Islamabad - United States Agency for International Development Acting Deputy Mission Director Christopher Steel said on Tuesday that women should be given an opportunity to learn for empowerment. Christopher Steel spoke to the participants from academia, public, private, and non-profit sectors at a programme sponsored by the USAID-supported Training for Pakistan activity. Steel said, “We all should realise that for a woman to advance, it is critical that she is given the opportunity to learn. It is equally important that the ecosystem in which she operates empowers her to achieve whatever form of success she has defined for herself.”

He added, “Through the Pathways to Success Programme, USAID is assisting Pakistani women and girls in acquiring marketable skills, preparing them for the workplace, and encouraging them to explore employment opportunities and entrepreneurial endeavours.” By improving opportunities for adolescent girls to access the knowledge and technical skills they need, we empower them to make better lives for themselves, their families, communities, and the country, he said.

The discussion was moderated by Moneeza Hashmi, mentoring coordinator for the USAID-supported Pathways to Success National Mentoring Programme. Panellists for the 1st session included beneficiaries of the programme along with their parents. Panellists for the 2nd discussion included Kiran Khan, female Olympic swimmer for Pakistan, Hajra Khan, female footballer and captain of the Pakistan Women’s National Football Team, Amra Mubashir, lead culture, engagement, and diversity officer at a beverages company, Ather Viqar Azeem, senior vice president at a television network, Danielle Sharaf, technology entrepreneur and Faheem Hamid, director sales at a private airline.

The USAID Training for Pakistan activity helped more than 3,000 young women from underserved areas of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh to gain the skills they need to build meaningful careers, a US embassy statement said. More than 30 high-achieving and prominent women from IT, business, law, micro finance, banking, academia, arts, sports, and media have volunteered their participation in a national mentor network for 300 girls under the USAID-supported mentorship programme, the statement further said. The mentors meet with their adolescent mentees and families at least twice a month to guide them on how to overcome challenges and pave the way for professional success.

The USAID Training for Pakistan activity is a multi-year initiative aimed at providing the participants training in the areas of education, energy, economic growth and agriculture, health, and stabilisation and governance.

The activity utilises a broad range of training resources, contributing to the capacity development of USAID partners in line with development objectives of the government of Pakistan, the statement said, adding that the US government had demonstrated its commitment to increasing opportunities for Pakistani women during panel discussion focused on education, economic participation and gender equality.