[Islamabad, 8th March 2023] The National Incubation Center and Coca‑Cola celebrated International Women's Day 2023 with an event focused on the day’s global theme: Embracing Equity.
The event focused on the issue of water equity with a specific emphasis on how it disproportionately affects women and children in Pakistan. It was noted that around 40% of Pakistan's population lacks access to clean drinking water. The previous year's floods worsened the situation, contaminating and making safe drinking water scarce. Rural women were particularly affected, having to travel long distances to collect water for their families. To address this issue, Coca‑Cola partnered with Indus Earth Trust and Bondh E Shams to install a solar-powered water filtration system in Ali Muhammad Jokhio village, Thatta, which produces 10,000 liters of clean water every day. Additionally, innovative water wheels were provided to women to help ease the burden of carrying water. Safia and Asia, women of the Ali Muhammad Jhokio village were in attendance at the event and interacted with the audience sharing their perspectives and first-hand experience of the critical connection between women and access to safe drinking water.
The event featured a relevant and timely keynote by Senator and Minister of State for Petroleum Dr. Musadik Malik, serving as a critical bridge in the relationship between women, water, power and development.
In line with Coca‑Cola's global sustainability priorities, Aisha Sarwari, Director of Public Affairs, Communication, and Sustainability at The Coca‑Cola Company, led a panel discussion on gender and climate action. The panel featured the perspectives of journalist Munizae Jahangir, Dr. Imran Khalid, Director of Policy and Governance at the WWF-Pakistan, and Rajaa Bokhari, Program Manager of Pakistan Business Council. The discussion highlighted the importance of gender equity and clean water and sanitation in achieving sustainable development goals of which gender equality (SDG 5) and clean water and sanitation (SDG 6) are among key priorities for Coca‑Cola.
“Women in Pakistan have faced systemic disadvantages and we believe in fixing the fundamentals first. Access to clean drinking water is a game changer, especially in times of natural disasters and climate change catastrophes.” said Aisha Sarwari, Director of Public Relations, Communications, and Sustainability.
Coca‑Cola is committed to creating equal opportunities for women in our business and the communities they serve. Women bear a disproportionate impact of climate change, as evident from the floods in Pakistan, and they responded to International Finance Corporation (IFC), and Pakistan Business Council’s (PBC) Climate2Equal Call to Action, pledging to increase women's involvement in consultations on water conservation and make them the main stakeholders in climate-focused interventions.
At the event, the National Incubation Center and Coca‑Cola were also joined by startup WeCamp, a platform dedicated to supporting, and celebrating home-based female entrepreneurs. WeCamp held a panel discussion on "Female Inclusion in the Workforce". The discussion, moderated by WeCamp's CEO, Laiba Iqbal, featured journalist and founder of The MM Edit, Maria Memon, Aqsa Khan, CEO of Milma Trips, and Fozia Asim, home-based entrepreneur behind Saqafat. The panelists shared their experiences and discussed the challenges faced by women in the workplace, as well as best practices for promoting gender equality in the workforce.
Parvez Abbasi, Project Director, NIC Pakistan said; “On this Women's Day, we applaud the courage and determination of women around the world, as they continue to overcome varied challenges. At the NIC we are immensely proud that 24% of our female founders are female. That's compared to Silicon Valley where it's a lot less. Still a long way to go!”