STEM for Women’s Empowerment in Pakistan: Providing Equal Opportunities

A seminar on “STEM for Women’s Empowerment in Pakistan: Providing Equal Opportunities” was held at NUST today to mark International Women’s Day (annually observed on March 8).

Jointly organised by the Sustainability Office of NUST and CHIP Training & Consulting – Pvt Ltd., the seminar is part of the larger campaign titled: STEM4WE, launched by the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The aim was to bring together stakeholders from across academia, energy networks, energy distribution companies, and policymaking bodies, and discuss challenges and opportunities for women in STEM-related fields in Pakistan.

In his opening remarks, Dr Mohammad Ali Mohammad, Director Research briefed the audience about NUST, particularly highlighting its innovative initiatives to bring more young women into technical fields by providing them with a conducive working environment. Mr Ehtesham Khattak, Head of ADB Pakistan, said that ADB encourages women to pursue and advance in STEM careers.

The chief guest at the occasion was Ms Sobia Kamal Khan, Member National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Science & Technology. In her talk, she laid emphasis on the critical importance of women representation in Engineering and Computing occupations. She asserted that diversity in the workforce contributes to creativity, productivity and innovation, adding women’s experiences in tandem with men’s experiences should inform and guide the direction of Engineering and Technical Innovation.

Ensuing was a panel discussion on “How to challenge the challenges to improve women’s participation in STEM related fields?” Panelists included Ms Nameera Hamid, Chairperson, Women in Energy, Ms Samina Mustajab Zaidi, Additional Chief Engineer, IESCO, and Dr Mariam Mahmood, Associate Professor, USPCAS-E NUST. Engr Barira Hanif, Head of NUST Sustainability Office, moderated the discussion. The second panel discussion on “Incentivising STEM: Influencing policies and systems in academia and industry” included Ms Ermeena Malik, Renewable Energy Expert, Ms Hina Aslam, Energy Lead at SDPI, Mr Asad Aleem, Principal Energy Specialist, ADB, and Mr Muhammad Zubair Khan, DG HR, IESCO.

The seminar contributed to the discourse on structural, as well as cultural impediments to women excelling in STEM related fields in Pakistan. The challenges and opportunities faced by women while accessing education and careers in STEM fields in Pakistan – with a particular focus on the energy sector were thoroughly discussed. The seminar also shed light on the way forward for increasing women’s participation in STEM.