First-ever career fair paves the way for women in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province

A group photo of the organizers of the Women’s Employability Summit and Career Fair, shared by the Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Women University.
Updated 01 February 2018

First-ever career fair paves the way for women in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province

PESHAWAR: A two-day career fair that ended on Thursday will encourage women to expand their work horizons in traditionally male-dominated Pushtun society, organizers believe.

The Women’s Employability Summit and Career Fair, organized by Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Women University in Peshawar, was the first of its kind in Pakistan’s conservative Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province.

Students and graduates from 21 women’s colleges of KP and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) attended the fair, where they met more than 30 employers who offered jobs to graduates and internships to students, said Sehrish Zafar, assistant director university advancement and media.

She said that the university had signed an agreement with the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority (SMEDA) that will allow it to take over the Women Business Development Center of SMEDA, which helps students and graduates launch startups.

About 30 stalls offered promotions at the fair. Sana Ikram, of Fazaia College of Education for Women, who was managing a Montessori education stall, said: “Our institution offers one-year diploma and also short courses in the Montessori method of education. We are here to raise awareness among people about this method of education because we offer training for teachers.”

Items on display in the stall had been brought from Australia and included numerical rods to teach numeracy to children and geometrical insets that help pupils learn how to hold pencils.

Ikram said that women in KP mostly prefer teaching jobs and face problems in other fields.

Zahwa Khan, a 22-year-old student at the university, runs a business from home cutting and polishing gemstones with help from her brother. She said online videos had taught her techniques to improve her work.

Women had been given the role of housewife in society, but events such as the career fair sent a message that they could do many other things, including jobs and businesses, she said.

Fariha Jaffar Bajwa, a member of the National Commission on the Status of Women, told Arab News that the event was unique in KP because it was exclusively for women. She said there was a time when women would be barred from education but now their education rate was improving.

“It’s the same in the case of jobs,” she said. “Although jobs and businesses at one time were not considered appropriate for women, now society is changing — but change doesn’t come overnight,” she said.

“According to law, women also have a 10 percent quota in jobs, in addition to open merit, but the implementation of the law is an issue,” said Bajwa, a lawyer based in Islamabad.

The university’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Dr. Razia Sultana, said that the province would have a strong job market in future and that the region would be a business hub under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project.

“The special economic zones being developed in KP require people with professional and other skills and hopefully these will employ a good number of women,” she said.

Sultana said several companies had offered jobs and internships to graduates and students at the event, including Jubilee Insurance, with 100 positions, and Pearl Continental, with three positions.

“Boys often have networks and job opportunities. Today’s career fair for female graduates and students is like a network to raise awareness among both employers and students, and to bridge the gap between the academic and applied sides,” she said.

Students often married during or shortly after their studies, and the career fair also provided graduates with "soft" jobs they could do at home to support their families, Sultana said.


Indian govt slammed over poor ranking in global hunger index

Visitors try out food at 'Bengaluru Aaharotsava', a 3-day vegetarian food festival, in Bangalore on October 18, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 19 October 2019

Indian govt slammed over poor ranking in global hunger index

  • This ranking reveals a colossal failure in Govt policy and blows the lid off the PM’s hollow ‘sabka vikas’ (development for all) claim,” tweeted Rahul Gandhi, who leads the opposition Congress party

NEW DELHI: India’s poor rating in the Global Hunger Index (GHI) has come in for sharp criticism, with the opposition calling it a “colossal failure of government policy.”
The GHI showed that India ranked 102 in the database of 117 nations and trailed its smaller South Asian neighbors Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. In 2000, India ranked 83 out of 113 nations.
The index is designed to measure and track hunger at a global, regional, and national level. The report, which was released on Wednesday, was a joint effort between Irish aid agency Concern Worldwide and German organization Welt Hunger Hilfe.
“This ranking reveals a colossal failure in Govt policy and blows the lid off the PM’s hollow ‘sabka vikas’ (development for all) claim,” tweeted Rahul Gandhi, who leads the opposition Congress party.
Thomas Isaac, finance minister in the southern state of Kerala, said: “The slide started with PM (Narendra) Modi’s ascension. In 2014 India was ranked 55. In 2017 it slipped to 100 and now to the levels of Niger and Sierra Leone. The majority of the world’s hungry now resides in India.”
The GHI score is based on four indicators — undernourishment; child wasting (children below five who have a low weight for their height, reflecting acute undernutrition); child stunting, (children under the age of five who have low height for their age, reflecting chronic undernutrition); and child mortality, the mortality rate of children under the age of five.
“India’s child wasting rate is extremely high at 20.8 percent, the highest for any country,” the report said. It added that, with a score of 30.3, India suffered from a level of hunger that was serious.

BACKGROUND

The Global Hunger Index showed that India ranked 102 in the database of 117 nations and trailed its smaller South Asian neighbors Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. In 2000, India ranked 83 out of 113 nations.

International NGO Save the Children  said the government needed to focus on wasting and stunting. Other low- and middle-income countries in the world which are faring better have actually scored better than India in those two areas, it added.
“There are nearly 1.8 million children in the country who are wasting and for that we will need comprehensive interventions, including the provision of therapeutic foods for such children to be managed at a community level,” it told Arab News.
The NGO warned of serious social consequences, with wasting leading to impaired cognitive ability and poor learning outcomes. “Furthermore, for underweight and stunted girls, it invokes a vicious cycle whereby initial malnutrition with early child-bearing gets translated into poor reproductive health outcomes.”
Arab News contacted the Child and Family Welfare Ministry for comment but did not get a response.
Nepal ranks 73 in the index, Sri Lanka is placed at 66, Bangladesh is in 88th place, Myanmar is at the 69th spot and Pakistan ranks 94.
The GHI said these countries were also in the serious hunger category, but that their citizens fared better than India’s.