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February 24, 2021

ITU launches programme to focus on women’s issues

Lahore

February 24, 2021

LAHORE:Lincoln Corner Lahore, a partnership between the US Embassy and Information Technology University (ITU), launched its series ‘The 50%’ here on Tuesday with a talk on ‘Women in Science’.

Explaining the series, Dr Yaqoob Khan Bangash, Director External Linkages, ITU, said that “this series focuses on exploring women and their issues in Pakistan and beyond, with the aim of developing academic and policy recommendations to further gender parity and full and accessible participation of women in all walks of life, as envisioned in the UN’s sustainable development goals.” Talking about her personal journey, Dr Aida Todri-Sanial, the Director of Research at the French National Council of Scientific Research, noted that it was certainly challenging for her and often ‘it is very lonely for a woman to be in science.’ Dr Natasha Anwar, a professor at Aga Khan University, said that she did not feel that she was a ‘woman’ doing science till she came to Pakistan.

Agreeing with the difficulties of women scientists, Ms Rita Akhter, the Executive Director of the Fulbright Commission in Pakistan, noted that in her experience a main challenge was ‘getting married before embarking on a career in science.’ Dr Natasha seconded it and said that ‘till I was married I was not taken very seriously.’ ‘As soon as I got married, somehow I was sent to more conferences, had more attention,’ she noted.

Continuing the conversation, Dr Aida noted that in Europe the challenge is to keep women in science especially in the 30-44 age bracket when most of them are starting families. ‘This dropout costs the European economy at least 16 billion euros a year, and so it no small matter,’ Dr Aida noted.

Identifying the solutions, Dr Aida said that in a male dominated world, women role models are critical. ‘We need to work on mentorship, sponsoring and life-long learning,’ she underscored.