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APF intern sets sights on empowering women

Graphic: Saman Mushtaq

Saman Mushtaq, from Peshawar in Pakistan, is currently in Australia on a scholarship studying a one-year Masters in Public Administration.

What needs to change so that women can grow and succeed in the workplace?

This is the question that Saman Mushtaq – from Peshawar in Pakistan and currently in Australia on a scholarship studying a one-year Masters in Public Administration – ponders on a regular basis.

I think it’s very difficult for women to succeed in all countries across the world, including Pakistan. There are always glass ceilings everywhere.

"A former manager told me that, in order to survive in a patriarchal society or organisation, women generally have to work two or three times as hard as men," Ms Mushtaq said. "That should not still be the case these days."

Ms Mushtaq has just completed a four week internship with the APF secretariat as part of her studies. During this time, she also spent time with senior managers and staff of the Australian Human Rights Commission.

One of the very valuable conversations, she said, centred on the Commission's work to address sexual harassment in the workplace.

"This is a common concern for too many women in Pakistan as well," Ms Mushtaq said.

"There are so many important lessons the Commission shared with me that I would like to take back and implement in Pakistan."

As part of her internship, Ms Mushtaq assisted the APF secretariat to review certain critical aspects of national human rights institution legislation that promote independence of operation, in order to assess their compliance with international standards.

"Identifying the strengths of legislation, along with the challenges of implementation, is of great interest to me from the perspective of public administration," Ms Mushtaq said.

Kieren Fitzpatrick, APF secretariat Director, said Ms Mushtaq brought great enthusiasm and dedication to her work with the APF.

"We also appreciated the opportunity to hear from her about life in Pakistan and the experiences of women," he said.

Ms Mushtaq will return to Islamabad in January 2016 to resume her position with the Competition Commission of Pakistan.

She said her time in Australia, especially her post-graduate studies at the University of Sydney, has been of great benefit to her personally and professionally.

"I had no idea what Australia would be like but I was sure it would be an exciting adventure. I can honestly say that it has been more than I expected."

Date: 6 November 2015

Image credits

  1. Saman Mushtaq - APF/James Iliffe