challenges faced by Pakistan. It was recommended that a consultation between the relevant ministry, civil society organizations and experts of the field should be initiated as this problem cannot be allowed to linger without a solution


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