UN Women Promotes Women’s Empowerment through Food Tech

This week UN Women, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, organized a skills development workshop on ‘Women and Food Tech Sharing Economy: Employability and Empowerment’ to enable women to focus on self-efficiency and resourcefulness through innovation. The training took place at Hospitality Inn from 25th to 29th January and was widely attended.

Participants included social entrepreneurs, international and local NGOs, home-based workers (including marginalized and transgender), technology institutes, IT students, food bloggers and representatives from UN agencies in Lahore, Islamabad and Karachi.

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Mr. Vimlendu Jha and Mr. Pratik Kumar, social entrepreneurs from India, were invited to facilitate the workshop. Training sessions were based on their successful pioneering social venture in India called “Million Kitchen”, a mobile-based home food ordering platform that enables home cooked meals to be delivered at the doorstep. The aim of UN Women’s initiative is to introduce and replicate this innovative approach for women home-based workers in Pakistan, and enable them to access new markets and create income generation through ICT, and further create employability, enterprise development and women’s economic empowerment.

UN Women brought together a diverse array of stakeholders who discussed, experimented and tested their prototypes throughout the workshop. Participants received training on administration, budgeting and ICT, all leading up to a practicum on Thursday 28th of January. Home-based workers successfully sold their home cooked food online, using the Million Kitchen app here.

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On Friday 29th of January at the closing session all participants shared their positive experiences, and UN Women’s Country Representative Mr. Jamshed M. Kazi said:

“For UN Women Pakistan, innovation is not just another buzzword. It is a way of thinking and doing, which we aim to infuse in all other areas of our work, including ending violence against women and women and humanitarian response. The support from the Government of Denmark to enable us to think outside the box and bring along diverse partners from CSOs to private sector, universities and the Punjab government, has been a key ingredient for a successful test run of the “Million kitchen” model.”

Ms. Fauzia Viqar, Chair of the Provincial Commission on the Status of Women, Government of Punjab, welcomed the initiative and urged the participants to continue the project.

Ms. Tehzeeb Baqar, Programme Officer of HomeNet Pakistan said the workshop had been different, as usually training for women focus on traditional skills, while this week they had learned to challenge themselves to think in a more innovative way regarding women’s skills.

As Secretary General of the Home-based Women Workers Federation (HBWWF), Ms. Zehra Khan, stressed that it is important to ensure that women are not left behind within technology, and she therefore found this initiative very promising.

Closing remarks were given by the chief guest Ms. Amna Imam, Secretary for Women and Development Department (WDD), Government of Punjab. She applauded the women for taking the opportunity to learn about economic empowerment and encouraged the participants to use these skills for income generation.

The workshop was also attended by Danish Embassy in Pakistan, Pakistan Innovation Foundation, WeCreate, Lahore College for Women University, School of Leadership in Karachi, Million Kitchen and other implementing partners.