It has been a busy few weeks at the polly HQ and as a result, we've been very quiet on the blog front (does it count that we have several well-written ones in our head? No? Ok. Just checking!).
There have been very tight deadlines to meet, amazing new partners to bring on board, exciting mini-projects to advance and the usual, limited 24/7 to get it all done in. But when I got an invite on a balmy Karachi afternoon asking me to attend a women's networking meeting on a Friday night, I knew I had to be there! Touted as “an evening of fun, inspiring talks and great networking”, the event organised by the British Council, Manchester Digital Laboratory (MadLab) and T2F definitely delivered.
The Girl Geek Dinner is a get-together for women with a like-minded interest in science, technology, engineering, arts or math. Being a super-relaxed event, it allows attendees the chance to connect with each other and meet new faces over a spot of dinner. Men were also welcome, provided they were invited by, and accompanied by, a girl geek. The Girl Geeks Dinners movement was founded as a single group in London in 2005, and has expanded to 60 groups in over 20 countries since, providing a great opportunity for women working in STEAM to get together. The event in Karachi was hosted by the lovely Gemma Cameron from MadLab and was its pilot in the country.
Anyone who knows me will tell you that I love the support, energy and enthusiasm that comes of women sharing their lives and cheering on one another. Put 50 creative, talented and very accomplished women (and some great men!) in a room - and you have a community that creates, inspires and leads AND challenges what it means to be a geek! It was amazing to hear women speak of their passions - whether it was tech, banking, litigation or math! Many of them work against some very compelling odds and in fields which women are traditionally expected to shy away from. And if this doesn't get you excited enough, then throw in some great food, fun conversation and amazing, warm hosts and you can't help but leave awed and invigorated.
The timing of the event, with International Women's Day and its theme to Pledge for Parity for all women, just around the corner was a very happy fortuity. Looking around at the trials and challenges that our world faces today (extreme poverty, economic parity, climate change, war and other crises), it couldn't be more obvious that everyone needs to be a part of a desperately needed change. We can no longer afford to leave groups of people behind - and women's influence will be a key part of a formula that helps in driving this change.
Acknowledging that women need support and need to work together is important. Acknowledging that achieving what we want can seem like an almost impossible task especially when we venture into non-traditional careers or 'men-only' fields is equally important. Often women's ideas seem so ludicrous and dreams so far-fetched that they don't even seem worth pursuing. Women can get into the habit of believing that if they don’t have all the capital they need and the perfect environment, the perfect timing, the perfect team, it’s not even worth trying. But by moving forward, with whatever you do have, women can achieve what they want, no matter how appallingly deficient the inception was. This was so beautifully illustrated in the personal stories women generously shared at the dinner that night. Stories of stepping outside their comfort zone, stories of pain and hardship but also stories of achievement, of miraculous accomplishment, of strength and power. We should dare to dream big but more importantly, we need to start our journey and put plans into actions, no matter what! Now is the time and there hasn't ever been one better! So let's #makeithappen!
So excited to have been part of this attitude-free, newbie-safe and inclusive woman-based community event. Here's to hoping its becomes a regular feature of Karachi's diverse social and professional programming!