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Refugee, host women’s contributions in digital technology highlighted


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ISLAMABAD: Local and international non-government organisations (NGOs) on Wednesday celebrated International Women’s Day by highlighting contributions that the refugee and host community’s women had made by coming together and learning from one another in the field of digital technology.

The event, organised by Inspire Pakistan, kicked off with an inspiring welcome note from its chief executive officer (CEO) and founder Qaiser M. Siddiqui, highlighting the role women had played in society and how their work had a transformative impact in various communities.

He further expressed that the founder of Pakistan Mohammad Ali Jinnah, in his political struggle brought his sister Fatima Jinnah along with him to all platforms and demonstrated how women could work side by side with men.

He called on the government, activists and private sector to power on in their efforts to make the digital world safer, more inclusive and equitable.

Several events held in the capital by local, international NGOs

Under the organisation, there are several Urban Cohesion Hubs all over Pakistan which cater to Afghan refugees.

Country representative of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Pakistan Noriko Yoshida in her speech appreciated partners and donors in Pakistan for raising awareness about gender equality, gender-based violence and women empowerment.

She further congratulated the students who participated in a digital photography course conducted by Inspire Pakistan and 360 Technologies. Furthermore, students present at the event shared their success stories to learn more about innovation and digital technology.

Zahra Khalid, project manager (Inspire Pakistan), emphasised on digital education for every Afghan refugee girl or woman by stating that no one should be left behind. She focused on the importance of education, health and well-being of al at the Urban Cohesion Hub. She conducted, organised and moderated the event.

Syma Nadeem, former parliamentary secretary, Ministry of Inter-Provincial Coordination, added in her speech that Pakistan had committed to the United Nations since 2015, to achieve the goal of women’s development and gender equality.

Goal 7 is women’s role in renewable energy development without which development in the country was difficult, she said.

Retired Brig Munawar Hussain, and chief technical officer (360 Technologies) shed light on the importance of digital trainings and skills for women and children in today’s world. He said that in the present times, it was easy to access technology through trainings and acquiring skills. He applauded Inspire Pakistan and UNHCR for choosing this particular training for students representing Afghan refugees and host communities.

The celebration was attended by members from UNHCR, United States embassy and other non-profits. Foreign dignitaries including deputy refugee coordinator (US Embassy) Paola Weise and Dr Arif Oryakhail, coordinator health, Italian Agency for Development Cooperation. At the end of the event, certificates were distributed amongst students who completed the three-month digital photography course.

Furthermore, Serena Hotels hosted a networking breakfast to celebrate International Women’s Day to honour, appreciate, and laud women who have excelled through achieving success in their professional careers.

Members of the diplomatic community, representatives of international agencies, corporate sector, representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Serena associates, and other women who have been striving to change behaviours for the betterment of women were present.

The meet and greet started in the foyer where women had an immersive experience of arts and crafts on display, along with an auditory delight of soulful melodies where a beautiful cake was cut towards the end of the ceremony, re-iterating the celebration of Women’s Day.

The chief guest for the occasion was the First Lady Begum Samina Arif Alvi. Keynote speakers were Naima Ansari, who has been part of the Islamabad Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Ayla Majeed, the first Muslim, South Asian, Pakistani woman in the role of vice president (VP) of ACCA and Kashmala Khan, former federal ombudsperson for protection against harassment of women at the workplace, shared their experiences with the audience.

Ms Alvi spoke about efforts that the government has been making for gender parity through different initiatives and emphasised on the importance of providing women an inclusive and fair working environment, regardless of the field they choose.

Published in Dawn, March 9th, 2023

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