The information and communication technology (ICT) initiative for girls empowerment organized by ministry of information technology in collaboration with Bait-ul-mal, Universal Services Fund and Microsoft launched here on Friday.
Under the initiative USF and Bait-ul-Mal singed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to impart latest computer knowledge to girls across the country.
Managing Director Pakistan Bait-ul-Mal, Mr. Abid Waheed Sheikh and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) USF signed the agreement on behalf of their respective organizations. The event was also witnessed by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and State Minister for Information Technology Anusha Rehman.
According to the agreement in initial phase Microsoft would upgrade 50 IT labs of Bait-ul-Mal with state of the art facilities to impart latest computer knowledge to girls across the country. The program is comprised on 4 Cs including computing, coding, and communication and coaching. In the first phase 50 labs will be equipped where around 5000 girls will benefit in first round.
Ishaq Dar Finance Minister said that Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) would provide free of the cost internet facility while 5 laptops would be given to outstanding students.
The Minister said that incumbent government is committed towards “an all inclusive society” with enhanced empowerment of women through a well structured enabling environment that could guarantee their financial autonomy. “We are conscious of our social responsibility role. The significant increase on social safety net manifests this resolve”, he added.
“Through technological capacity building, the girls under this program shall prove to be an asset for the economic engine of the country. I must appreciate Ministry of IT and other partners in the program for their valuable role in this noble cause and look forward to scale it further to benefit more girls from this program”, said Mr. Dar.
Dar said that the event was an important step towards national building with a highly noble underlying theme. He said that government is actively pursuing the agenda of economic growth with increased job opportunities for talented youth.
He further said that in line with PML (N) manifesto, they are committed to provide job opportunities through ICT growth. All endeavors are aligned with this goal. Pakistan’s future is bright and the government is determined to achieve its true potential for the benefit of our people.
Finance Minister said from now on-wards the government focus would be on employment generation after reducing fiscal deficit to 4 per cent from 8 per cent during last two years.
The current 4 per cent fiscal deficit he said was internationally acceptable for developing countries, adding that the reduction in fiscal deficit was achieved by imposing a ban on duty free import of vehicles for VIPs and saving from current expenditure.
However, he admitted that the country needs more economic reforms for sustainable progress on the economic front and took credit for increasing allocation on social safety net to Rs 102 billion during the last two years.
Minister for state Information Technology Anusha Rehman said that this project is a step to empower women. She said under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif we are heading toward socio-economic progress.
“Through this initiative, we aim to reach thousands of girls enrolled in Bait-ul-Mal women empowerment centers across the country by providing those fully equipped computer labs and a comprehensive computer software training and coaching program under the auspices of Microsoft”, said Anusha.
She further said that government is planning to scale ICT for girls’ initiative and make it available to a wider section. It will also be launched in our Telecentres. She said that girls trained in software skills can earn a livelihood by working even from homes.
Anusha Rahman said the initiative is the beginning. We intend to leverage ICT as key driver of bridging social gap. Making our women and girls more empowered and up skilled is the manifesto of our Government. We are in active collaboration with all key partners and stake holders with an objective of enabling the daughters and sisters of our country to equip with modern skills that can help them stand on their own feet in terms of financial sustenance and contribution for the economy”
The Microsoft Country head Nadeem pledged to play their critical role in empowering the women of Pakistan through effective use of technology. He appreciated MoIT’s role for enabling key partnerships towards highly social centric subjects.
MD Bait-ul-mal Abid Waheed Sheikh lauded the government cooperation as a unique blend of corporate social responsibility of different organizations. He fully committed himself to its successful completion.
Chairperson of National Commission on Status of Women Khawar termed it highly remarkable initiative of increasing employability potential of young girls.
CEO USF explained the scope of the program whereby the hardware in women empowerment centers will be equipped by USF and software skill development will be done by Microsoft.