Increasing trade and business activities among neighbouring countries will help in the integration of South Asian countries, which is one of the least integrated regions in the world, said Isabel Guerrero, World Bank's vice president for South Asia, while addressing leaders of women organizations at a meet on self employment and livelihoods for women in South Asia.
The meet has been organized by India's largest self employed women' association SEWA, which works for women' rights and self employment in India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
"Pakistan and India can benefit immensely with more trade and business. I think Pakistan's macro-economic situation, where they have a low tax revenue and high expenditure, budget deficit. The only way for Pakistan to get out of it is to grow. They have to grow out of this macro problem and growth can come from having more trade with India," she said.
She stressed on measures like enhancing cross boundary transport links and power (electricity) sharing agreements which would lead to deepening of business ties among the nations.
Talking about challenges for women in the most populated region, she said that 50% of missing girls are in South Asia alone and if not addressed properly, it will create many problems and issues for the societies in these countries.
"Empowerment of women and (to) make them self employed and create livelihood opportunities for them is one of the biggest development challenges in the world," she said, highlighting some initiatives taken by community organizations in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and other countries.
On India, she said that in secondary education, drop out rate of girls is still very high which has to be reduced in order to achieve inclusive growth. "India has made progress in poverty reduction and has capacity to reduce it further. Once India achieves that goal, the entire world will see huge jump in poverty reduction like what the world witnessed when China achieved reduction in poverty," Guerrero, who was earlier the country director of World Bank in India, said.