At IGF 2014, Istanbul Turkey
I had the pleasure to share my story of digital empowerment at the UN’s Internet Governance Forum 2014. The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) took place in Istanbul, Turkey from 2 to 5 September. This UN-initiated body is a multi-stakeholder, non-decision making forum of global importance for forward-looking discussions on Internet issues.
I had the opportunity to present my women empowerment initiative ChunriChoupaal at the flash session. This session was chaired by Leana Mayzlina of World Pulse. I highlighted the issues faced by girls and women to access trainings related to the use of modern information and communication technology and how my women-only center was sensitizing women and girls and exposing them to new horizons of social and economic empowerment.
I am happy to share that I presented the perspective of grassroots level women leaders from World Pulse community of 60,000, at WSIS+10 High Level Event this month. The interventions emphasised on the need for inclusion of more women in the global information society to accelerate their social and economic situation, especially in the developing countries. This current ‘gender’ digital divide calls for more advocacy efforts to enable women’s access to technology, capacity building opportunities and hence, inclusion in global work force. The success of the interventions can be seen via the following statement which was included in the outcome document following our recommendations to the event: Continue reading
A few years ago, I moved to Amsterdam. Amsterdam is home to a hundred and seventy eight nationalities; the ethnic makeup of Amsterdam being 49.5% of Dutch ancestry and 50.5% of foreign origin. I am originally an activist specialized in women and youth empowerment projects. Due to my background in projects to improve female digital literacy in Pakistan, I mostly thought of the lack of resources and opportunities in the developing world. It was after I moved to Europe, that I got the opportunity to observe the digital literacy situation in a cosmopolitan city like Amsterdam.
I started working with women groups, networks and organisations in Amsterdam, working with different nationalities, ethnicities and backgrounds. During my interaction with these groups, I discovered that digital empowerment, especially for women, was needed here too!
Digital illiteracy has two levels; Continue reading
The International Girls in ICT Day is being celebrated globally this year today, on 24 April 2014. The purpose of celebrating the International Girls in ICT Day is an effort to provide an opportunity to empower and encourage girls and young women to consider studies and careers in the growing field of ICTs.
On the occasion of #GirlsInICT Day 2014, EU Commissioner for Digital Agenda, Neelie Kroes has released a video urging women to take part in the campaign digitally. Here is a summary of her Video message:
Speaking about the importance of digital tools that are taking over our world, Neelie Kroes stresses on how important it is for women and girls to take advantage of the unlimited potential these tools offer and the limitless opportunities and achievements it can help provide. “This is a cool new opportunity for every woman too. Working in tech is also exciting, rewarding and great fun! Learning to program or code is a new life opportunity. In the digital age, it is like knowing how to read, write or do maths. Continue reading
During one of my visits to Pakistan, while on a visit to remote areas in the Thal desert of Pakistan, my life took a very interesting turn.
I was documenting the demonstration of student nurses and taking photographs of the chador-clad women sitting in the middle of the road, a rare sight in a remote city like Layyah. Some days later, a few young ladies came to visit me. One of them was Rashda, a fresh graduate from the local college. She had been interviewed for a job at a local relief organisation. The organisation needed female staff for helping out with their female beneficiaries. The only problem was that they needed someone with computer and internet skills. Rashda asked me if I could teach her how to use the computer for data entry in a day. Continue reading
Malina Suliman (Source:http://maloaa3.com/)
Malina Suliman makes graffiti on the walls of Southern Kandahar (Afghanistan), a country which is considered to be the most dangerous place for women.
According to an article posted on Green Prophet, this brave female artist “finds inspiration in Southern Kandahar, birthplace of the Taliban and one of the most dangerous places in the world. She aims to change the cultural environment through sculpture and painting that depicts the challenges of her war-weary generation.” Continue reading
Veero Kohli-Former slave turns politician
Veero Kohli, is the first contestant in General elections in Pakistan to have escaped the thrall of a feudal-style land owner who forced his workers to work in conditions akin to modern-day slavery. In a rural area of Sindh Veero escaped from her captors in the middle of the night and had to walk a long way barefoot, to seek help. After a long ordeal, she finally succeeded in ensuring her own freedom and 39 other labourers including her family. She took the terrifying risk to ensure the safety of her daughters. She feared that the landlord would sexually abuse her daughter.
Her courage and bravery won her the Fredrick Douglas Freedom Award. Continue reading
In one of my previous post, I talked about Coursera platform and the effects it might have on the upcoming education scene worldwide. So far, the free online courses offered by the world class universities (including Harvard and Stanford) through platforms like Coursera did not include credits at completion of a course.
According to this recent article, some universities are also thinking considering offering an introductory course for credit. The idea is to get students interested in the course so that they might want to sign up for a full-time program after completion and pay tuition for a degree program. These universities include Arizona State and University of Cincinnati.
Previous program called MOOC (massively open online course) managed to attract thousands of students (per course.) The new credit program will be called MOOC2 Degree.
Indian celebrity Madhuri Dixit tweeted to her fans about her new iphone App. The app is
available at Apple’s iTunes store now.Currently, a quick google search about Indian Celebrity apps does not show many results which could mean she is one of the first Indian celebrities to have an official app designed for connecting with her fans. The actress who has been active on Twitter for two years now, tweeted that the Android version will be out soon too. Continue reading
Have you heard of the Coursera/Udacity and related online courses which are offered by the world class universites of the world for free? Have you signed up for a course yet?I was curious enough to register for programming course and I was pleasantly surprised. Free education is not always associated automatically with quality. I was curious enough to sign up for a programming course. Continue reading
As Pakistan is moving towards being an economically sound country, the situation for the 52 percent of the country’s population which compromises of women is not catching up with the speed. One of the recent improvement efforts is the introduction of Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Bill 2009, the first legislative step of its kind in the history of the country, which covers effective legal measures, civil remedies and compensatory provisions for the aggrieved persons. Continue reading
Seventeen-year-old Mafia’s brother brutally chopped off her head, ears and nose in the name of ‘honour.’ According to the local newspaper, Mafia had allegedly eloped with the man she loved. The family hunted the couple down and brought them back. It was decided that the two would be married off but in the meantime her brother indulged in the cold-blooded act. Continue reading
A close friend, 19 year old Nazira, wore her best dress one evening. She came to show me her outfit before she went out to see someone ‘special’. Three hours later, she returned devastated; she could hardly speak. She wore a ‘burqa’ on top of what was left of her dress. Her rosy cheeks looked pale and eyes were sore. She was gang raped by the person she went to see and his friends. A male member from her family had seen her in that condition. Continue reading
In Pakistan, 2011 started with a shock. On the 4th of January Punjab Governor Salman Taseer was killed. Shot at close range by his own guard. It shook every intellectual who had a keen interest in the proceedings of the socio-political landscape of Pakistan and it was a particular blow to the relatively liberal mindset of the country. Taseer was allegedly killed due to his opposition of the country’s blasphemy laws and his visit to Pakistan’s first women convict to be given a death sentence. Continue reading
Today Pakistan has buried another leader. Yet another extra-judiciary killing of a political leader has taken place. This time, the target was the Governer of Punjab Salman Taseer. The news came as a shock that the governor was shot by his own security guard when he was on a visit Islamabad. The guard shot from a close range and surrendered himself after the carnage. The incident is thought to plunge the country in a deeper political crisis as the coalition government becomes weaker. A member of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party, the governor was allegedly shot due to his views on the country’s controversial blasphemy laws. Continue reading
Going back to Thal always brings back memories. The sand, the scorching sun, hot air blowing in your face, the content and curious faces of the locals, colorfully clad ladies steering their camel carts. It so remote and yet to me it has always felt so full of life. Continue reading
While going through a session of recapitulation this week, evaluating my accomplishments, failures and learnings, I wondered where my journey to think ‘beyond me’ started. My personal vision coincides with my work; design innovative and ground-breaking solutions for the uplift of under-privileged women living in destitute, suffering, poverty, dependence, solitude or shame. Most of these women are main providers or nurturers who get up very early in the morning to pluck cotton from the cotton fields or harvest crops but despite being the vital and basic building block which is pivotal of patriarchal society, they do not get half of the dignity and respect they deserve. Continue reading
Change is…not so slow afterall!
More than ten years ago, when a network of social workers and human right activists started advocacy work in Multan District, (Pakistan) it seemed impossible to reach women living in absolute poverty, most of whom were not allowed to leave homes and had no role in decision making at any level. Being the most illiterate and ‘closed’ segments of the society, they were completely un-welcoming to outsiders especially the ‘shameless’ female social workers who stepped out of their house’s boundaries and came to preach emancipation to them. These… no, us… the so-called ‘shameless-westernized-whorish and often baypardah’ (veil-less) women had a tough job ahead and were taught perseverance under the slogan; ‘change comes slowly.’ Continue reading
I was born in North Africa and spent most years of my teen life on the sunny Mediterranean island of Malta! I moved back to Pakistan at the age of 17 which was a bit of a culture shock with respect to people’s lifestyle. Despite being a developing nation, I started to observe so many habits, customary practices and behaviours in the people in my surrounding communities which did not aide their livelihoods but further exacerbated their economic situation. Continue reading