Bulletin Board

First Ladies' Fund

The First Ladies did it in Kuala Lumpur! At the closing meeting of the Regional Steering Committee on Economic Advancement of Rural & Island women in Asia Pacific, they endorsed last October, the establishment of an independent revolving fund to finance microcredit institutions in the Asian region. The trust fund was proposed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad in his speech at the opening of the meeting. Speaking at a press conference, RSC-AP Chairman Datin Seri Dr. Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali, said the trust fund would finance micro finance institutions in the region. "We are endorsing the establishment of the fund even though each member country is encouraged to establish its own trust fund based on the spirit of self-reliance and dignity", she said.

With the setting up of the funds, RSC-AP member countries would be able mobilise resources without the need to be overdepedent on developed economies.

The committee also passed other resolutions pertaining to poverty alleviation which include:

To advocate a national policy framework that calls for the removal of all barriers for credit to poor women and the need for suitable legal entities for MFIs to harness domestic savings.

To advocate the promotion of non-governmental organisations to initiate micro-financing activities and promote the scaling up of existing small MFIs into viable and sustainable capacity building as well as on-lending to the poor.

To respond to the call for the provision of technical assistance, transfer of knowledge and skills, exchange of ideas and promotion of mutual understanding, direction and commitment through networking among the member countries; and a call for rejuvenation and reinforcement of political will and commitment to integrate women into the mainstream national economy and decision-making positions.