Fulfilling a deferred dream

10 Jan 2022

WoGIT testimonial 3

This piece is part of a series of reflective blogs written by women from Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, and Pakistan who attended SERVIR-HKH’s trainings on GIT specifically for women. A larger piece on the trainings can be found here.

Geographic information systems (GIS) have always fascinated me from my days as a young environmental sciences student. For one reason or another, I missed out on multiple opportunities to pursue training on the subject. So, when I learned about an ICIMOD training on GIT for Pakistani women, I applied immediately.

The four-day virtual training served as a veritable resource bank in the form of theoretical lectures, hands-on training, and self-paced practice sessions. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, I joined the training online along with 44 other women from across Pakistan; the only hindrance we faced were breakages due to power and internet outages. However, the trainers expertly tackled such unavoidable issues by supplying the training resources ahead of the sessions. I still remember our mentors willingly repeating some of the hands-on exercises for participants who were lagging behind.

Besides providing technical knowledge on Earth observation and geospatial information technology (GIT), this training also united women researchers from different academic backgrounds with a passion for GIT. Some of us are still in touch, helping each other with technical aspects. We discuss how we have been integrating our learning into our work, and our discussions have inspired us with so many ideas to work on.

Climate change is a horrendous reality, and Pakistan is very vulnerable to its adverse impacts. I have observed firsthand that women are more vulnerable to climate-induced calamities and their indirect impacts.

This training is opening doors for women to hone their knowledge and skills, and pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). I believe that this training has revitalized my dream to realize my full potential as a gender and climate change researcher. I want to fill the data gaps on pertinent ecological imbalances like urban sprawl and land degradation, and map gendered vulnerabilities.

I see the added value of empowering women in this domain – I feel that in our context, if you educate a man, you educate an individual. But if you educate a woman, you educate a generation. Such trainings are vital in Pakistan because such knowledge can percolate across all strata of society – including financially or ecologically vulnerable communities − to tackle what is approaching in the form of climate change impacts. Pakistani women have immense knowledge and potential but often find themselves confined by poor exposure and socio-cultural barriers. COVID-19-led restrictions have opened up new opportunities to engage in new learning opportunities using the virtual medium.

With the help of this ICIMOD platform and being a part of this technical training, I want to say: Let’s encourage our women to participate in STEM. Let’s ignite the spark within them.


Kainat Javed

Kainat Javed

Research Assistant, Global Change Impact Study Center, Pakistan