Enabling Women Re-entering the Workforce

Ananke and PWiC organize an engaging Back to Work event for women in Dubai, (UAE).
Enabling Women Re-entering the Workforce
Executive Editor, Sabin Muzaffar, conducting Google's #IamRemarkable workshop.

Enabling successful returnships for women who had gone on a hiatus due to different personal reasons was the premise of the event “Back to Work” co-organized by Ananke and Pakistan Women in Computing (PWiC) – Dubai Chapter on February 1st, 2020 at the Careem headquarters in the UAE.

The event was in recognition of women aspiring to come back to work. It included a session on tips and techniques ensuring successful return to work as well as an engaging workshop #IamRemarkable. Conducted by Ananke’s Founder and Executive Editor, Sabin Muzaffar, the workshop, #IamRemarkable is a Google initiative that empowers women and underrepresented groups to celebrate their achievements in the workplace and beyond.

The workshop aims to improve the self promotion motivation and skills of women and underrepresented groups, in addition to challenging the social perception around self promotion.

Talking about the event, Sabin said: “When we (both Ananke and PWiC ) decided to organize the event, our vision was to invite not just women in tech, but the entire professional female community, to talk about issues preventing them from successfully going back to work. We wanted a dialogue that was inclusive and diverse.”

Zobia Badar ul Huda, PWiC Dubai Chapter Lead, spoke about Pakistani Women in Computing particularly the Dubai chapter, revealing: “PWiC Dubai is a newly initiated chapter of the Pakistani Women in Computing (PWiC) global community. PWiC aims at providing a platform for pakistani women to connect, learn and grow together. Its programs include social networking events, technical and personal developmental workshops, scholarship and job opportunities, mentorship programs etc. Although the main focus of these programs are pakistani women, they are inclusive of all nationalities and gender.”

Facilitating the Google initiative #IamRemarkable, Sabin commented: “I had previously attended two #IamRemarkable workshops in Dubai (UAE). Not only did I experience a wonderful feeling of empathy and sisterhood during those sessions, I could see how the upbeat workshop uplifts and celebrates all participants. That is why I decided to get trained and become a facilitator myself. It was such a privilege conducting the workshop as I could see such immense impact in real time.”

Enabling Women Re-entering the Workforce

A casual picture of co-organizers, members of PWiC and Ananke.

The Google initiative highlights research revealing that one of the major obstacles women face as far as personal and professional growth is concerned is vocally expressing their achievements or even remotely practicing self promotion at the workplace. These obstacles may emerge from personal inhibitions or feelings of imposterisms as well as cultural and modesty norms, stereotypes etc. On the flipside, the session also showcased how many can reap benefits of self-promotion as it plays a pivotal role in professional success.

The second session ‘Roadmap To Expert Return to Work’ was conducted by Wajeeha Javed, AI Senior Design Engineer at Afinity who spoke about her own personal experiences in terms of taking a career break and focusing on care work. She also spoke about professional challenges women encounter during the course of their return and how to overcome them.

Statistics show care-work and family are primary factors that see many women disappear before reaching C-suite positions in organizations. Inequality at home and disproportionately shouldering care work burden impacts women’s abilities to be economically and professionally emancipated. It can further impede as well as stunt career growth as many decide and/or are coerced to take a break to focus more on family.

According to Forbes: “Only a quarter of S&P 500 CEOs are women, and women make up only 20% of the board members of those same companies… Women leave their positions at a far higher rate than men, and more often than not, are then replaced… by men. On average, we’re looking at attrition rates of 31% vs 24%, and it only goes higher as you move up the corporate ladder. By the time you actually reach the C-suite, women leave their jobs at over three times the rate of their male colleagues: 24% vs 7%, according to the Network for Executive Women.”]

PWiC is a global community of women in technology fields from Pakistan and their global allies. With an aim to collaborate, grow, inspire and draw attention to inclusion, the organization celebrates mentorships by creating opportunities for community members and beyond. PWiC’s vision is to find ways to enable ‘our community to connect, learn and grown together.’

Ananke is a digital platform empowering women through awareness, advocacy and education. The celebrated organization has been nominated two times in a row (2019 and 2020) for the World Summit on Information Society Prizes (WSIS) for its outstanding work for digital awareness, media and communication under a gender lens. Ananke continues to uplift women and girls through a wide array of programs and products including digital internship program and the newly launched smart dashboards on gender titled Data Boards.



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