Islamabad : The British High Commission and the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) in partnership with civil society organisation Idara-i-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA) hosted a discussion and marketplace event titled 'Leave No Girl Behind: Scaling up What Works for Adolescent Girls in Pakistan' at the Pakistan National Council of Arts (PNCA) here on Friday.
The ‘learning and pledging’ event brought together relevant stakeholders and representatives from government, development partners, industry, civil society and media to share lessons learnt from the DFID-funded Siyani Sahelian initiative implemented by ITA that aims to tackle gender inequality for disadvantaged out of school adolescent girls (aged 9-19) in three districts of South Punjab – Muzaffargarh, Bahawalpur and Rahim Yar Khan.
Federal Minister for Education and Professional Training Shafqat Mahmood was chief guest on the occasion.
In his opening remarks, British High Commissioner to Pakistan Dr. Christian Turner said the UK had pledged to advance at least 12 years of quality education for all girls across the world.
He said Pakistan could only reach its full potential if women were given voice and a choice.
“We will continue to build on our exemplary UK-Pakistan partnership to support girls’ education and their financial independence,” he said.
DFID Pakistan Head Annabel Gerry said the UK was pleased to support collective action to step up our efforts to advance girls’ education in Pakistan.
“We believe in leading by example and building sustainable partnerships – our support so far has benefitted millions of girls in primary and secondary schools in Pakistan. We are also targeting more than 20,000 hardest to reach and the most marginalised girls in South Punjab to get the quality of education they deserve and earn livelihoods for themselves and their families. Together, we can work to ensure that we #LeaveNoGirlBehind and improve the lives of girls and women in Pakistan,” she said.
The attendees participated in an interactive marketplace with active learning booths and presence of the vibrant Siyani Sahelis (beneficiaries) who shared their innovative practices and toolkits showcasing various project interventions.
The event saw a panel discussion on “What works for Girls Education and Empowerment” by Dr. Zeba Sathar, Country Director Population Council; filmmaker and activist Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy; Danish Jabbar Khan, CEO Kaarvan Crafts Foundation and Bilquis Tahira, Executive Director Shirakat which was moderated by Saima Anwer, Senior Education Adviser at DFID Pakistan.
The panelists had a consensus that although the government has outlined ambitious plans for girls’ education and empowerment, much more needs to be done as the problem is far too big and complex to tackle in organizational silos.
Moreover, pledges were made by eminent guests, including UNICEF Country Representative Aida Girma, President of HUM TV Network Sultana Siddiqui, PNCA Director General Dr. Fouzia Saeed and Senior Programme Manager JICA Nazia Seher to help improve the lives of girls and women.
HUM TV Network President Sultana Siddiqui, a pioneer industry leader to women in media, expressed her commitment to Siyani Sahelis and vowed to air their life stories on her channel and invite them to morning shows.
Special Assistant to prime minister on poverty alleviation and social safety Dr. Sania Nishtar lauded the Siyani Sahelian programmme and highlighted the steps taken by the government in bridging gender gap and empowering girls in the country.
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