On 29 October 2020, the British Council Pakistan and the Pakistan Alumni Association of Commonwealth Scholars (PAACS) held an online panel discussion on the topic of ‘Gender Issues in Employment’.

Addressing common issues of gender discrimination in the workplace, the panel discussed the need for improvements to employment conditions and how to foreground gender rights in achieving this aim. The panel was comprised of Commonwealth Alumni and external speakers with expertise in gender, disability, sustainable development, and human resources. The organisers were pleased to welcome 32 Commonwealth Alumni to this event.

Meeting the panel

The discussion panel consisted of three Commonwealth Alumni and a special representative with expertise in Human Resources (HR) and employment related matters.

Madeeha Maqbool, 2017 Commonwealth Scholar, MSc Public Financial Management, SOAS, University of London

Madeeha is a gender specialist, currently works for the Government of Pakistan in the Audit and Accounts Service. She has taught public finance and policy to young bureaucrats.

Faran Mahmood, 2012 Commonwealth Scholar, MPhil Engineering for Sustainable Development, University of Cambridge

Faran has a background in development studies with expertise in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and a full spectrum of advisory, policy, fund-raising, and programme management experience in government, and international, and local development sectors.

Khadija Amir, 2014 Commonwealth Shared Scholar, MSc Sustainable Development, University of Exeter

Khadija is the current President of the Pakistan Alumni Association Commonwealth Scholars (PAACS) and moderated the panel discussion.

Sadia Zahid, HR Representative

Sadia is a certified Human Resource Practitioner (HRP) from Concord Cooperation, Canada with expertise in corporate recruiting, staffing, retrenching valued resources, interviewing, and assessing human potential.

Guided by experience

The panel discussion was guided by a series of questions relating to gender issues in employment submitted by alumni ahead of the event. These ranged from the impact of stereotypical gender roles in preventing people from achieving potential in professional settings, to the effects of using gender-neutral language as a means of minimising sexual harassment, and whether gender was a factor in employment barriers for youth.

The panellists responded to the array of topics that had been raised by alumni, drawing on insights from their professional expertise to propose ways that gender discrimination in the workplace and more broadly in daily life could be alleviated.

Following the panel discussion, attendees were invited to take part in a Q&A session. During this session, alumni attendees highlighted further important questions around female employee turnover in Pakistan, gender and the glass ceiling, and the impact of the literacy rate.

This event provided Commonwealth Alumni with an important opportunity to explore challenging issues of gender discrimination in Pakistan and envisage future strategies for supporting gender rights and equity in the workplace.

The event was organised under the umbrella of the CSC development theme, ‘Access, inclusion and opportunity’.