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NEW YORK: Minister of State for Information Technology Anusha Rahman has been awarded the 'GEM-TECH Global Achievers 2015' award by the ITU and UN Women for initiating "a number of projects and programmes that have had a profound impact on the ICT sector in Pakistan."

Receiving her award at an impressive ceremony at New York's Civic Centre, Anusha pledged to continue her work for the cause of women empowerment through technology.

“I dedicate this award to the people of Pakistan, specially the young girls and women of my country,” she said.

The event was held jointly by two United Nations bodies — UN Women and International Telecommunications Union (ITU) — on the sidelines of a high-level session of the UN General Assembly aimed at narrowing the digital divide and harnessing the power of information technology.

The award was conferred on Rahman in recognition of her work on the development of the ICTs and, especially the practical initiatives for the cause of women and girls.

Take a look: Anusha Rahman: ‘IT girl’ in a boy’s world

Handing over the awards were Malcolm Johnson, Director of ITU's Telecommunication Standardisation Bureau and Lakshmi Puri, Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations and Deputy Executive Director of UN Women, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women.

Organisers said 150 individuals and organisations from 55 countries were nominated for the award. The selection process was difficult, but finally Anusha Rahman was among the three winners, they said. The two others were: US Ambassador to the United Nations Mission in Geneva Ambassador Pamela Hamamoto and Nancy Hafkin of the United States, a champion of gender equality.

Three organisations dedicated to women's empowerment, one a global body and two others from Thailand and Senegal also won awards.

“Today I stand here as one of the millions of emancipated women of Pakistan who undoubtedly if provided the right opportunities are capable of rising to any level of success,” the minister told the large and distinguished audience.

“I would not have been here if it were not for the confidence and opportunity provided by my political leadership. Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and Finance Minister Muhammad Ishaq Dar provided me a platform to deliver on our collective dreams for the people of Pakistan,” she said.

“There are billions of women who, if provided the right opportunities, have the potential to contribute to the achievement of the ambitious global development agenda that the nations have collectively set for themselves.”

The minister's initiatives of direct significance include technical ICT skill development and capacity building program particularly for disadvantaged women from the lowest strata of the society to enable self-employment opportunities for them.

They include a special program for disadvantaged girls, which gives girls access to learning computer science and economic opportunities, and a startup incubator program, which offers mentorship, commercial, legal and financial help for young people and young women in particular. She also undertaken several other policy and legislative initiatives with direct relevance to furthering women's empowerment.

In her special initiative for girls, Rahman said the Ministry of Information Technology (MoIT) has partnered with Microsoft Corporation to increase access for all girls particularly those extremely disadvantaged, to learn computer and communication skills.

Besides, the bedrock component for improving digital literacy of young girls particularly focused training will be delivered to these girls, at purpose specific facilities and infrastructure being funded by the Universal Services Fund (USF), for commercially relevant certification in software coding and simple application development through intuitive and simple and non-complex interface.

This programme, which in its inaugural year 2016 will enable economic opportunity for thousands of girls every year, and will be replicated for hundreds and thousands of youth and women through institutionalisation in more 500 purpose built Telecenters also being launched by the USF program in the next two years through Public Private Partnership with the industry through a subsidy funding, the minister said.