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Sunday April 21, 2024

Empowering women is key to driving progress: Google on Pakistani women's role

Tech giant reaffirms commitment to equip women to overcome hurdles, utilise their potential to more inclusive society

By Web Desk
March 08, 2024
Pakistani employees of online marketplace company Kaymu at work in Karachi. — AFP/File
Pakistani employees of online marketplace company Kaymu at work in Karachi. — AFP/File 

Popular search engine platform and tech giant Google, as part of its effort to recognise the potential and aspirations of Pakistani women, has reiterated its commitment towards women's empowerment on the occasion of International Women's Day reiterating that women can play a significant role in country's progress and prosperity if equipped with relevant skills and resources.

The development comes as Google has undertaken various initiatives such as Future Forward Pakistan, to close the digital gap for women in the country and further empower them to represent the country and compete at the international level.

As per Farhan Qureshi, Google's country director, the tech giant firmly believes that women's empowerment is the primary force behind progress and achieving a more equitable future.

"Our women-focused programs are strategically designed to equip women in Pakistan with the necessary tools and resources they need to overcome hurdles and unleash their full potential."

By implementing these initiatives, Google is creating a positive impact on the lives of women in Pakistan and is committed to continuing this journey, working hand-in-hand to create a brighter future where women in Pakistan can hit their stride and contribute to a more inclusive and prosperous society.

Bridging gaps through upskilling

While the country is on the path of progress in female literacy, gender parity remains a challenge. In Pakistan, female labour force participation rate is among the lowest in the world, hovering around 22%.

Google recognises the incredible potential and aims to bridge these gaps by launching several programmes to help drive stronger equality and the empowerment of women in the workforce. One such example is the Google Career Certificates programme, launched in Pakistan in 2022.

At least 50% of the programme scholarships are allocated exclusively for women, in order to increase women's access to economic opportunities and enable them to pursue their aspirations. The programme awarded 44,500 scholarships in 2023 and has committed 45,000 new scholarships for 2024 to empower more learners.

Supporting women founders and women in tech

It is estimated that only 1% of entrepreneurs in Pakistan are female. To ensure that Pakistani women are an equal part of the entrepreneurial ecosystem; The Women Founders Circle, a collaboration between Google Cloud and the National Science and Technology Park (NSTP), offers workshops and mentorship for women entrepreneurs in tech, fostering greater inclusion in the startup landscape.

In addition, the Women Techmakers (WTM) programme works to upskill and inspire women in technology, running events, providing mentorship, and advocating for greater diversity. There are seven WTM ambassadors in Pakistan across five cities (Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar, and Hyderabad).

In 2023 alone, Google supported Pakistani WTM Ambassadors to run seven events across those cities to celebrate International Women's Day, which inspired more than 1,500 women.

Nurturing future voices

Google News Initiative (GNI), with the support of its local partners, trains young journalists, providing opportunities for women to gain reporting experience, and addressing the accessibility of newsrooms.

Marium Chaudhry, a passionate journalist in Pakistan, is on a mission to make the newsroom more accessible for the younger generation in the country. To fulfil her mission of empowering readers, the Google News Initiative partnered with her to help train 120 students in digital journalism using GNI resources. In 12 months, 36 hours of in-person training were conducted, and 50+ blogs were written by students.

Sharing stories, achieving dreams

While YouTube has been a positive force in Pakistan in more ways than one, it also continues to serve as a powerful platform for women to share their voices and inspire others. Throughout the years, there are more and more creators who choose YouTube to be the platform of choice to share their stories and their passion. Not only that, many created a career and gained financial independence through YouTube.

A great example is Iqra Kanwal, one of Pakistan's top female creators on YouTube. She is a role model, as she has been able to break stereotypes by following her dream and empowering and entertaining her community in Pakistan through her content.

Kanwal shares: "I strongly believe that every voice is significant, every story is valuable, and YouTube has played a pivotal role in enabling its creators to bring these stories to life.

"The platform has been instrumental to my success as a content creator and has provided strong avenues to share my narratives, connect with the audiences globally, and achieve success."