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Empowering Women in Pakistan: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Young Women to Receive Scholarships for Master’s Degree Program at AIT

03 May 2024
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By AIT Public Affairs

3 May 2024: Thirty young women from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province in Pakistan will receive scholarships to pursue master’s programs at the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT). This initiative, established through a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) signed on 3 May 2024, between AIT and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Cities Improvement Project (KPCIP), marks a significant step forward in advancing educational and professional opportunities for women in the region. It aims to contribute to human resource development and enhance urban infrastructure and service delivery in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

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Group of students at AUST, Pakistan

Prof. Kazuo Yamamoto, President of AIT, and Mr. Syed Zafar Ali Shah, Project Director, KPCIP, signed the MoA to formalize this cooperation. This initiative is funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB). As per the agreement, the institute will enroll 30 female students across various disciplines, with a particular emphasis on fields relevant to the development sector as outlined in KPCIP’s Gender Action Plan. The students must meet AIT’s admission criteria, and upon successful completion of the program, they will be awarded a master’s degree. This initiative aims to grant approximately 30 scholarships by December 2027.

H.E. Mr. Arshad Ayub Khan, Honorable Minister of Local Government Elections and Rural Development Department, Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, commended AIT and ADB for their roles in creating opportunities that empower women, enabling them to excel in male-dominated fields and contribute profoundly to societal development. He highlighted that upon their return, these women would not only serve as role models but also enhance Pakistan’s image internationally by showcasing the skills they have learned in a diverse environment.

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President Kazuo Yamamoto underscored that the collaboration strengthens the ties between AIT and Pakistan and promotes the advancement of women professionals in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. He emphasized that this initiative, which has been made possible with the support of ADB, is crucial in fostering gender-friendly programs and contributing to the development of communities worldwide. He further committed that AIT will continue to support and expand our cooperation, paving the way for more success and mutual growth.

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Mr. Syed Zafar Ali Shah stressed the importance of providing higher education opportunities to female graduates. This program not only promotes human resource development but also improves urban infrastructure and service delivery in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Additionally, it creates a pathway for professional growth and development for women in the region.

Dr. Sumana Shrestha, Director of the International Affairs Unit at the Office of International and Public Affairs (OIPA) at AIT, who coordinated this partnership from AIT, emphasized the longstanding partnership between AIT and Pakistan. AIT has played a significant role in regional human resource development by offering various capacity-building programs. She pointed out that such scholarships provide a valuable opportunity for individuals to learn in an international environment, enhance their capacities, and equip themselves to tackle challenges in the region and beyond.  

This educational initiative is a transformative step towards gender equality and empowerment in the region. It aligns with global efforts to improve academic access and equality for all.

KPCIP is designed to enhance the livability of five cities in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province (KPK)—Abbottabad, Kohat, Mardan, Mingora, and Peshawar. This will be achieved by expanding physical investments in urban water, sewerage, solid waste disposal, and green infrastructure. Additionally, the project will provide institutional support to enhance service delivery and the performance of municipal companies. It also aims to promote gender-friendly municipal services through empowerment and capacity development. Approximately 3.5 million people in these cities will benefit from the project. This initiative aligns with the government’s development priorities, as outlined in the KPK Water Act (2020), the amended Local Government Act (2019), the Integrated Water Resource Management Strategy for KPK, and Pakistan’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

The event was attended by notable figures, including Mr. Dawood Khan, Secretary of Local Government Elections and Rural Development Department, Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa; Mr. Innayat Ullah Waseem, ADB Representative For KPCIP; Ms. Mahnaz Iftikhar, Director of Gender and Inclusion of PMU KPCIP and distinguished delegates from PMU KPCIP. From AIT the signing was attended by Prof. Nitin K. Tripathi, Acting Vice President for Academic Affairs; Prof. Sangam Shrestha, Dean of School of Engineering and Technology and Co-Director of Global Water and Sanitation Center; Prof. Abdul P. Salam, Dean of School of Environment, Resources and Development; Dr. Tenzin Rabgyal, Director of Office of Student Affairs; Ms. Indra Kumari, Senior Program Officer of International Affairs, OIPA; Ms. Sirima Sirimattayanan, Senior Program Officer of International Affairs, OIPA and Mr. Dipesh Dhoj GC, Digital Media Officer of Public Affairs, OIPA. 

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