Professors work to empower women at Pakistani university

by Gabriella Morrone | Hatchet Reporter

Human and organizational learning professor Shahista Khilji and anthropology and international affairs professor Barbara Mille received a State Department grant to help a Pakistani university revamp its curriculum.
Media Credit: Cameron Lancaster | Contributing Photo Editor
Human and organizational learning professor Shahista Khilji and anthropology and international affairs professor Barbara Mille received a State Department grant to help a Pakistani university revamp its curriculum.

Correction appended

Two GW professors will try to help reverse a long history of gender inequality in Pakistan by working to revamp a women's college there over the next three years.

Anthropology and international affairs professor Barbara Miller and associate human and organizational learning professor Shahista Khilji earned a $1 million State Department grant last week that will fund a three-year partnership with Lahore College for Women University in Pakistan.

Miller said the grant will help strengthen the LCWU masters program for gender and development studies to emphasize women’s rights – in a country that ranked 120 out of 146 on the United Nations' Gender-Related Development Index. About 250 women enroll in the program annually.

“The global gender program at GW and the gender and development department at LCWU will work together to improve education and cultural awareness for students at both universities,” she said.

LCWU, located in the city of Lahore, Pakistan, enrolls about 10,000 students annually in nearly 40 different departments, ranging from zoology to Pakistan studies.

Nine other faculty members will also help develop leadership sessions. GW faculty will create webinars about gender and development which they will share with faculty in Pakistan.

“Women’s empowerment is a critical issue in human [and] international development,” Khilji said. “We are helping LCWU faculty and students identify needs of local women in Pakistan and develop/deliver training for them to empower them.”

LCWU faculty will come to GW next fall to lecture and develop ideas for joint research projects, which the $1 million grant will also fund. Miller said she hopes students from both universities will join the faculty in the research.

Pakistani students will also come to GW over the next three summers to take classes in Foggy Bottom. The University does not currently permit students to travel to Pakistan because of its political climate, something the professors hope changes in the coming years.

“Promoting cultural and social ties between people of Pakistan and United States is very important, and the possibility of really making a difference in the lives of many women and through entire communities is very motivating,” Khilji said.

This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that all nine professors will be traveling to Pakistan this spring. We regret this error.

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