The Higher Education Commission (HEC), Pakistan is committed to creating a conducive and enabling environment for women to acquire higher education and garner their full potential, as women education and empowerment leads to a prosperous nation.
This was stated by Executive Director HEC, Dr. Shaista Sohail while addressing a virtual ceremony organised on the occasion of International Women’s Day to celebrate achievements of female beneficiaries of HEC-USAID Merit and Needs-based Scholarships and motivate young women to acquire higher education.
Students and alumni from different partner universities of Sindh participated in the online interactive session. Alumni of the programme shared their achievements, experiences, and future plans to inspire the women of less-developed areas to acquire higher education.
In partnership with HEC, the USAID is offering scholarships to financially disadvantaged students to study in 30 partner universities across Pakistan, where 50% of the scholarships are reserved for female students.
Dr. Shaista said that women empowerment and gender equality were also a part of the HEC’s agenda, adding that the Higher Education Vision 2025 also envisaged educated and empowered women. She stated that HEC was encouraging female students, researchers and faculty members in availing its scholarship and research grants. She underlined that HEC followed a zero tolerance policy against women harassment at higher education institutions. She said that the USAID was hand in glove with HEC to contribute to women empowerment through educational endeavours.
In his remarks, Director Offices of Education, USAID, Mr. Mark Sorensen highlighted the importance of women empowerment in development of a country. He said that the USAID Merit and Needs-based Scholarship Programme was aimed to educate and empower the marginalised women of less-developed areas of Pakistan. He said that Pakistan needed more female engineers, entrepreneurs, doctors, teachers, scientists, and professional experts.
Adviser Human Resource Development, HEC Dr. Hassan Jalil Shah said that the USAID programme provided scholarships for meritorious, but financially disadvantaged, students since 2004. Under the programme’s first phase, 1,807 scholarships were given in fields of Agriculture and Business. He added that second phase of the programme was launched in 2013 at a total estimated cost of US$23.1 million. He said that 570 scholarships were awarded to students from different less-developed areas of Sindh, as the programme opened doors to talented students from across Pakistan. He added that the USAID also organised capacity building workshops to equip students for future challenges.
USAID Director for Sindh and Balochistan Mr. Jim Parys stressed the need for efforts to ensure women’s economic and social independence. He appreciated the HEC administration for collaborating with the USAID in implementing its MNBS programme. This is a major development, contributing to a ‘Roshan Pakistan’, he remarked