National Dialogue on Women in Science held at Lahore

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The two-day Conference on “National Dialogue on women in Science “ was organized by UNESCO in partnership with UN-WOMEN, Pakistan Alliance for Maths and Science and Lahore College for Women University on 11-12 February 2019 at  Lahore College for Women University (LCWU), Lahore Pakistan. The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution declaring this day, to achieve full and equal access to and participation in science for women and girls, and further achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.

The main objective of  the Conference  was to exchange experience on how to achieve  Gender Equality in Science, Technology and  Innovation (STI) and Contribution to progress on Sustainable Development Goals-5 (Ensure  women’s  full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life.)

The conference was organized in five Sessions on the following Themes:

  • Role Models and Gender Roles
  • Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship
  • Skills-bridging the gap
  • Science and Health
  • SDG and Youth

The Vice Chancellor of LCWU Prof. Dr. Farkhanda Manzoor welcomed the distinguished guests and thanked the UNESCO and organizers to arrange the important event at her university. She introduced the university and said that it is one of the historic and the largest Women University and is a hub of academic excellence for women empowerment and entrepreneurship in Asia. This institute has played a pivotal role in empowering generations of women by providing quality higher education and has been contributing in the socio-economic development of the country since its inception. She hoped that the conference will provide platform to the participants to devise policy for women in scientific field.

Over 20 panelists and speakers from Indonesia, Malaysia and Pakistan including H.E. Ms. Zartaj Gul, Minister of State for Climate Change, Senator Ms. Aeysha Raza, MNA, Ms. Rabiya Javeri Agha, Federal Secretary for Human Rights, Ms. Shandana Gulzar, Ms. Shagufta Naz, Director Research, LCWU, Ms. Vibeke Jensen, Country Representative of UNESCO in Pakistan, Mr. Salman Naveed Khan, CEO, Pakistan Alliance for Maths and Science, Mr. Jamshed Kazi, Country Representative of UNWOMEN in Pakistan, spoke on the importance of women and girls involvement and participation in all fields of science and shared their experiences with the audience while highlighting the challenges as well as government's initiatives for women and girls to excel in the field of science.

President ECO Science Foundation Prof. Dr. Manzoor Hussain Soomro attended the conference on special invitation by UNESCO. In his speech during the conference, President ECOSF congratulated and appreciated the organizers and partners for this initiative and generating this important Dialogue. Prof Soomro further said that Pakistan faces many development challenges where Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) could help to provide viable solutions to pull the country out of serious economic challenges. He further added that developed nation around the world have exhibited a strong linkage between investments in STI and economic prosperity. Thus, it would be critical for Pakistan to invest heavily in her human capital with focus on STI for socio-economic transformation and to pave the way towards building a prosperous nation.

 Prof. Soomro also said that in general, education system should provide necessary conditions to promote innovative science pedagogy in the classroom while taking advantage of use of ICTs, online educational resources and open resources learning assessment. These innovative pedagogies should not just acquisition of knowledge but they also need to stimulate the curiosity and interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subject with a certain degree of inquisitiveness. A better response to this challenge may well lay in the education of future generations. The young children, through combining the evidence based learning with digital and modern technologies. This combination can be an extremely  powerful aid, which can play a constructive role by Encouraging children to question, negotiate, Challenge and promote rational use of ICTs  and modern technology tools for them to able to construct a sustainable future.

He also shared  that incorporating evidence based learning or Inquiry Based Science Education (IBSE) and judicious use of ICT/modern tools into Schools, College and University Curricula, can  help develop required skills to bridge the gap. This can enable children and youth to be more rational citizens, who base their decisions on the assessment of evidence, the scientific way and make logical use of modern Technology. The ECO science Foundation has undertaken several initiative that supplement and complement its STI programmes with the help of Strategic  partners and collaborators to boost regional cooperation, promote socio-economic potential and cultural integration through promotion of IBSE for STEM education and science Literacy activities in Pakistan and region, he concluded.

The Speakers at the National Dialogue on Women in Science unanimously stressed the need to rapid increase in the opportunities and participation of women and girls in science if the country wanted to achieve Sustainable Development Goals.

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