Head of Pakistan network member Kashf Foundation and member of the Women’s World Banking board Roshaneh Zafar was interviewed by authors of the Ashoka blog on Forbes.com. She discussed her journey into supporting women’s empowerment through microfinance.
What is the inspiration that led you to the field of women’s empowerment in particular?
In Pakistan, 51% of our population is considered to be gainfully employed, but their work is not recognized. Women do contribute to the economy but a lot of times through informal activities for which they aren’t remunerated. One of our key challenges is to build the business case for investing in women’s economic work, which is something that blends both microfinance and gender issues.
When we started working in microfinance with the aim of empowering women economically and alleviating poverty within their families, we came up against many challenges, the first being: How do we convince a woman to take loans, invest them in a business and then make financial choices to enhance revenue? It is because we have these challenges that we continue to do what we do. We got involved to change social dynamics, and this won’t happen without women’s involvement in the economy. For us it is an imperative.