BOP, NBP win CSR for women development awards

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Islamabad, MAR 10 /DNA/ – Pakistan’s two prestigious financial institutions, Bank of Punjab and National Bank of Pakistan, were awarded “Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) for Women Development” awards here Saturday at a revered ceremony. The National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) won two awards for its large CSR portfolio of women’s education, and health and hygiene while the Bank of Bank (BOP) was conferred upon award for the comprehensive and inclusive women development, empowerment and engagement strategies and products.

The ‘CSR for Women Development Awards’ ceremony was a momentous part of the 10th edition of 3-day long ‘Aurat Hunar Mela’ (National Women-at-Work Festival) that kicked off on March 8 with a showcasing women’s work, products and services including an art exhibition “Herself” at the Lok Virsa, Shakarparian, Islamabad.  

The ‘Aurat Hunar Mela’ (National Women-at-Work Festival) is an annual flagship event of Devcom-Pakistan (Development Communications Network) to mark the UN’s International Women’s Day that falls on March 8. This year the 3-day event is being organized in collaboration with the National Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage (Lok Virsa), Federal Ministry of National Heritage and Culture.

Earlier, a conference on the ‘CSR for Women Development’ was also organized. The panelists included the Bank of Punjab Head of Customer Services Rai Usman Mujahid, entrepreneur and Islamabad Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IWCCI) Vice President Sadaf Asim Abbasi, entrepreneur and human resource management expert Tahira Haider, Lok Virsa Director Research and Publications Dr. Zobia Sultana and, art and design mentor and Devcom-Pakistan Creative Director Riffat Ara Baig. Devcom-Pakistan Executive Director Munir Ahmed conducted the panel discussion.

Rai Usman Mujahid said: The Bank of Punjab is a leading financial institution with 900 branches nationwide and is committed to creating a workplace that champions women empowerment and inclusivity. Our comprehensive initiative includes the implementation of women-friendly policies, such as flexible work arrangements to support work-life balance. Mentorship programs have been introduced to provide guidance and facilitate career advancement for female employees. Tailored leadership development opportunities aim to enhance the professional growth of women within the organization. Furthermore, we actively organize targeted networking events and forums to foster a supportive community. Our commitment to gender inclusivity extends to regular training programs on diversity and inclusion for all employees, ensuring a workplace that not only values but actively promotes equal opportunities for every individual to thrive.  

He said there are numerous CSR initiatives including The Citizens Foundation’s girls-education and the Indus Hospital, and financial inclusion of marginalized community women through interest-free loans. The bank, he said, is open to engage with different development and women organizations to create women-friendly workplaces and financially empowered women.

 Sadaf Asim Abbasi said: (CSR) plays a crucial role in the development and empowerment of women by promoting initiatives that address gender equality, access to education, economic opportunities, healthcare, and leadership development. The women’s chambers of commerce are struggling to create economic and financial opportunism for the women especially for the middle-class individuals.

Tahira Haider education and skill development is very crucial for the community women where the CSR programs may be aimed at increasing access to education and skill development opportunities for women and girls. This can include scholarships, vocational training programs, and workshops designed to enhance their employability and entrepreneurship skills.

Riffat Ara Baig said: The CSR shall also be focused on empowering the community women with the skills to redesign their products to meet the market needs. It will increase their share in the market. The product design and development matter a lot in the competitive market. They shall also be given exposure to the new markets.

Devcom-Pakistan Executive Director Munir Ahmed urged the corporates to include women’s leadership and decision-making roles within organizations and communities. This can involve mentorship programs, leadership training, and initiatives to break down barriers to women’s participation in leadership positions. The CSR initiatives shall also include advocacy and awareness raising about gender inequality and advocating for policies and practices that promote women’s rights and empowerment. This can involve partnering with advocacy organizations, supporting campaigns, and engaging stakeholders to drive positive change.

In a separate ceremony on Sunday, the management volunteers from the Institute of Tourism and Hospitality Management (ITHM) were also awarded certificates. The women artists who put their artworks on display were awarded with the festival mementos and certificates. They included Nigar Nazar, New York-based Nayyer Iqbal, Shahnaz Akram, Riffat Ara Baig, Saima Tahir, Saima Amir, Hatice Omar, Ambreen Anjum, Salvat Hijazi, Sabahat Amir, Beenish Azam, Shehla Moazzam, and Ambreen Bilal.