University project provides boost for womens empowerment

A major international project investigating women academics’ careers in public universities in Pakistan has shattered preconceptions about women-only universities and identified them as progressive spaces that play a major role in developing women personally and professionally, and preparing them to participate in mainstream activities with confidence.

This British Academy funded project, led by Dr Saeeda Shah from our School of Education, Dr Maryam Rab co-applicant from Fatima Jinnah Women University Pakistan, working with UCL Institute of Education (IOE), has established strong and sustainable collaboration between two UK and four Pakistani HE institutions, opening opportunities for further collaborations.

The three-year project devised a research training programme for research capacity building, developing and mentoring 5/6 early career women researchers per each Pakistani institution to support continuation of training programmes after the life of the project.

Dr Shah said: “These researchers have done a great job not just in conducting the research to investigate women academics’ careers in Pakistani public universities, but also by building themselves as independent researchers and developing their potential for leading research in future.

“These early career researchers have since confidently presented their research at international conferences both in Pakistan and the UK.

“The dedication and commitment of these women academics who are working to change the society is the strength for women-only universities and for the society at large.”

The project aimed for sustainable collaborations, research capacity building, and to investigate women academics careers in women-only and co-educational public universities in Pakistan.

Dr Shah’s research focuses on gender and leadership which aligns with the institutional policy and aims. The University of Leicester is a champion of HeForShe -a global solidarity movement for gender equality, with the aim to promote female empowerment. The University of Leicester was invited by the United Nations to be one of just ten universities in the HeForShe ‘10x10x10 IMPACT Champions’ programme.

The project has given a new understanding of the role of women-only universities in Pakistan and enhanced cross-cultural understanding and expertise for all of us. Informed by this experience and expertise we are now working on developing further research partnerships with other countries as well.

  • The University of Leicester is leading the way in terms of gender equality as one of only 10 universities worldwide to be leading the UN’s HeForShe campaign. Leicester’s commitment to diversity, equalities and people who flourish cuts across the entire institution.