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Action plan signed on women’s economic empowerment

MOU Action Plan

Associate Dean for Curriculum and Learning Patrick Jackson (fourth from left) represented American University at the action plan signing along with Melanie Bixby, executive director of the US-Pakistan Women's Council (far right).

The 2016 U.S.-Pakistan Business Opportunities Conference on June 2-3 in New York was attended by an American University delegation representing the U.S.-Pakistan Women's Council. At the conference's close, Pakistan's Additional Commerce Secretary Ather and U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Catherine Russell signed an MOU Action Plan to guide implementation of the 2014 bilateral memorandum of understanding on women’s economic empowerment and entrepreneurship.

This article first appeared in Dawn.

Pakistan and the United States signed an action plan on Saturday, June 5 on women’s entrepreneurship and economic empowerment as the two countries ended the 2016 U.S.-Pakistan Business Opportunities Conference on June 2-3 in New York City, New York.

The action plan was signed by the U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, Catherine Russell, and Pakistan’s Additional Secretary of Commerce Robina Ather at a simple ceremony on the sidelines of the two-day US-Pakistan Business Opportunities Conference, which was aimed at building business-to-business linkages between US and Pakistani businesses and to generate networking opportunities for them.

Among those present at the ceremony were Commerce Minister Khurram Dastagir Khan, who led the Pakistan delegation to the conference and U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Bruce Andrews, who headed the American delegation.

The action plan stems from a U.S.-Pakistan Memorandum of Understanding to enable women’s economic empowerment and entrepreneurship. A key aspect will be a ‘Women in the Economy Forum’ that consults and mobilizes private-public partnerships from both countries to coordinate and formulate recommendations.

The two-day conference, the fourth in a series, was the first to be held in the U.S. The previous conferences took place in London, Dubai and Islamabad. About 300 industry representatives, investors, and government leaders from the two countries as well as emerging professionals and entrepreneurs attended the conference held in Citicorp building in mid-town Manhattan.

At a press conference, Khurram Dastagir Khan said that the fourth business conference was a “manifestation of that commitment” made by the two leaders. U.S.-Pakistan ties, he added, would mature and deepen in the years ahead.

Replying to a question, he said the Pakistani farmers’ difficulties stem from falling international commodity prices as they could not sell their produce.

Moreover, Pakistan’s agriculture suffered from lack of modern technology, and this problem is being addressed by the government.

In his remarks, Deputy Secretary Andrews highlighted that the conference was a special opportunity to build new commercial ties that would strengthen the economic link between the U.S. and Pakistan and make this kind of economic cooperation a lasting institution.

“American firms are excited about doing more business in Pakistan and for good reason, too,” he said, adding that Pakistan has the world’s sixth largest population. Of its 196 million residents, two-thirds were under the age of 30, “Clearly, this is an attractive market with many strategic advantages and there is enormous room for growth,” Andrews said.

“Yet Pakistan still faces unique challenges in today’s global economy.”

The original version of this article appeared in Dawn on June 5, 2016: http://www.dawn.com/news/1262826/action-plan-signed-on-womens-economic-empowerment