ISLAMABAD – More than 200 students, activists, and educators discussed best practices for combating gender-based violence on December 3 at Islamabad’s National University of Science and Technology (NUST). Hosted by the Pakistan-U.S. Alumni Network (PUAN) and NUST, the event was part of PUAN’s outreach to highlight the ongoing 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence (GBV) campaign. The international campaign started on November 25, the International Day of Elimination of Violence against Women, and will end on December 10, International Human Rights Day.
Minister Counselor for Public Affairs Peter Brennan of the U.S. Embassy delivered remarks to open the event. “The U.S. government remains committed to addressing gender based violence,” Brennan said. “One of the key ways we do so is through exchange programs that provide Pakistani professionals with opportunities to build their capacity and to share best practices.”
PTV World anchor Sidra Iqbal moderated a panel of experts who were all alumni of U.S. government sponsored exchange programs: Ms. Aqsa Ghairat Ali Khan, Executive Director of the Women’s Organization for Rights and Development (WORD); Mr. Syed Irfan Haider, Director of Operations of Acid Survivors Foundation; and Ms. Ayesha Saddique Khan, barrister and member of the Islamabad High Court. Panelists discussed how to strengthen local efforts to prevent violence against women, and ways activists can develop and share new and effective strategies.
“The 16 Days campaign offers an opportunity to renew the global commitment to free women and girls from violence,” Minister Counselor Brennan concluded. “We all need to work together — the international community, governments, private sector companies, civil society, and grassroots-level advocates—to raise awareness of gender-based violence as a human rights issue.”
PUAN is one of the largest U.S. exchange alumni networks in the world. Its mission is to encourage people-to-people relationships between Pakistanis and Americans. More than 13,000 students and professionals are members of PUAN, which organizes a number of events across Pakistan, including community service projects, leadership trainings, roundtable discussions, and community engagement activities.