Congratulations to 2014 Nobel Peace Prize winners Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi, two individuals whose causes closely reflect the 2015 Commonwealth Theme: A Young Commonwealth.
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.
Significant legislation has been passed in Pakistan that protects the rights of women to participate in political and electoral processes: 33 per cent of seats are reserved for women in local government and 17 per cent in provincial assemblies, national assemblies and the senate. Despite this progress, there are still 11.7 million more men on the electoral role than women. In 2017, the federal cabinet reformed electoral laws making it mandatory for political parties to allot five percent of their tickets to women candidates to boost women’s representation in political decision-making and law-making.
To support these reforms, Health and Rural Development (HARD) is seeking to improve the participation of women in politics and local governance in the Balochistan province by creating informal district assemblies to discuss the sociocultural, religious and structural impediments to women’s participation in politics in tandem with building the capacity of young women and their groups to engage in participatory governance and civic leadership. The young women are being encouraged to come forward and engage with the wider civic landscape including other civil society organisations and government. To support participation from the general public, a political resource centre for women to access information on civic and political rights, is being established. The resource centre provides guidance on registering for voting and obtaining the national identity card.
At the end of the project, it is expected that there will be increased participation of women in democratic processes at the local level; more women will be able to vote and contest elections; and there will be improved governance through the participation of more women.
Health and Rural Development
HARD Balochistan is a 80% young women led organisation and registered in 1961 and 1860 Act as a non-governmental organisation in Pakistan, which is working on a broad range of issues from health, education, human rights, democratic governance to girls and women rights and advocacy. HARD has experience of working within the province of Balochistan for the empowerment of women and marginalised communities .
Pakistan is a pluralistic society with myriad of religious and ethno-linguistic identities. While freedom of religion is constitutionally protected, discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities is an ongoing challenge. Government initiatives have attempted to address this, however more focused attention on remote communities and young people is needed.
Minority Rights Group International (MRGI), Human Friends Organisation (HFO) and Strengthening Rights and Equality by Empowering Teams (STREET) will together work with young people in schools to promote cultural respect and understanding. This project is promoting inclusive practises in communities and schools in Quetta, through the use of storytelling and theatre. Actor-activists are using story-telling and theatre to lead discussions on inclusive practices in schools through performance, guiding young people as they develop their own creative outputs on diversity and tolerance. The project is also supporting teachers to challenge discrimination in schools. In order to reach the wider community, performances will take place at festivals, focusing on the need for inclusive societies and the adverse impacts of discrimination
The project is also facilitating communication with local and national governments on the regional need for policy and practises that are more inclusive of minorities.
By the end of the project, it is hoped a generation of young people will have a better understanding of the importance of inclusion and be champions of these practices in the wider community.
Endorsed project title: Promoting education for all in Quetta, Pakistan
Photo: Flickr CC DFID Girls in school in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan
Minority Rights Group International (MRGI), UK
Minority Rights Group International campaigns worldwide with around 130 partners in over 60 countries to ensure that disadvantaged minorities and indigenous peoples, often the poorest of the poor, can make their voices heard. Through training and education, legal cases, publications and the media and cultural programmes they support minority and indigenous people as they strive to maintain their rights – to the land they live on, the languages they speak, to equal opportunities in education and employment, and to full participation in public life.www.minorityrights.org
Strengthening Rights and Equality by Empowering Teams (STREET), Pakistan
Strengthening Rights and Equality by Empowering Teams is a group of professional psychologists, anthropologists, researchers, community mobilizers, social workers, teachers, doctors, volunteers and supporters trained rights based approaches, gender, street children issues, reproductive health/HIV/AIDS, project management and sustainable human development trained by different national and international agencies with expertise in Interactive Theatre Training & Performances.www.streetpk.org
Human Friends Organisation (HFO), Pakistan
Human Friends Organisation have partnered with MRGI to protect freedom of religion and challenge religious discrimination in Pakistan, implementing training activities for activists and community members, developing national level networks/dialogue spaces to build cross-religious support for religious freedom, conducting media and awareness-raising work, and local and national advocacy.www.hfopk.org
The use of unregulated, under-aged and under-paid child domestic labourers (CDLs) remains problematic in many countries around the world, with around 11.5 million children worldwide still thought to work in illegal situations.
In India, Pakistan and Bangladesh – where millions of these child labourers live – there is an increasing willingness to change their plight, and this project will capture that willingness and use it to support positive movement away from this modern slavery.
Global March is working with partner organisations in each of the three countries and will look to the progress already being made in India’s justice system on the subject and seek to further embed it in the fabric of people’s awareness. Based on the experiences of India’s Bachpan Bachao Andolan, Pakistan’s Grassroots Organisation for Human Development and Bangladesh’s Shishu Adhikar Forum will spearhead action in each of the countries, partnering with civil society organisations (CSOs) to amend laws, raise awareness, advocate for policy change and build the capacity for CSOs, government and law enforcement to work together in the fight against child domestic labour.
There will be training and workshops for CSOs, compilation of legislative literature, expansive regional and national consultations, and extensive analysis of existing structures – all with the aim of enhancing awareness and encouraging the will of many levels of society throughout India, Pakistan and Bangladesh to let their children live their childhoods in peace.
Global March Against Child Labour
The Global March Against Child Labour is a worldwide network of trade unions, teachers’ and civil society organisations that work together towards the shared development goals of eliminating and preventing all forms of child labour and ensuring access by all children to free, meaningful and good quality public education. It mobilises and supports its constituents to contribute to local, national, regional and global efforts and support for a range of international instruments relating to the protection and promotion of children’s rights, engaging with the United Nations, international and inter-governmental agencies.
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Bachpan Bachao Andolan
Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) symbolizes India’s largest grassroots movement for the protection of children, ensuring their quality education. As on October 2014, BBA has rescued more than 83 500 victims of trafficking, slavery and child labour and has helped them re-establish trust in society and find promising futures for themselves.
Since its establishment by the Indian children’s rights activist Kailash Satyarthi in 1980, BBA has led the world’s largest civil society campaign in the form of the Global March Against Child Labour and has been at the forefront of laying down laws against child labour and trafficking in India.
Pro-women legislation has been promoted and adopted by the Pakistan government in recent years, including the Prevention of Anti-Women Practices (Criminal Law Amendment) Act 2011, but significant work is still needed on its enforcement.
The Community Appraisal and Motivation Programme (CAMP) is working with female-led CSOs in Pakistan to form a strategy for women’s rights advocacy entitled, The Sisters’ Voice. In order to address issues such as honour crimes and domestic violence, CAMP is working with female-led CSOs within the provinces of Punjab and Balochistan to improve their abilities to work with policy makers and produce a clear and effective strategy for women’s rights advocacy.
Eighty women from forty CSOs will receive training in a range of crucial skills and knowledge, including awareness of existing laws and policies and advocacy and networking skills. The women, many of whom work in underprivileged communities, will receive training and mentoring that will allow them to not only make decision makers – particularly female parliamentarians – aware of their needs, but also to work with them to help advance their basic rights.
By building this network of confident, informed and cohesive CSOs, CAMP hopes to start building a generation of women who are able to secure equality and fairness for Pakistan’s future female population.
Community Appraisal and Motivation Programme (CAMP)
Community Appraisal and Motivation Programme (CAMP) is a Pakistani non-profit and non-governmental organisation established and registered in May 2002. It works with some of the most underprivileged communities in Pakistan, responding to emergencies, improving access to quality health and education, creating livelihood opportunities, and working closely with communities and government departments to promote human rights, peace and security.
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