Women are playing a significant role in the development of Pakistan, as a large number of women are rendering services in their respective capacities in different important institutions and sectors. Federal Minister for Education and Professional Training Shafqat Mahmood made these remarks at the launch ceremony of a six-day five-module training under the Women Leadership Programme 2021 being organised by National Academy of Higher Education (NAHE) in collaboration with the British Council Pakistan. The ceremony also marked the inauguration of the All Pakistan Women Universities Consortium (APWUC). In his remarks, Shafqat Mahmood highlighted the importance of NAHE efforts for developing and training the future academic leadership in the country. He noted that developing administrative skills in the academic leadership is very crucial as academic excellence does not necessarily mean adeptness in administration and management. He stressed the need for identifying academic administrative talent at an early age so as that this talent could be horned through training and exposure. Amid the financial hardships facing the universities, the university heads need to know how to handle finances, he stated while emphasizing on the role of university leadership. He emphasized that the government does not believe in gender discrimination in making appointments and selections. The minister advised the universities to promote skill-based education, as the future belongs to those who have skills. He emphasized that the universities need to ensure quality and relevance of education. “It is important to have a huge number of universities in the country, however, this should not be at the cost of quality.” In her welcome address, Executive Director Higher Education Commission (HEC) Dr. Shaista Sohail underscored that women have a great role in the national uplift. “We need to utilize their talent and acknowledge their stake in the country’s progress,” she stated. She noted that leaders are not born, but a person can become a leader through struggle, determination, will-power and vision. Shedding light on the Women Leadership Programme, the Executive Director said that capacity building of women in leadership roles is one of the ways to give equal opportunities to women. She remarked that equity, diversity and inclusivity in any sector play a central role in its progress. On this occasion, Vice Chancellor Fatima Jinnah Women University Dr. Saima Hamid shared the objectives of APWUC in terms of increasing the role of Pakistani women in the socio-economic development of Pakistan in line with the global priorities. She regretted that Pakistan lags far behind other nations in the Global Gender Gap Index. The APWUC, she said, will provide the women playing a leadership role in academia to come together to overcome the challenges in the way of women empowerment. Country Director British Council Pakistan Mr. Amir Ramzan highlighted that there are a number of factors which have kept the women across South Asia away from leadership roles. He held out assurance that the British Council will stand by NAHE and APWUC in their efforts to equip and empower women. The first day of the training under the Women Leadership Programme 2021 covered two sessions — ‘Storying Ourselves: Case Studies of Women Leadership” and Social Influencers and Woman’s Identity” by Dr. Fauzia Shamim and Dr. Fatima Dar – under Module 1. The rest of five days of the programme will cover topics, including: “People Management Skills”, “Time Management”, “Governance in Higher Education Introduction to laws policies and procedures in Higher Education”, “Recruitment and Promotion Policies: Gender inclusion & equity”, “Addressing vulnerabilities in Higher Education”, “Leadership”, “Workplace Communication”, “Strategy”, “Course Assessment”, “Budget, Auditing”, “Pension Rules/ Benefits on Retirements. Rules Regulations Applicable to Federal Government Employees”, “Fund Rules, Benevolent Fund and Group Insurance Rules”, “General Financial Rules of the Federal and Provincial Governments”, “Fundamental Rules & Supplementary Rules”, “Orientation to Taxation Federal Government”, “Key Performance Indicators and Targets”, “Foreign exchange payment procedure”, “Assan Assignment Account Procedure”, “Public Procurement Regime in Pakistan: Integrity Risks, Issues and Challenges”, “Introduction to Public Procurement Rules, 2004 (Amendments 2020 & 2021) and Application of Rules”, “Consultancy Service Regulations, 2010”, “Brief Comparison of Federal and Punjab Public Procurement Rules”, and “A Way Forward to Public Procurement Reforms: E-Procurement”.