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Gender expert from GB finalist for British Council award

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High Asia Herald Report


An educator from Gilgit-Baltistan has been shortlisted for a prestigious British Council Alumni Award in Pakistan’s Social Impact category, says a report published on the website of the United Kingdom’s Institute of Development Studies (IDS).

Sosan Aziz, an alumna of the IDS and the Sussex University, has been shortlisted for the award which “recognises the outstanding achievements of alumni with a UK higher education whose work has positively changed their society or community,” the report stated.

This year, more than 1,200 applications were received from alumni in more than 140 countries. The winners will be announced at the Awards Ceremony in Lahore, Pakistan on 29 February 2020.

Hailing from Gojal Subdivision of the Hunza District, Ms Sosan completed a master’s degree in gender and development, jointly taught by IDS and the Sussex in 2008. On her return to Pakistan, Ms Sosan joined the Aga Khan Foundation’s (AKF) education project where her work focused on involving women in School Management Committees and Mother Support Groups to help motivate communities to improve the education of their children.

She made a substantial contribution to improving girls’ access to education. Ms Sosan’s work with local community to increase girls’ enrolment in education in Gilgit-Baltistan led to the establishment of many new local-level education institutions and benefitted girls in over 100 schools in the region.

Two years later, she joined the AKF’s health project where she led the gender section and a major capacity building initiative – involving over 1,200 community midwives, female health workers, female health visitors – that has contributed to improved maternal and child health outcomes in Gilgit-Baltistan’s five districts. During that time, Ms Sosan also worked as a gender and social development specialist in the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme’s Gems and Jewellery Development Project. There she raised awareness of women’s participation and worked to eliminate discrimination against women and other vulnerable groups working in the gems and jewellery sector. As a result of her awareness-raising and capacity building activities, a large number of women and girls from Gilgit-Baltistan became involved in the sector at cottage-industry or small-businesses level.

Ms Sosan is currently employed at the Economic Transformation Initiative in Gilgit-Baltistan which is funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the Government of Pakistan. She leads their work on gender, poverty, nutrition, youth’s involvement in infrastructure development and agriculture value chains. She has also represented women of Gilgit- Baltistan at regional, national and international levels in the women of the world festivals organised by the British Council Pakistan.

Alongside her formal employment Ms Sosan is active in several community-based organizations in a volunteer capacity, including, the National Commission on the Status of Women, Gilgit-Baltistan, the National Standing Committee of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation Project from Gilgit-Baltistan, the Himalayan Grassroots Women’s Natural Resource Management Association.

Ms Sosan believes that studying in the UK has given her a major advantage professionally, and encourages other young people, especially women, to pursue higher education as a means to achieve economic empowerment and social change.

She said: Studying at IDS and Sussex exposed me to a unique diversity of perspectives on development from across the globe. I gained knowledge and practical skills that enabled me to become both analytical and visionary in designing and implementing development initiatives for lasting change in my home country.”

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