Bargad, a national level organization working on youth development, in collaboration with Oxfam Pakistan held a seminar at Kinnaird College on “Engaging Youth for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”.
300 students participated in this seminar including students from Government College University, Lahore. The seminar was organized to provide orientation and awareness to youth about the SDGs specifically in the context of Pakistan such as on climate change, gender equality, peace building, and institutional development with Pakistan’s Vision 2025. The seminar was a part of Bargad and Oxfam’s nationwide campaign on SDGs which involves a series of similar seminars and mainstream and social media campaign in 15 universities all across Pakistan. Kinnaird’s seminar marked the start of this campaign .
The panelists of the seminar included Ms Nasira Habib, Founder Director, Khoj-Society for People’s Education; Dr. Muhammad Arshad, a Water Scientist and UNICEF specialist for Water Sanitation and Hygiene; Amna Ali from Punjab Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW) and Zoya Ashraf, Kinnaird College were part of the panel discussion. Faculty member of Kinnaird College Ms Zubda Rashid moderated the seminar.
The panelists shed light on specific SDGs relevant to their work in context of Pakistan and made presentations, followed by discussion with the students.
Ms Nasir Habib said that Pakistan had adopted 16 targets and 41 indicators. Data available for 33 of these indicators reveal that Pakistan is on track to achieve the targets on 9 indicators, whereas its progress on 24 indicators is off track. Pakistan’s performance was ranked at 122 among the SDGs index in 2017. It is, however, a source of concern that the World Economic Forum placed Pakistan as the second worst country on gender equality in its Global Gender Gap index released in November 2017, she said.
It was briefed during the SDGs are a universal set of 17 goals with 169 targets which all UN member states, including Pakistan, are expected to use in framing their national development agendas. The federal ministry of planning, development and reform and the Planning and Development Department in Punjab have established special units to align national and provincial development processes with the SDGs supported by task forces formed by the members of National and provincial assemblies. The Punjab Commission on the Status of Women has also devised an elaborate plan to work on SDG 5 on gender equality in the province. There is a dire need that youth are involved in achieving SDGs’ goals and a sustainable future in Pakistan, it was added and further told that In 2017, only 43 countries voluntarily reported on progress against a small number of SDGs.
Amna Ali said that the Punjab Government through the PCSW is working on gender equality and women empowerment. It was imperative that men are also included in this work. She also informed about a helpline 1043 is available to women all over Punjab, who can have fee legal advice for their problems related to harassment, property dispute, domestic violence, etc. Zoya Ashraf spoke about the SDG 16 (Promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies) and the role of political leaders to bring about social justice in Pakistan.
Dr Muhammad Arshad while speaking about challenges to monitor and measure SDGs said that all countries including Pakistan would require annual reporting of high-quality data. A sample study showed that Rs 15,000 per capita expenditure was being spent out of the provincial annual development plan in a sample district. We have yet to explain the outcomes of these expenditures on health, education and other rankings related to the SDGs in Pakistan. An even greater challenge is how to create awareness and knowledge about how critical the SDG goals were to uplifting the lives of the people and how to make the process sustainable and inclusive, he added and also spoke about the SDG 6 (Ensure access to water and sanitation for all).
Ms. Sabiha Shaheen, Executive Director Bargad remarked that youth spaces are shrinking in Pakistan day by day and there is a dearth for appropriate platforms where youth can express themselves and realize their potential in economic, social and political and civic spheres. The framework of SDGs provides an avenue that can involve youth in development process. It calls for Pakistani youth to be an active part for achieving the SDGs, she added.
Mr. Muhammad Imran Anwar from Oxfam in Pakistan also attended the seminar and stressed upon the need for meaningful youth participation to achieve the SDGs by 2030.
The seminar came to a close with concluding remarks from the Principal of Kinnaird College, Dr. Rukhsana David. She appreciated that the youth and SDGs’ campaign has been launched from the prestigious institution of the Kinnaird College. She stressed that to fulfill SDGs and its targets in Pakistan; the engagement of youth was an imperative. She also committed to take this initiative further and ensured support on Kinnaird College’s behalf for the campaign to promote SDGs.