ADB okays $155.5 million to boost financial inclusion in Pakistan.
A Landmark Initiative: ADB Empowers Women in Pakistan with $155.5 Million Package
In a pivotal move to elevate women’s economic standing in Pakistan, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a comprehensive financial package worth $155.5 million.
This initiative, targeting women and women-led businesses, aims to bridge the gender gap in financial inclusion and pave the way for a more inclusive and resilient economy.
Three Pillars of Empowerment:
- Policy-Based Loan ($100 million): This funding directly supports critical legal and regulatory reforms, like the pioneering “Banking on Equality Policy” by the State Bank of Pakistan. This policy ensures dedicated banking departments cater specifically to women’s financial needs, tackling the existing gender finance gap.
- Financial Intermediation Loan ($50 million): This loan empowers approximately 2 million women entrepreneurs, particularly focusing on 510,000 previously unbanked individuals. Disbursed through participating financial institutions, this loan directly contributes to the economic growth of women-led businesses.
- Financial Literacy & Digital Inclusion (Grant: $5.5 million): This grant supports crucial activities like financial literacy programs, equipping women with the knowledge and skills needed for effective financial management. Additionally, a digital platform connecting women to financial services is being developed, aiming to bridge the digital divide and promote financial inclusion.
Addressing Key Challenges:
- Low Female Labor Force Participation: With only 23% of women participating in the workforce, the ADB program aims to increase this number significantly.
- Limited Women’s Entrepreneurship: Currently, only 4% of businesses in Pakistan are women-led. The ADB’s initiative seeks to address this disparity by creating an enabling environment for female entrepreneurship.
- Closing Gender Finance Gap: Pakistan faces a significant gender finance gap of 34%. The ADB program tackles this challenge by providing women improved access to credit, digital financial tools, and tailored financial training and advisory services.
ADB Director General for Central and West Asia, Yevgeniy Zhukov, emphasized the importance of women’s economic empowerment:
“Inclusive, resilient, and sustainable development cannot be achieved if women do not have equal economic opportunities and benefits.”
This landmark initiative by the ADB represents a significant step towards creating a more inclusive and equitable financial ecosystem in Pakistan. By empowering women through access to finance and essential skills, the program paves the way for a brighter future for women and the Pakistani economy as a whole.
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