SAARC countries should
adopt gender-friendly lending system to aid in economic empowerment of women,
Women and Child Development Minister Renuka Chowdhury said on Friday.
Inaugurating a conference of SAARC nations on microfinance for
women, Chowdhury said gender-biased practices were prevalent in the microfinance
industry and there were difficulties for individual entrepreneur women in
"These issues and challenges need to be looked into
and a proper strategy has to be adopted in order to establish viable
micro-finance programmes which will make a positive impact on the lives of
poorest of the poor women," she said.
She said gender strategies in
microfinance need to look beyond just increasing women's access to savings and
credit and organising self-help groups to look strategically at how programmes
can actively promote women's empowerment.
Chowdhury also expressed
concern over the labour market continuing to treat women unequally, not only
with regard to employment but also with regard to wages.
conference, attended by delegations from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal,
Pakistan and Sri Lanka, decided to share practices like institution-building,
use of improved technologies and undertake training programmes and exchange on a