Shahleeza Murawat, Pakistan

Engineer at Laraib Energy, an IFC client and independent operator of hydro-electric facilities

I grew up taking things apart and playing with screwdrivers with my father and brother. Engineering was a natural interest. But Mirpur, my hometown, is a pretty conservative place. People are not very interested in education. Most of them have families (abroad) and are just interested in getting married and moving away.

I went to Mirpur University and saw a vacancy at Laraib in 2013, a year after I graduated. When I was hired I was the only woman in the whole plant. They asked me in my interview if I would be comfortable being the only woman here. I replied, “Yes”. If they provide with me comfortable environment, why not?

Most girls who graduated with me are more interested in getting teaching jobs because they are not comfortable with the long hours at the pant. But this was never a problem for me. I have been placed in the planning department. It is a lot of responsibility. I look after all of the operations data. I still go to the workshop to help out sometimes. I hope to prove myself and move into the mechanical side of operations.

I was always an average student, but I excel because I like what I do. I am blessed to have gotten this opportunity right where I live. I think now that people in Mirpur see local young people getting jobs at Laraib, some others are inspired to pursue higher education and not settle for early marriages and immigration.

Laraib also provides young people with internship opportunities right at their doorstep. Before this project, only government institutions were offering internships to engineering students, and they only took a select few. Laraib has its interns circulate through all departments. They take three or four interns every month. Now they even have a new internship program that will include a stipend.