The Lahore University of Management Sciences (Lums) recently came under fire for organising a major conference on November 13 but failing to invite a single female scholar to speak at the event.
Students, alumni and faculty of the university criticised the university’s management for the “total erasure of all female voice” at the conference titled Pakistan’s Contribution to the Muslim Intellectual Tradition. Lums alumni Fatima Tassadiq and Ghazal Asif Farrukhi even started an online petition to protest against the exclusion of women.
In light of all the criticism, the university’s management issued a statement, saying, “We welcome the recent feedback we have received suggesting the need to be more proactive in ensuring not simply more, but more meaningful, female representation within academic settings.”
“Such change requires a sustained and institution-wide commitment to understanding histories of marginalization and the manner in which such exclusions are often indirectly and even unintentionally reinforced,” the statement read.
“As we draw lessons from this experience for the future, we are committed to engaging our students, faculty, and staff in the ongoing and sometimes difficult conversations necessary to achieve our vision of an even more inclusive, and thereby more vibrant, LUMS. We aim to do this in particular through our recently established Saida Waheed Gender Initiative,” it added.
In their petition, Tassadiq and Farrukhi had written, “We are at a complete loss to understand how a two-day conference boasting six panels, each with multiple speakers, along with chairs, and keynote speakers, was organised without the inclusion of a single woman.”
They had further added, “We are deeply troubled by the total erasure of all female voice at a major conference in one of the leading institutes of the country, especially considering the relatively high number of female academics and students at Lums.”
So far, the petition has garnered over 300 supporters. The petitioners plan to send it to the “VC, Dean of the school and the HoD” after getting the required signatures.