NEW YORK (Staff Report) – In recognition of her work in development of the ICTs and particularly her practical initiatives for the cause of “women empowerment through technology”, two United Nation organizations, ITU and UN Women have jointly awarded Minister of State for IT, Mrs. Anusha Rahman Khan, the prestigious “GEM-TECH Global Achievers” award for 2015.
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The award was conferred in ceremony held jointly by the ITU, UN Women and the City of New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly High level meeting in New York. This annual award recognizes leadership role in advancing women’s meaningful engagement with ICTs and their role as decision-makers and producers within this sector
The award is a recognition of the Ministers role in impacting on the status and quantum of the ICT sector in Pakistan having brought the country closer to the international pace of growth in the IT and Telecom industry and particularly that enable enhanced role of women in the sector as well as enhanced benefit of women in general from ICT services and systems. ITU and UN Women have also recognized several other policy and legislative initiatives undertaken by her with direct relevance to the subject of women empowerment in general.
The Minister’s initiatives of direct significance include technical ICT skill development and capacity building program particularly for disadvantaged women from the lowest strata of the society to enable self employment opportunities for them.
In her special initiative for Girls, MoIT has partnered with Microsoft Corporation to increase access for all girls particularly those extremely disadvantaged, to learn computer and communication skills. Besides the bedrock component for improving digital literacy of young girls particularly focused trainings will be delivered to these girls, at purpose specific facilities and infrastructure being funded by the Universal Services Fund (USF), for commercially relevant certification in software coding and simple application development through intuitive and simple and non-complex interface.
This program, which in its inaugural year 2016 will enable economic opportunity for thousands of girls every year, and will be replicated for hundreds and thousands of youth and women through institutionalization in more 500 purpose built Telecenters also being launched by the USF program in the next two years through Public Private Partnership with the industry through a subsidy funding.
Another focus has been accorded to development of technology entrepreneurship culture in women in the TechCity mega startup incubator program being steered by the Minister through the National ICT R&D Fund, in the federal capital Islamabad in the first phase and later in all provincial capitals.
Mentorship, commercial, legal and financial help will be provided to enterprising youth particularly girls to take their “techpreneurship” ideas from minds to the markets. In the same spirit and due to her strenuous efforts, not only volume of Prime minister’s internship program enhanced to 3000 per annum but also a 30% quota has been fixed for girls
Besides other benefits from the widely acclaimed launch of Next Generation Mobile Services, particular focus has been laid to enhance the e-commerce industry of Pakistan by making online transactions readily available to the buyers and facilitating the entrepreneurs to undertake such endeavors more aggressively.
The development is expected to encourage the women handicraft makers/artisans of Pakistan who form an enormous chunk of the country’s cottage industry to take their financial matters in their own hands.
Another important initiative that was started by the Minister was the draft legislation of the Cyber Crime Bill. The legislation which is in the final process of parliamentary approvals, is in particular a flagship initiative in terms of its provisions to ensure safety, security and protection of women from online abuse and harassment and provides specific offences and penalties to offenders on these counts.
The Global agencies, besides these direct contributions also recognized her other policy and legislative initiatives with direct relevance to the subject of women empowerment including her work relating to Women empowerment Package in Punjab which included provisions for 33% quota for women in Policy and decision making boards, guaranteed inheritance right, protection from Harassment at workplace as well as Facilitation measures for raising young kids. This package also provided support to women entrepreneurs through specialized interest free loan program to spur women entrepreneurship.
Recently approved Telecom policy 2015 also enables provisioning of initiatives with a special focus for empowerment of youth and particularly women. In her acceptance remarks at the Award ceremony, Anusha Rahman thanking the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, the ITU and UN Women said that, “This award is dedicated to the people of Pakistan and particularly to young girls and Women of my Country who if provided the right opportunities, have the potential to contribute to the achievement of global development agenda.
There is a need to maximize collaboration and joint working under a strategic global partnership to open up the universe of ICT powered opportunity that the women of the world have been waiting for and which they well and truly deserve”, she added.