Osmia, a Computer Science graduate from Malakand University was in Peshawar to deliver her baby when she came across a social media post that changed her life. Code for Pakistan, in partnership with the KP IT Board and the World Bank, was inviting women from the region to apply for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Women's Civic Digital Internship Program 2023.

Osmia, a resident of Timergara, a beautiful town located on the footsteps of snow-capped mountains in Lower Dir, was confronted with cultural and geographical barriers that often dissuade women in her village from seeking employment outside their homes. She recalls, "I didn't even know where to start."

The Leap of Faith as a New Mother

Balancing her new role as a mother, Osmia applied for the program, a competitive process with over 450 applicants. She successfully navigated a rigorous three-step selection process, including phone and online interviews. Her dedication and skills shone through, earning her a place among the 50 selected interns. The program is designed to enable women from remote areas to work from home and find better opportunities in the workplace.

The Journey Begins

Osmia's commitment was tested early on when she, along with her supportive husband and two-month-old baby Azlaan, undertook an eight-hour journey to Peshawar for the program's inaugural event. A wifi device, donated by Zong proved to be a game changer for Osmia, eliminating her internet accessibility issues.

The KP Women Civic Internship Program is a 6-month internship program designed to up-skill fresh graduates with technology skills, provide practical hands-on work experience and prepare them for exploring a career in Engineering, IT and Software Development.

The program offers women a unique opportunity to work on citizen-facing digital services to improve engagement, automate government processes, and create innovation in public service delivery. These digital services help solve problems in various public domains, such as economic development, healthcare, open data, citizen engagement, transportation, education, etc.

The internship program also offers blended learning, tailored mentorship and career counselling from top industry professionals. All 50 interns had an opportunity to improve their technical and leadership skills within the six month internship program.

Inside the KP Women's Civic Digital Internship Program

Osmia spent a large portion of her time mastering Graphic Design and UI/UX Development, often working late into the night while caring for Azlaan. Guided by mentors Bilal Wahab and the Code for Pakistan team, she found the six months both challenging and immensely rewarding.

I learnt more in six months than I did in my entire master's program

A New Chapter

Today, Osmia uses her skills to pursue work-from-home opportunities, improving her living conditions while balancing motherhood. Her son, Azlaan,is now 18 months old and a budding football fan. Osmia extends her impact by educating young girls in her village, imparting valuable skills in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, thereby enriching her community.

Osmia's Message of Hope and Empowerment

Her story stands as a powerful testament to the idea that, given the right opportunities, women in even the most remote regions of Pakistan can surmount obstacles and realize their aspirations.

This November, consider supporting more programs like the KP Women's Civic Digital Internship Program to help women like Osmia on their journey towards empowerment.

Written by Amna Zafar