On 8 March, the International Catholic Migration Commission team in Pakistan hosted an International Women’s Day celebration at a recently inaugurated Urban Cohesion Hub. The event aimed to challenge gender-based biases and assumptions and celebrate women’s achievements.
#ChooseToChallenge, the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day, is a global call for individuals and societies around the world to drive change by choosing to call out gender bias and challenge inequality. “A challenged world is an alert world,” the Women’s Day website explains. “We can all choose to challenge, and to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world.”
At the ICMC 8 March celebration in Pakistan, local communities and stakeholders came together to participate in discussions and presentations on recognizing and fighting gender inequality. Topics for discussion included gender-based assumptions, unconscious bias and gender stereotypes, alongside celebrations of the achievements and contributions of women around the world.
To highlight the important role that individual community members play in building social cohesion, men and women who have made important contributions to the local community were celebrated as “Change Makers”. They included community outreach volunteers, teachers, health workers and students, each of whom received a “Change Maker” gift in recognition of the positive impact of their work for the wider community.
“My parents gave me the confidence that as a woman, I can change my reality by believing in myself; believing I am equal and have the right to equal opportunities,” said Dr. Kiran Noreen, a physician at the Urban Cohesion Hub.
The Urban Cohesion Hub is a new community center in Rawalpindi, a large city adjacent to the country’s capital Islamabad. The center was inaugurated on 15 February 2021 and aims to:
- Provide services and opportunities for social interaction between Afghan refugees and host communities;
- Harmonize services with existing government standards and mandated public institutions;
- Develop capacities and enhance skills of individual beneficiaries and communities.
The Hub provides integrated services for refugees and host community members in areas such as health, education, skills training and legal support, as well as a program of recreational activities. The center’s services and activities were developed using a participatory approach, in which stakeholders including local communities, national authorities and the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, contributed their expertise to the Hub’s development.
Some 30,000 individuals from refugee and local host communities will be assisted by the Hub, with a particular emphasis on reaching vulnerable groups such as people with disabilities, young people, working children, the elderly and women. “The services that will be provided through this Hub will promote peaceful coexistence, in what is an important urban refugee affected and hosting area of Pakistan,” said German Ambassador Bernhard Schlagheck at the inauguration.
The Urban Cohesion Hub is funded by the German Federal Foreign Office and implemented by ICMC in the framework of the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) Refugee Management Support Program.