“The world is going to be in a different position in the next fifty years, especially in developing countries,” observes Dr. Bakhshal Lashari, director of the U.S.-Pakistan Centers for Advanced Studies in Water at Mehran University of Engineering and Technology in Jamshoro, Pakistan.
For the last two years the USPCASW program at MUET, in partnership with the University of Utah and funded through a grant from USAID, has been ramping up efforts to train and educate the next generation of engineers to confront a mounting water crisis facing Pakistan. Central to this mission is a goal of educating and empowering women to become leaders in helping craft a solution.
“Women should have a major role in determining how water is managed,” according to Dr. Lashari. He sites the central role women play in managing the domestic use of water in the country, and how integral women are in much of the agricultural sector, which accounts for 85% of the country’s water consumption.
The USPCASW program at MUET has put in place a Gender Equity Plan, with the aim of recruiting women faculty and students into the engineering program. The campus has also opened a Women’s Resource Center to offer career counseling and is involved in recruitment and empowerment initiatives.
“Pakistan is facing serious issues in the water sector,” Dr. Lashari observes. “But there is also a lot of potential.” A big part of that potential will no doubt come through a conscious effort to educate and empower a whole new generation of women to help shape solutions to the country’s challenges in the water sector and beyond.