CABI recognises the important role women play in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) including in the agricultural industry – helping to ensure greater food security for millions around the world.

As part of International Women’s Day (IWD) today, which this year has the theme #EmbraceEquity, colleagues at CABI’s centre in Pakistan have marked the occasion with an event focused on ‘DigitALL: Innovation and Technology for Gender Equality.’

The event, held under the auspice of the CABI-led PlantwisePlus programme that recently launched in Pakistan, was an opportunity for CABI staff and guests to pay tribute to the hard-working women and youth and to join hands to work more closely towards the global goal of improving food security.

Those who attended the event included Sajida Taj, Deputy Director, Agricultural Extension, and Dr Tahira Yasmeen, both from the Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC), Samina Nazir, President Potohar Organization for Development Advocacy (PODA), Dr Naeem Aslam, Country Coordinator PlantwisePlus.

Commitment to women’s rights

The primary objective of the event was to raise awareness and make the participants conscious of their issues, so as to prompt their commitment towards women rights.

This is in alignment with CABI’s Medium-Term Strategy 2023-2025 and one of its five goals which aims to help reduce inequality through better opportunities for rural women and youth.

The grounds of CABI’s centre in Rawalpindi was branded in the colours of IWD – with visually appealing white and purple coloured celestial balloons, IWD themed banners and a wall of commitment that was signed by staff pledging to help reduce inequalities faced by women around the world.

As part of the celebrations an interactive panel discussion was held after Sajila Sohail Khan, Gender Coordinator at CABI, welcomed the participants and started by highlighting the rationale behind celebrating IWD.

Sajila said that IWD is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. She highlighted that gender inclusiveness is vital to any society and essential to economic prosperity.

There is a persistent lack of representation of the Pakistani woman on access to opportunities and especially in digitalization. Keeping in view, the critical need of unifying the scattered voice of women in the local tech landscape to enable diversity, there is a dire need to establish a platform with a focused agenda to support and encourage Pakistani female to actively participate in the technology and digitalization, she said.

Sajida Taj, Deputy Director, Agricultural Extension at PARC, speaks at CABI in Pakistan as part of International Women’s Day (Credit: CABI).

Panel discussion

The panel discussion itself followed two themes.

The first focussed on the role of rural women in agricultural production, and how women can assert more of a voice to make it more inclusive agriculture.

The second looked at climate change adaptation and mitigation making rural women and girls more resilient to these challenges moving forward.

Women’s voice

Sajida Taj said women can assert more of a voice to make a more inclusive agricultural industry. She stated that women are important partners in agriculture particularly in rural settings and their role cannot be denied.

Women contribute largely towards major crop production in addition to their household activities. But despite their tremendous efforts, they do not receive a fair share of the income generated from this work, she said.

However, family support is very important and we should constructively engage our boys and men within couples and communities as partners to advocate for gender equity, she added.

Dr Yasmeen congratulated CABI for celebrating IWD at its regional centre in Pakistan and stated that gender e quality starts at home. It is important that women should be equally involved in the decision making along with men to bring about positive changes in society, he said.

Climate change and role of women

Meanwhile, Dr Aslam took the opportunity to talk on the theme of climate change adaptation and Mitigation in making rural women and girls more resilient. He said that when it comes to climate change, Pakistan ranks as the second worst country affected but is lagging behind in climate change fight.

He said CABI programmes have reduced reliance on highly toxic pesticides – having raised awareness of pesticide risks and mitigation measures amongst many smallholder farmers, public and private advisory service providers and consumers.

He concluded by saying that a focus on specific crops affected by climate change could achieve greater and more measurable impact. He also stated that increased access to local and regional markets is vital as it greater involvement of women and youth in agri-business.

Samina Nazir said climate change and gender equality are interlinked incredibly. Girls and women are the first to face the adverse consequences of climate change and its mitigation, she said.

The first steps toward sustainably tackling the climate crisis are to ensure that girls and women are recognized for their progressive and forward-looking solutions for both people and the planet and have a seat at the decision-making table, she added.

Questions and answers

The event concluded with a ‘questions and answers’ session followed by a cake cutting ceremony where all the female panellists and CABI female staff members cut the cake together in remembrance of IWD.

The event featured presentations and panel discussions from experts in the field of agriculture and climate change. It also provided clarity on some of the fundamental issues faced by rural women farmers in the world of work.

It highlighted how, in partnership with organisations such as PARC, CABI is working through its projects to improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers – while increasing food security – being mindful of the important role women and youth play.

Additional information

Main image: CABI staff at its regional centre in Pakistan and guests celebrate International Women’s Day (Credit: CABI).


Mahwish Sarwar – Communications Officer


Sajila Sohail Khan – Gender Coordinator

1 Comment

  1. Zohaib Asad on 28th March 2023 at 5:02 am

    Great event; highlighted the role of women in a society

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