Press Release

“The role and status of women have been changing rapidly due to growing industrialization and globalization, supported by conducive social legislations and legal instruments. With the ever-changing socio-cultural values, and spread of education and awareness, women are increasingly engaging themselves in professional activities, including entrepreneurship,” said H. E. Mr. Amjad Hussain B. Sial, Secretary General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). He made these remarks addressing the Best Woman Entrepreneur Award-2018 Function in Kathmandu on 11 January 2019. He was the Chief Guest at the function.


“More and more women are increasingly occupying higher positions in the Government, judiciary, parliament and political parties. We are proud that in South Asia, we currently have a lady Head of State in Nepal and a lady Head of Government in Bangladesh,” stated the Secretary General at the function.


He said that SAARC is a regional organization created primarily to promote the welfare of the peoples of this region. Convinced that women, who constitute almost 50% of the population, are South Asia’s strength, the SAARC Leaders have underscored the need for bringing them fully into the mainstream of socio-economic development, he added. He also shed light on the initiatives taken by SAARC in empowering women, with particular reference to the SAARC Social Charter and the Regional Convention for Women, and inter-governmental mechanisms, including the mechanism of Ministerial Meetings on Women. “In essence, since its inception in December 1985, SAARC’s focus has been on promoting women’s education; protecting their rights; ensuring that they are free from all sorts of discrimination; and above all, empowering them economically.”


In concluding his remarks, the Secretary General congratulated the recipient and runners up of the Best Woman Entrepreneur Award from Nepal for 2018. He expressed the confidence that such Awards will encourage them to work even harder to establish themselves as role models for other women entrepreneurs. He also commended the immense contribution being made by women of Nepal in the socio-economic development of the country.


Organized by Nepal Chapter of the SAARC Chamber Women Entrepreneurs’ Council, the Best Woman Entrepreneur Award-2018 competition received some 30 applications from promising entrepreneurs from Nepal. A panel of judges from Nepal narrowed down the list of aspirant winners to 20 in the first round, out of which 10 were shortlisted for the Award in the second round. The third round of selection decided on one winner and two runners up of the Award.


The winner of the Award from Nepal will compete in the Best Woman Entrepreneur Award from the SAARC Region for 2018 being organized by the SAARC Chamber Women Entrepreneurs’ Council in Colombo in March next year.


Established in 2001 in Colombo under the auspices of the SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry, an Apex Body of SAARC, the Women Entrepreneurs’ Council has been doing a commendable job in promoting women entrepreneurship across the region.

Kathmandu, 11 January 2019

“The South Asian countries are heirs to a rich tradition of dance and music from the ancient times. The dance traditions of our countries have evolved drawing inspiration from each other,” said H. E. Mr. Amjad Hussain B. Sial, Secretary General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). He was addressing the Closing Ceremony of the SAARC Cultural Festival on Traditional Dance in Kathmandu this evening.


Organized by the SAARC Cultural Centre in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation of Nepal, the four-day Festival brought together artists from the Member States to showcase their talents as well as some of the best classical dances of the region.


“In today’s world where many elements of culture and traditions are being overshadowed due to the impact of globalization, our artists have largely managed to keep alive South Asia’s dance traditions,” the Secretary General said. “Events such as this Festival play an important role in preserving and promoting the traditional dances of the SAARC region.”


The Secretary thanked the SAARC Cultural Centre for making sustained efforts in preserving the region’s cultural and traditional heritage through events as this Festival.


He also thanked the Government of Nepal, particularly the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, in facilitating the organization of the Festival in Kathmandu.

Kathmandu, 14 December 2018

H. E. Mr. Amjad Hussain B. Sial, Secretary General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) addressed the Opening Session of the Seventh International Conference of the International Society of Obstetric Fistula Surgeons in Kathmandu last evening. He was the Guest of Honour at the Opening Session.


Organized by the International Society of Obstetric Fistula Surgeons, the two-day Conference brought together some 200 surgeons, medical professionals and experts from around the world and Nepal to discuss prevention and cure of Obstetric Fistula, a medical condition of some women as a result of complication in childbirth.


Addressing the Opening Session, the Secretary General congratulated the Society for organizing the Conference. He said, “This Conference is of enormous significance to SAARC as a regional organization, which accords high priority to the well-being of women in South Asia, including their health. We believe that the empowerment of women socially, economically and politically is crucially important to achieve greater progress and prosperity in our societies.”


In his Address, the Secretary General described Obstetric Fistula as “a serious health hazard” to many women. He said, “Our ultimate objective is to prevent and cure fistula. We should also make sustained endeavours to rehabilitate and reintegrate all those women who are already suffering from it. They should be enabled to live a healthy, comfortable and dignified life. Let us work together to achieve this humane objective.”


He highlighted that programmes that improve nutrition, delay the age of first pregnancy, improve family planning and increase access to maternal and obstetric care are necessary to prevent obstetric fistula. He asserted, “On the whole, preventing obstetric fistula requires overall improvement in the status of women.”


Kathmandu, 06 December 2018

The Fifty-sixth Session of the Programming Committee of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) commenced today in Kathmandu. The Programming Committee is a Charter Body of SAARC.


Mr. Krishna Prasad Dhakal, Joint Secretary (SAARC), Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Nepal chaired the meeting. The two-day Session of the Programming Committee brings together Heads of SAARC Divisions (Joint Secretary/Director General) from the Ministries of Foreign/External Affairs or National Focal Points of the Member States of SAARC.


The Committee will review the current status of regional cooperation in the identified areas. The Committee will also finalize the budgets and Calendars of Activities of the SAARC Secretariat, Specialized Bodies and Regional Centres.


H. E. Mr. Amjad Hussain B. Sial, Secretary General of SAARC, addressed the Fifty-sixth Session of the Programming Committee this morning.


In his address, the Secretary General underscored the need to ensure implementation of the activities once agreed to by the Member States, including those at the Ministerial level. Stating that improved intra-regional connectivity is essential to promote economic relations, tourism and people-to-people contacts, he expressed the hope that the three regional Agreements on Motor Vehicles, Railways and Air Services would be concluded soon. He also highlighted the importance of project-based collaboration to bring dividends of regional cooperation to the peoples in the region.


In his opening remarks, Mr. Krishna Prasad Dhakal, Joint Secretary and Chairperson of the Programming Committee, reiterated unflinching commitment of Nepal to the SAARC process. He also appreciated the role of the SAARC Secretariat and excellent arrangements made for the meeting.


The Programming Committee last met at the SAARC Secretariat in Kathmandu on 06 July 2018.


Kathmandu, 11 December 2018