South Asia, a region where women are surrounded by tribal, feudal, religious and capitalist social formations, happens to have sustained some level of economic development for women in recent years. Unlike Western nations, South Asian women cannot freely pursue what they want. Due to their cultural norms and values, they cannot simply exercise their entrepreneurship skills in their practical lives, the way women in Western nations can.
According to World Bank, women in South Asia constituted 48.61 percent of the population of the region in 2011. Unfortunately, these women are not given as many opportunities as men are given. They are strangled in a male dominant society and, in certain areas, are considered as 'house pets'. They have not been active in economic and political roles, and the media has promoted them through negative stereotypical ideologies or either as struggling in the economy.
However, the trend has been changing since the last two decades. Despite all these factors and the ignorance of women empowerment, there has been some level of economic development for women in South Asia. Many women have started pursuing their dreams; they have been active in social, political and economic roles. The employment of women has increased significantly given the increase of female literacy rate. Women, now, have been investing in the economy, particularly in retail sector of the economy. They have come forth in business sectors and are showing that they can act as being economically independent.
Of all the South Asian nations, India has experienced the most growth in women economic development during the past decade. Indian women have made a mark for themselves not only within the country but also overseas. Nonetheless, full and equal economic participation of women in South Asia is still a long way from its destination.
To help support women's interest in entrepreneurship, SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) nations established SCWEC (SAARC Chamber Women Entrepreneurs Council) in 2001. This council works toward creating an effective platform for exchanging information on entrepreneurial skills and strengthening intra-regional women economic development.
In addition to this, South Asia Women's Entrepreneurship Symposium was organized in Dhaka (December, 2012) by the US State Department where South Asian women gathered to discuss opportunities and challenges faced by women in different sectors of the economy.
In order to create a robust environment for women to actively participate in economic activities, South Asian nations should have a rigorous approach towards women empowerment and pragmatically unshackle from the complex mix of cultural, institutional, and social factors.