HESSA celebrates Women’s Day

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ISLAMABAD :The Higher Education System Strengthening Activity (HESSA) Project—a USAID-funded initiative with the University of Utah as its implementing partner—commemorated International Women’s Day by holding a panel discussion on ‘Women and Higher Education in Pakistan: Agents of Change’ here on Tuesday.
The event was held at the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) and member of the National Assembly and Special Committee on People with Disabilities, Zill-e-Huma, chaired the discussion.
The participants discussed women’s current and future roles in higher education in Pakistan, including how HESSA is contributing towards women leadership capacity building.
They recognized the contributions of women as decision-makers, stakeholders, experts, and educators across all levels.
The critical role of diversity in the workforce to prevent a myopic view of the way sustainability objectives are identified, prioritized, and implemented was also brainstormed. The panelists suggested ways for identifying and filling gaps to inform more robust gender-responsive higher education policymaking, planning and implementation.
The distinguished panelists included Vice Chancellor (VC) Women’s University Swabi, Dr. Shahana Urooj Kazmi; VC National Skills University, Dr. Mohammad Mukhtar; CEO National Forum of Women with Disabilities and Director Projects, Special Talent Exchange Program, Abia Akram; Registrar Pakistan Engineering Council, Dr. Nasir M Khan; Director Advancement Office NUST, Maria Qadri; and Deputy Chief of Party, USAID’s HESSA Project, Dr. Samreen Hussain.
Addressing the gathering, Zill-e-Huma emphasized that cultural and traditional teachings, values, and the socio-economic context should be well integrated when aiming for gender equality and women’s empowerment.
She underlined the need for inclusion of women leaders with disabilities at the decision-making level.
Dr. Shahana called for gender sensitization in formulating and implementing policies and programmes.
Dr. Samreen termed financial autonomy of women a better way of achieving inclusive socio-economic development. “There is a need to challenge and reform the gender-biased perceptions and practices in our society. Women can get their space through their own worth and work,” she remarked.
HESSA is designed to provide technical assistance to several Pakistani universities in delivering high-quality market driven education and research, including strengthening of their institutional governance capacities, and to produce employable graduates while fostering improved workforce development.