Canada, EU, Germany, Austria, Bulgaria and UK host ambassador for a day

Islamabad: To celebrate International Women’s Day 2024, the High Commission of Canada this week hosted its second annual Ambassador for the Day.

This year, the initiative gained widespread support from the diplomatic community in Pakistan, including the Delegation of the European Union to Pakistan, the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, the Embassy of Austria, the Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria, and the British High Commission Islamabad, as well as the Government of Pakistan including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the National Heritage and Culture Division, and the Pakistan National Council of the Arts. The initiative aimed to provide the opportunity for six Pakistani young women to step into the shoes of the Head of Mission for Canada, the EU, the UK, Germany, Austria, and Bulgaria to experience the day-to-day responsibilities of this important role.

Aligned with this year’s theme for International Women’s Day 2024, “Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress,” the program offered the “Ambassadors for the Day” a unique opportunity to interact with diplomats, engage with representatives of the Government of Pakistan, civil society, and the media, as well as take part in various cultural diplomacy activities that offered insights into the workings of a diplomatic mission and the world of diplomacy in Pakistan.

The participants commenced the day by meeting with their respective Heads of Mission and their internal teams of diplomats while assuming the role of Head of Mission and taking control of official social media accounts. They then attended an official lunch engagement with Senator Sherry Rehman hosted by H.E., Dr. Riina Kionka, Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Pakistan and H.E. Alfred Grannas, Ambassador Federal Republic of Germany to discuss the how the international community must continue to engage on combatting climate change and its devastating impacts, as well as advancing progress of women’s participation in politics.

Continuing their journey as diplomats, the six “Ambassadors for the Day” attended a briefing by the Spokesperson at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Pakistan, and later participated in a “Women in I.T. reception and panel discussion” hosted by the British High Commission. The day culminated with a collaborative cultural diplomacy event at the Pakistan National Council of the Arts where the participants greeted guests and toured them around the various art exhibits and attractions including:
Canada’s “Drawing into Threads: Embroidery as Encounter,” an interactive textile arts collaboration between Canadian and Pakistani artists showcasing the multi-sensorial richness of embroideries that reflect the fusion of Canadian & Pakistani heritage and the rich people-to-people connections that tie the two nations.

The Austrian Calliope exhibition honored remarkable women from Austria who have shaped and continue to shape the world. It features luminaries from various fields, including society, culture, science, and politics, spanning from the early 19th century to the present, aiming to provide a deeper understanding of these women’s contributions, showcasing their work, activism, creativity, and intelligence. European creativity was showcased via Digital Art curated by the European Union Delegation to Pakistan, showcasing diverse art pieces from EU member states. The exhibition features multiple digital screens, cut-outs, a VR display, & photo exhibition by Bulgaria featuring UNESCO sites.

The event also featured a “Climate Theater” by Accountability Lab, in partnership with the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives to bring to life the experiences of climate change in Pakistan.

The event concluded with a screening of Canada’s beloved Banff Centre Mountain Film Festival World Tour. The festival, hosted for the third time in Pakistan by the High Commission of Canada, featured short films and documentaries showcasing mountain culture, sports, environmental conservation, adventure, and exploration. The films aimed to highlight the impact of climate change on global biodiversity, the significance of environmental conservation, the thrill of outdoor adventure, and the capability of female athletes.

The Ambassador for a Day initiative is a part of the ongoing efforts by Canada, the UK, the EU, Germany, Austria, and Bulgaria in Pakistan to engage with local partners and communities to achieve the overarching goals of the promotion and protection of human rights, as well as support inclusion, equitable access, and equal opportunities, as well as join efforts in combatting the global climate crisis.

Congratulating the young women, High Commissioner of Canada to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Her Excellency Leslie Scanlon, shared that: “I am thrilled that we were able to organize this meaningful initiative for a second year and to garner the support of the Government of Pakistan and our colleagues from so many diplomatic missions dedicated to the same goal of supporting the empowerment of girls globally. This year’s Ambassador for a Day for Canada is Eman, a young and ambitious student from Karachi who has been a strong advocate for tackling climate change in Sindh Province. Canada is a leader and champion for gender equality, human rights, and the empowerment of women and girls at home and abroad. Supporting and empowering women and girls will continue to be at the heart of our international development efforts. This year’s theme “Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress”, is a reflective of Canada’s long and proud tradition of fostering a supportive, nurturing environment for women and girls. In Pakistan, guided by Canadian values, we are advancing and investing in a suite of feminist policies, programs, and initiatives that promote women’s socio-economic empowerment, encourage gender equity, and empower communities to address gender norms. Through “Ambassador for the Day”, we hope to encourage and inspire young girls and women in Pakistan to pursue their dreams and show them that they have the power to inspire and change the world.”
British High Commissioner, H.E. Jane Marriott said: “I have been in awe at Umama’s drive and passion to make Pakistan a more inclusive country. Seeing her in action today, I’ve no doubt if she wanted to she’d make a formidable Ambassador. I’m also grateful to her for sharing her thoughtful insights on how young adults can drive gender equality”.

EU head of delegation, Dr. Riina Kionka said: “This initiative is all about inclusivity and inspiring girls to be future leaders. We are excited that Seher Raza has stepped into the role of EU Ambassador for a day. She is from Dera Ismail Khan and aspires to join the foreign service of Pakistan. We need more women in diplomacy.”
German Ambassador, H.E. Alfred Grannas said: “Empowering women means embracing diversity, fostering inclusion, and unlocking humanity’s full potential. With this in mind, I am honoured to give center stage to Fatima today, so she can be a voice for the women of her generation.”
European Union Ambassador, H.E., Dr Riina Kionka said: “This initiative is all about inclusivity and inspiring girls to be future leaders. We are excited that Seher Raza has stepped into the role of EU Ambassador for a day. She is from Dera Ismail Khan and aspires to join the foreign service of Pakistan. We need more women in diplomacy.”