Progressing towards peace and Development
The Virtual Platform for Peace and Development (VPPD) is a UNDP initiative to institutionalize informed decision making on peace and development in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. By hosting open source information on factors pertaining to peace and development in the province, the platform allows the user to explore complex inter-relationships between different variables, presented visually in the form of graphs and tables. The Platform is based at the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) at the University of Peshawar and aims to transform the department into a dynamic hub of academics and researchers who can play pivotal roles in informing government policies on peacebuilding in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. An important component of the VPPD initiative dealt with building the capacities of students in terms of data screening, collation, and analysis from secondary sources. The purpose was to create a cohort of trained students who can start successful careers in the development sector as government employees or civil society representatives.
Ms. Maimoona Akhtar, a student of Journalism and Mass Communications from the University of Peshawar was apprehensive about choosing print or electronic media as a career because her family considered it an ‘inappropriate’ field for young women. This severely limited her professional choices, especially in fields that were relevant to her degree in Mass Communications. After graduation, Maimoona was selected as an intern with UNDP’s VPPD initiative at IPCS under the Platform’s capacity development component for graduate students. Maimoona was required to identify cases of violence and conflict in selected districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, enter them in a relevant software for data analysis, and share the final results with the VPPD team for hosting on the software.
The VPPD tasks complimented Maimoona’s learning in journalism and mass communication as she was required to go through dozens of local newspapers on a daily basis. There was an added advantage of learning data entry and analysis, a required skill in most development sector jobs. After completing her internship, Maimoona successfully applied for the post of a Programme Assistant in Aware Girls, a local organization working for women’s empowerment in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Maimoona’s experience with VPPD have proven invaluable for her in her present employment. Ms. Kiran Fida, her supervisor in Aware Girls stated that ‘Maimoona is a well trained professional with the required skills and knowledge to excel in her career. I am very happy that she is a part of my team and I wish her all the best for her assignments with Aware Girls.’
Maimoona is pleased to have started her career. She is thankful to UNDP for giving her an opportunity to adopt a career of her choice. She hopes to work for the welfare and development of girls in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
She said, “The credit for my success goes to UNDP and the University of Peshawar. I am now earning PKR 30,000 and supporting my family. I hope that the VPPD internship programme continues to support fresh graduates like me in their careers.”