Code for Pakistan collaborated with KP IT Board (KPITB), the World Bank, Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication (MoITT), and National Information Technology Board (NITB) to hold a Summit on International Women’s Day (IWD). Held at NITB’s auditorium, the Summit on International Women’s Day was a half day event that centered on meaningful discussions to emphasize gender disparity in line with this year’s IWD theme, #BreakTheBias.
The Summit was attended by politicians, policy makers, and thought leaders to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. Amongst those in attendance and delivering keynotes were Chaudry Muhammad Iqbal, IT Minister, AJK; Hassan Ali Khan, Advisor KPITB; Syed Hussnain Abbas Kazmi, Executive Director, NITB; Shan Rehman, Social Development Specialist, World Bank; Dr. Khalid Masood, Director Hospital, PIMS; and Pervaiz Abbasi, Project Director, NIC Islamabad.
The Summit started off with a workshop on digital hygiene, where Dr. Zunera Jalil, Associate Professor at Department of Cyber Security, Air University, Islamabad, presented to the audience on creating a culture of cyber resilience. Next, a panel discussion featured key figures from within our tech ecosystem who are challenging discriminatory, gender-biased systems and championing for collective change to empower women within Pakistan. The panel, which was moderated by Sadaf Khan from Media Matters for Democracy, featured Midhat Shehzad, IT Secretary, AJKITB; Malahat Obaid, Director, PTA; Asim Shahryar Husain, CEO, Ignite; and Meena Munawar Khan, Head of Products, JS Bank. Following the panel, the audience heard from 4 empowered women from the grassroots, who spoke about their experiences breaking through barriers, shedding light on the challenges and opportunities that exist for women in Pakistan today. Young women were given the stage to share their experiences in challenging biases in educational institutions, workplaces and society in general.
“We need just one woman in our circle to show it to others that everything is possible,” said Nawal Zaheer, one of the young women who shared their stories, “and one male ally can stand up and change everything for a woman.”
In a show of commitment towards inclusivity, sign language interpretation was provided for the attendees by Pakistani-based startup DeafTawk.
“I’m grateful that KPITB had the chance to partner with Code for Pakistan, the World Bank, MOITT and NITB to co-host this incredibly important event on International Women’s Day,” said Dr. Ali Mehmud, Managing Director, KPITB. “There is serious underrepresentation of women in the technology sector, particularly in leadership roles. I am 100% committed to breaking the bias that exists for Pakistani women in tech, and creating avenues through policies and programs that will provide greater opportunity for the women of KP.”
Samina Rizwan, Country Head at Code for Pakistan said “Today we honor those who stood up for change and fought for the rights that we live and enjoy today. Though there’s still a way to go, there is hope and the conversations we have had amongst ourselves shows this; we have heard from esteemed politicians, industry thought leaders and from women who are sharing their stories and breaking biases. Let us not leave this auditorium and these conversations without having a clear call to action and way forward.”
Code for Pakistan, which collaborates with government, CSOs, and citizens, develops technology for civic good. The organization is marking the occasion of International Women’s Day by asking partners to sign a simple pledge to continue working toward the advancement of women.
Sign the pledge to celebrate the advancement of women & girls in our community, and continue our work towards making a difference: