Amount: £90 000.00
Duration: 36 months
Country: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan
Peace Direct in partnership with Aware Girls is improving women’s engagement in electoral processes, with a focus on young women Pakistani legislation protects the rights of women to participate in political and electoral processes: thirty-three per cent of seats are reserved for women in local government and seventeen per cent in provincial assemblies, national assembly and senate. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) women continue to face challenges to participate in electoral processes, including voting and running for elections. A survey conducted by Aware Girls during a previous Commonwealth Foundation funded project “Strengthening women’s participation in governance in Pakistan” revealed some of the challenges that hinder women’s participation in electoral processes, such as difficulties in accessing polling stations, lack of permission from families to take part in civic, political and electoral processes and having to vote according to male relatives’ political decisions.
Peace Direct and Aware Girls are strengthening the capacity of a network of women to engage with policy makers, state institutions and political parties to advocate for increased protection of women’s political rights. This is being achieved by organising and building the capacity of a Women’s Advocacy Network of 20 young women and supporting existing Citizens’ Committees to advocate for women’s political rights in order to seek ways to contribute to a better, more conducive environment for women’s political participation in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The project is also raising awareness and mobilising young women and wider communities to increase public support for women’s political participation; this will include radio programmes and peer-to-peer education activities by young women to promote women’s participation in the general elections of 2018. By promoting dialogue and engagement between the network and Citizens’ Committees and decision makers, like the Electoral Commission of Pakistan. The project will seek solutions to accessibility issues for women at polling stations, and advocate for the collection of gender segregated data on elections. They will also approach representatives of political parties, including senior party leadership to advocate for changes to parties’ manifestos and practices to reflect support for women’s political rights.
By the end of the project, greater awareness of women’s political rights would have been generated among young women and communities. The network of women is expected to have secured relevant skills and experience to continue to promote women’s political rights after the project ends. It is hoped that advocacy initiatives by the network and the Citizens’ Committees will contribute to a more conducive environment for women’s participation in electoral processes in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, thus resulting in greater participation of women in the general elections of 2018.
Aware Girls is young women led organisation from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa working for women empowerment, gender equality and peace in Pakistan. Its mission is to advocate for equal rights of women and to strengthen women’s capacity to enable them to act as agents of social change and women empowerment in their communities. The organisation has received international recognition for its work to promote young women’s rights, including awards by the Stars Foundation and by the Commonwealth.