A Tribute to Canadian Partners

Director Foundational Learning
for the Economic Empowerment of Women

Young women have very few opportunities in developing nations to access quality education. At the end of my PhD, I had the opportunity to conduct a needs assessment for women across Pakistan.

Many young women cried that they have almost no chance to develop strong careers because of their weak academic background. Consequently, they are crippled economically and have very few opportunities to be independent.

Upon completion of my PhD, I decided to invest time into foundational learning for women. I discussed the results of my needs assessment with a Canadian engineer, a friend I met during my studies at McGill University. After a two-day intensive meeting in Chicago, we developed the framework for a program mandated to assist women through foundational learning courses.

My friend left Chicago with a promise to develop a team to assist in the project.

Promise Kept
To my surprise, she mobilized a team of 30 individuals across Canada, mostly with engineering backgrounds, who enthusiastically developed the Women’s Mathematics Enhancement Program, the Women’s Physics Enhancement Program, and a leadership training program.

The team of volunteers joined undergraduate, master’s and PhD students with working professionals. I was amazed at the way they worked electronically, some creating math and physics modules, while others served as experts for reviewing modules.

Yet another volunteer developed a website that facilitated communication and information exchange amongst Canadian team members.

I was very touched. I have not seen or met all of these people but I have never come across such an enthusiastic group. These individuals banded together to work for the enhancement of women unknown and invisible to them, and to further the knowledge and skills of these women in math and physics.

Summer of Success
As part of the Foundational Learning for the Economic Empowerment of Women Program, much work took place this summer. The Women’s Mathematics Enhancement Program, one module from the Women’s Physics Enhancement Program and the locally developed Women’s English Enhancement Program were piloted in four areas across Pakistan – Punjab, Sindh, Upper Chitral and Lower Chitral – with almost 200 students.

Although most of our Canadian partners will not see first-hand the impact of their work, they are indeed creating long-term effects and changing lives. For this, I salute them.


The Pakistan Project

Above, student participants in the program in Lower Chitral; below, Calgary members of the curriculum development team of the Women’s Mathematics Enhancement Program and the Women’s Physics Enhancement. Afshan Kaba, The PEGG’s U of C geoscience columnist, is on the curriculum team and over the summer taught in Pakistan.


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