ISLAMABAD: As many as 22 women Vice Chancellors, Provosts, Executive Directors and Deans from Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) across Pakistan logged in to participate in a workshop with an aim to enable women in leadership roles in universities.
The workshop entitled “Collaboration for Excellence – Women Leadership in the Higher Education Sector” was organized by the National Academy of Higher Education (NAHE).
All participants had one goal in mind – to work together and find a way to enable women in leadership roles in universities as well as those on the cusp of leadership positions.
The participants from all four provinces and Islamabad were part of this groundbreaking conversation chaired by Dr. Shaheen Sardar Ali, Rector NAHE.
Reflecting on personal and professional experiences, women at the forefront of higher education in Pakistan talked through challenges confronted in their professional life, how they overcame them and opportunities that helped them.
Dr. Rukhsana Kausar, Vice Chancellor, Government College Women University (GCWU) Sialkot touched upon the unique challenges of women working without support structures and financial cushions in place. Dr. Farhat Haq, Provost, Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) spoke about the edge that Pakistani women hold in the shape of strength and resilience.
Dr. Saima Hamid, Vice Chancellor, Fatima Jinnah Women University (FJWU) reiterated how women leaders in higher education had to fight to be heard and to have their contributions seen. Dr. Parveen Munshi, Vice Chancellor, University of Sufism and Modern Sciences spoke of the administrative and financial competencies that need to be learned on the job, because most institutions lack preparatory capacity building opportunities.
Dr Tashmin Khamis, Vice Provost, Aga Khan University (AKU) touched a chord with all participants when she spoke of the further justifications women have to give when making changes or suggestions and the constant ‘guilt’ trip women employees find themselves taking.
Themes that became clear through the course of the discussion and which will form part of the ‘Women leadership Program’, included women’s perception of self, social structures that may work for or against women, the need for networking and reiterating ideas, and the crucial role of good mentorship.
Becoming part of the ‘power circle’ or ‘decision-makers circle’ within universities can be challenging for women; information sharing, and decision making can happen in social settings which may not be accessible to women.
In the time ahead, participants hoped to collaborate and work together to address these challenges, create opportunities, and provide women at the cusp of leadership with the resources they need.
Going forward, NAHE intends to draw upon the ideas generated by this incredible group of women leaders to design and implement excellence and leadership courses across Pakistan, both centrally and through regional hubs of learning.
This virtual engagement is one of several and on-going workshops NAHE intends to hold with women working in HEIs to support and widen the pool of women in leadership positions.
NAHE is established as a stand-alone, autonomous institution operating under the auspices of HEC to improve the quality of teaching, research, and governance in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) across Pakistan.
It is envisioned as the premier institution for quality research and teaching related to all aspects of higher education in Pakistan. This series of trainings is one of multiple ongoing NAHE endeavours at HEC.